I used Instagram for the first time a few days ago and I have to say it’s definitely one of the coolest apps I have on my iPhone. For those who haven’t used Instagram before it basically allows users to take a photo, apply a digital filter to it and then send the photo to friends or put it on Facebook. The different filter options make the photo you just took with your phone look a hell of a lot better – they lighten the photo up and give it a more layered texture. Probably the most popular function of Instagram is making photos you took five seconds ago look “vintage.” (By the way I’m starting to hate the word vintage because it has become so overused it has almost lost its meaning).
Anyway, Instagram photos end up looking like a much cooler and better quality version of a Polaroid – so you get an old school look on a new photo which is very popular these days. In fact this new technology is so popular that, in its largest acquisition deal to date, Facebook made an offer to purchase Instagram (with its 13 employees) for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock in April 2012 with plans to keep it independently managed. At this point the closing on the purchase has been delayed indefinitely pending Federal Trade Commission review so it will be interesting to see what happens with that.
As cool as Instagram is, the big question is what this technology is doing to photography as a skill and art form. My father is a photographer, I have several friends who are photographers and I take photos for the newspaper I work for so what happens when any jerkoff with an iPhone can make their photos look amazing with two clicks of an app? Will the profession of photography become obsolete? Is Instagram the iTunes of photography in that, like iTunes diminished the importance of albums, will Instagram diminish the importance of actually knowing how to take a photo properly? Similar to iTunes, Instagram is so convenient and easy to use that I’m wondering if people will stop buying Canon Rebels (like they stopped buying albums) and will rely solely on their iPhones and Instagram apps for all their photo needs.
Don’t get me wrong – I buy songs on iTunes all the time because it’s easy and convenient. But I still go to record stores (the few that still exist) and buy albums as well. And although I really like how Instagram allows me to quickly cleanup and share photos via text or Facebook I will always use real cameras for taking photos of important subjects (i.e. my cute little Sedona) and for all things newspaper.
I’m very interested to hear what people think of Instagram’s impact – especially my Dad and my photographer friends out there. Let me know what you think!
Despite the fact that Instagram is a killer app that makes your photos look phenomenal, I have faith that the talented photographers out there won’t go hungry. Most Instagram users won’t be able to capture the nuances of a live event or a basketball game or a birthday party, much like the professionals and enthusiasts out there have been able to do all along. Having a high-quality camera won’t go out of style. Can you imagine looking at pictures of your children growing up via Instagram photos? Hell no. That “vintage” (and I 100% agree with you about the usage of that word) look just won’t fly. I have faith that Bill and Joe and all the other photographers out there will still be able to create art that sells and that’s differentiated from amateurs on iPhones 🙂
Frank Molina says
As an accountant I’ve learned that the answer to any question is usually “it depends.” I think this applies here too. Will phones and camera apps be the end of photography as we know it? Yes. I for one have a phone that takes better pictures than any camera, digital or analog, that I have ever owned. It also fits in my pocket and is with me at all times! No longer do we have to pay and wait to see our photos. No longer do we run out of film. I think that for the casual user, this is both cool technology and the end of consumer photography as we know it. Will it be the end of professional photography? Hardly. We may have the hardware and software to make taking pictures easy, affordable, and convenient, but that does not mean that we have the gifted and trained eye of a professional photographer for those special occasions (weddings) that require some special amount of attention and care. I think that at the end of the day, people will always need to entrust their special occasions or professional needs to professional photographers, but our everyday picture taking has definitely changed…and I think it’s for the better. (My two very long cents.)
I absolutely agree. There is no way that anyone is going to allow a person with an iPhone take photos at big events and there is definitely a difference between someone with a camera and person with a photographic eye. That being said I’ve seen less and less people carrying cameras on trips because their iPhone satisfies their needs which means there will be fewer people learning the craft of photography.
We’ll see how it goes – it will be interesting to see what happens over the years when this kind of technology gets more and more impressive.