There’s been a lot of talk in the last week about Facebook buying Instagram for a whopping $1bn, not least because at the time of the take over, Instagram had a mere 13 employees and hadn’t yet turned a profit, let alone generated any revenue - after all, $1bn is an awful lot of money.
But aside from the financial wisdom of Mark Zuckerberg’s app purchases, there was a lot of comment about the worth of Instagram itself. It seems that many pro photographers and commentators are in a huff with Instagram and other apps that allow users to apply a multitude of filter effects to their camera phone shots, because suddenly everyone’s an ‘expert’ at cross-processing and soon all photographs will look the same and that’s, well, boring.
OK, they may have a bit of a point - and it certainly does take a very long time and a lot of expertise and skill to create 'real’ photographs with filters and darkroom chemicals in the way Instagram and other apps can fake in an instant. But surely, as with vinyl and albums bought and listened to as bands intended versus iTunes and instant-fix track downloads, there is a case for both to exist side-by-side? Yes, I know that iTunes has completely turned the musician’s revenue-generating model on its head, but surely apps like Instagram won’t lead to pro photographers being replaced by camera phone apps?
And so what if everyone’s Facebook pictures look a little similar? It’s not the effect alone that makes a good photograph, it’s the subject matter, the way the photographer has thought about the composition and the overall feeling the image conveys to the viewer. A digital filter and a natty frame can’t replace all that. But equally, you don’t need the latest pro equipment to create an image that touches people.
So I say, go out and play with Instagram, don’t be ashamed to post your images on whatever social network you want - if a photograph makes you and others smile and tells you a bit about the subject, then it’s a good photograph. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t spend hours in a darkroom creating it. There is place in this world for all sorts of photography, if you create something that you think others will genuinely appreciate, then share it and be proud. And if you decide you’d like to find out more about how to do it for real, get yourself enrolled on a photography course and get elbow-deep in chemicals and try it. You might be a natural!
The shot above was taken using Instagram and I’ve posted it here because it makes me smile and to me, it speaks of lazy Sunday afternoons, the great outdoors and the wonderment of childhood discoveries.