A Photographer Praises Instagram

With a user population nearing 100 million — including our President — Instagram is growing at speeds that have already surpassed that of LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr and even Facebook. (And, of course, Facebook took note of that and purchased the app, so let’s hope it doesn’t change too much).

Share Photos to Communicate

Amazingly, 58 photos are uploaded every second using Instagram.

These are some of the photos I’ve taken in 2012 using Instagram.

It appeals to those who love photos, travel, cooking, eating, parenting, taking self-portraits, concerts, nature, what’s going on in the world…you see where this is going.

Pretty much anyone can reap the benefits of becoming an Instagram user. I pushed it onto two of my clients last week during a session for their child, and by the end, the child’s father was posting behind-the-scenes images.

Of course, it’s really not important to publish photos of new fingernail polish for the world to see. From a philosophical standpoint, however, Instagram is making its mark in history because the stream of real-time photo sharing is changing the way we communicate, almost having a conversation without saying anything.

For photographers, the essence of growing your vision is to allow your photos to speak. Instagram users are doing that every day.


I recently lost some photography gear stolen when my car window was bashed in.

It was a considerable loss and, without going into detail, it made me realize something significant about photography, its current trends, how much value we place on our gear, and what is considered to be “great work” by the vast majority.

My advice: simplify. (Of course, try to avoid having your gear stolen in the first place.)

Among the stolen gear: my 15mm f/2.8, 105mm f/2.8 macro, 24mm f/1.8, and 85mm f/1.4 Nikkor. Honestly, I rarely used the 85mm; I have 2 manual (vintage) 135mm f/2.0 lenses that I found on eBay for $50, and I prefer their image quality over that of the 85mm. I feel that spending $1,600 on the “pro-grade” lens was a waste (sorry, Nikon). The other three lenses I rotated 90 perent of the time, and the 15mm was my wedding go-to.

However, switching three lenses around was a pain in the you-know-what. Amazingly, I found a lens that combines those three into one — and only cost $250 — the glorious Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 macro. So now I have a whopping two lenses in my bag, the 18-50mm and my beloved 35mm f/1.4, which was safely at home on my desk when the thievery occurred. Oh, and my camera phone.

Simplifying my gear got me thinking about Instagram users, who photograph what they love with what they have.

Use What You Have

With camera phones as our new tool for making art, anything is possible.

And sharing the photos is a bonus, a new way to communicate without having to sit at your desk, download, touch up, resize, login to your online account, upload and then share to a social network.

I’m pretty sure the day will come when DSLR cameras can connect to the Internet and upload directly from a session. But until then…I thank Instagram for bringing us all back down to earth, serving as a reminder that perfecting, smoothing and cloning only take away from the realness of a scene or an individual. While those things serve a different purpose, to be one with a moment and get to share that feeling with the world is a gift.

Yes, I just got sentimental over a phone app.

Find me on Instagram: escapetolight

5 Responses to “A Photographer Praises Instagram”

  1. There's a place for it which is what a lot of the stick in the mud 'togs fail to acknowledge. Some are confused about how to perceive value here.

    I compare to literature and reading - you have Archie comic books, you have supermarket rack tabloids, you have in depth thought provoking documentary and journalism, you have Shakespeare. All are viable in today's world. All are marketable in varying degrees. And even a Tolstoy fan will find an Archie comic amusing at times.

    I like that road pic at the top. Reminds me of stuff I used to shoot with film in the 1970s - light leaks and all.

  2. Agree totally. The essence of a good photo (composition, interesting subject) is the same whatever you use. And a lot of the negative reaction to Instagram etc is a mixture of fear and kit snobbery. And ignorance. Most people have no idea what's possible on a smart phone camera. Anyway, nice to e-meet you. Will look you up on Instagram.

  3. In an ever changing world of technological advances, Instagram is another tool that can help people communicate and/ or accomplish their work. Tools ae wonderful, but only as good as those who use them. Instagram is yet another way to make life easier, but it will not necessairly replace other tools. Depends on the situation, the photographer and what the goal is.

  4. Art is about the thoughts and emotions that are provoked when one looks upon it. When we only look at the medium and technical aspects used to create, it is no longer about artistry but engineering. Everyone is an artist.

  5. It seems to me you basically write that gear does not come first. A photographer wants to show something, depending on how and why, he/she will not need more than a smartphone and instagram, fair enough. Sometimes, that's not true. I think the common and present mistake is the geeky attitude of journalists and many bloggers, who like manufacturers, have the same goal: make you buy the new stuff, spend your dollars but maybe not improve your photography. That's why I agree when it comes to really now what matters to you. Conversely, it is good to evolve and to change. If you are fed up with you photographies, sell your gear and enjoy your Apple/Samsung toy, they really rock indeed, and if you want to experiment new photography thanks to the technical innovations of the new bodies, be also my guest.

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