I love taking pictures.
Ever since I was a kid, my entire family has been all about capturing moments in time through photography. It didn’t matter if we were making a stupid face or if there was too much flash. What mattered was that the moment was captured for us to relive at a future date.
When Instagram first came out, I was skeptical. I didn’t see the need for yet another social site that only shared photos, when I had Twitter, and its image hosting site, Twitpic. Yet, when it was finally released for Android, I immediately downloaded it, and then never used it.
I used to have a bad habit of doing that. Signing up or downloading the latest app or social platform, and then never using it because I am so comfortable with what I currently have. I finally decided to give Instagram a try close to two years ago, and my life immediately changed.
I was hooked.
At first, the site was populated by overly processed images of food, celebrities, and yourself, and to a certain degree, it’s still very much like that (if you go to the Explore page). There weren’t high-quality images like the ones you’d see on Flickr or 500px anywhere, but that wasn’t the point. Initially, it wasn’t about the pictures, it was simply about the sharing.
When I first started to use Instagram though, the platform was going through a bit of a shift. I started to follow people I didn’t know, and saw that they were posting insanely high-quality images. I instantly thought that they were using a DSLR, which is cheating and circumventing the instant-sharing aspect of the platform, but I was okay with it because the images were phenomenal. What blew me away was the fact that there were people out there using nothing more than the tiny digital cameras on the backs of their phones to take beautiful photographs.
And I suppose that’s why I like the idea of mobile photography so much. It’s instant. You take what you see, and you share it. The best part about it is that you can post whenever, from wherever. While Twitter is relegated mostly to text and links, and Facebook and Google+ are meandering, trying to find their way back home, Instagram is pure. There isn't the social obligation to follow all of your friends, but rather, you get to follow all sorts of interesting people from all over the world.
As film-maker Casey Neistat said in his 2012 YouTube film,
“The magic of Instagram is that you get to peer into the lives of really interesting people.”
However, given the chance to help change and improve the platform and ideas behind mobile photography, these are the two things I’d love to change:
We know what your face looks like. There no reason to have a wall of JUST your face. Instagram, and mobile photography in general, is all about sharing the world around you. Leave the selfies to other sites like Facebook.
Go easy with the hashtags, or at the very least, make the relevant to the image. If your posting a picture of a sunset, there’s no need to have the hashtag #ootd just to get views and likes. That dilutes what makes Instagram so good.
Instagram has become all about sharing stories through high-quality photographs. It’s given me the chance to explore the world through the eyes of people I both know and do not know, and has pushed me to take more creative and inspiring photographs. What I find most interesting, however, is how you can tell how much a person has changed just by looking at their photographs, and what they choose to share.