I am a film freak! I freely admit it. In fact, you should see the impressions on people’s faces when I mention it….they look at me as if I’ve just been released from some high security mental asylum. And of course, I love the attention.
My readers however, hopefully know different. I certainly am very serious about film and always try and present as sensible an argument whenever the subject pops up in conversation.
That doesn’t mean I abhor digital media. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both film, digital, paint, pencil, paper etc are all means to an end. They are all mediums that help us express our innermost feelings, so that all around us can also feel the same way if they want to.
Going on from that, readers have been bombarding me with requests to say something about Instagram, the photo sharing software. Ok, fine, read on…
What is Instagram firstly? Well, it allows people to post and share their photos online using their cellphones. Is it that popular? Apparently so. At the last count, it is said that there are more than 100 million users..yes, that’s right, no mistake. And 40 million photos being shared using the service every day. That amount of users very obviously means it is horrendously popular, not just popular per se!
But why do users sing it’s praises? In my opinion, it’s main attraction could well be that it allows the average Joe in the street to take just about any photo, meld it through an Instagram filter, and out pops a result that looks like it was taken by Lord Snowdon (who’s Lord Snowdon? A world famous British photographer, silly!).
There are a huge amount of filters within the app (short for application!). Here are some of the better ones:
X Pro II–makes colours more denser
Lo-Fi–deeper colours, deeper shadows, higher contrast
Earlybird–makes a shot look older, vintagey
Sutro–changes your image giving it a vignetted look
Toaster–like Earlybird, but more pronounced
Valencia–gives results like using Kodakchrome film!
Those are some of the filters that are commonly used. As I mentioned, for someone who doesn’t know the difference between an f number or ISO rating, this app is like the proverbial Manna from heaven. It allows anyone with 2 brain cells to almost become as good as the next top photographer.
But is this photography? Is taking a shot and throwing on a filter classed as photography? Even more to the point, can it be classed as photography? As a film user, I’m bound to be biassed on this question. So let’s hear what one of my colleagues, who is a published digital photographer and journalist, has to say about it.
“Instagram and Iphone have revolutionised the world of art and photography….brought it to people who would never have bothered, or would never have had the ability to take such shots. If you ask me if it can be classified as photography, I would say no. Real photography, whether it’s using film or digital media, is far more involved than just pointing your cellphone at somebody’s face, slapping on a portrait filter in the app and calling it high quality portraiture.
The photographers we are talking about live on earnings from their work. They spend days and nights trying to perfect their shots, trying different lenses, exposure times, ISO ratings etc to achieve that.
A guy with a cellphone can take a shot, make it look better with Instagram, and no matter how much he manipulates his/her image, it will never, ever take him as long as a real photographer takes with his shots. So will Instagram make photographers obsolete? No, of course not. Anybody who tells you so needs to get their head examined, period!”
That’s not me saying it! The opinion of an expert digital photographer.
As always, we should never dwell on the negative aspects of anything; I never do anyway. What are the good points of Instagram? Just as the guy above says. It has brought an awareness, an artistic bent shall we say, to the masses who would never have attempted such a thing.
That in my mind far outweighs everything. At the very least, it has brought huge numbers of the population in touch with, in realisation of, photography.