I joined Instagram years ago because it really appealed to my style of just capturing something that inspired me, or a to capture a memory in an instant with my mobile phone. Fast forward thousand of photos later and this year I began to fall out of love with Instagram and have been exploring the use of it and how I feel about my photographic style.
I use Instagram in three ways really.
One is spontaneous captures with my phone of something I see and like in day to day life.
The second is when I follow a theme posted by others.
The third is to post images for my two businesses that are often not always taken with my phone.
My business profiles are a mixture of phone and pro camera images. I struggled with using my pro camera images on Instagram initially, because that’s not what Instagram was originally designed for. After all, I have a website and a Facebook page for my portfolio images. Yet with the ever changing world of social media and marketing, it was where things were heading and sometimes if you don’t keep up, you miss out. I even find myself #hastagging everything to get my images noticed for business, but yet again I wish I could generate business without this and free myself to grow organically – but who has time for that these days hey, when you are a little known photographer in the world?!
If I follow a theme, I find my style really shows through and it is usually because I have taken more time and thought about it. It is not so instant, but it does make me look for things creatively and that is inspiring. My current images on my personal profile are following a theme and to be honest it is for a competition for something for my house, so for once the images do have a flow of style and work together.
There are some great monthly themes out there currently, if this is what works for you and I will come on to Allison Sadler’s #freeupmyinsta further in to this blog piece.
My day to day style is more about documenting me and my life and I am more concerned with sharing the story as opposed to a perfectly curated image.
My life isn’t curated, despite what you see on social media and I find that social media is heading us down a road of the perfect visual life and how many of us actually have that. You could also argue that who wants to see the dull everyday images of coffee, without foam and in a chipped mug? Doesn’t a perfectly arranged latte with a notebook and croissant just look better?
Well that’s the debate I suppose …
Does a beautiful pastel pretty set of visuals motivate us to aspire to create and strive for a chic lifestyle that makes us happier? Does a bold, colourful, highly processed photograph inspire the wanderlust in us to travel the world? Or do these collections of images just give us FOMO (Fear of missing out) and like the often spoken about other side of social media, just a feeling of being unfulfilled?
Well Hooray for Allison Sadler who it turns out was feeling out of love with Instagram also and it seems so are many others. Take a read of her wonderful blog here …
And take a read of her first #freeupmyinsta
You can see from my three profiles, I too have followed the trend to have the trendy, lifestyle image. I also have very random, not technically great images – shame on you calling yourself a photographer! The one common thing I have, whilst I have a style, is that I don’t have a carefully branded Instagram account and to be honest I’m not sure I ever will. I’m not great at marketing and it is just not in my nature. I more of an open book. I get bored easily and like variety. As a photographer my business choice is to photograph lots of different areas, because one thing inspires another.
Now let me say I like the accounts I’ve posted on here and I am not saying they are not good. I really admire the people who curate beautiful accounts, because I love gorgeous images and I think it suits their brand. It’s just not something I do myself. I also hugely admire the accounts who are just living life and capturing what is important to them at that moment in time. For me personally, when I glance at an account that has perfect images that all match perfectly, I really like the look of it at as a whole, but when I follow them, I find myself skimming through the images after a few weeks of feeling like I’m seeing the same images. I find myself drawn more to the accounts that mix it up, tell me a story, draw in my interest to them as people, as opposed to a brand. That is just my personality though and my attention span of a toddler!
To free up my style of using my phone for documenting images, I have recently started using an App called mi:nu:ti:ae This takes me back to my student days of documentary photography in a way, because I am forced to simply document something in front of me at that moment in time. It inspires me to look at something and react in an instant.
The basic principal is that the app sets off an alert at any random moment of the day. When the alert goes off you have one minute to open the app and then literally seconds to take a shot with your mobile phone. This means you really don’t have time to position items for a perfect shot. The images are then stored within the app and archived for four years before they are returned to you – yes fours years! You don’t have access to them and the principal being that you will receive all your images in fours years and it will be like having your own little time capsule of your real life. This is the bit that appeals to me. A documentary of what my everyday life was like for fours years. Especially now, as I am in the process of a lifestyle change.
I have had mixed success with it during my 58+ days and I do wonder if I will get the images in fours years, or will technology have outdated them, or the company closed. The sceptic in me worried about the security of my images, but it came recommended by The Times and my images are all over the internet so why is this any different to posting on Facebook. I don’t carry my phone around with me all the time and I switch it off at night, so if you do not respond you get a ‘missed moment’ and a black square. At first this stressed me out because I struggled to open the app sometimes, even when I was there for the alert, but I am now relaxed about it and seeing it as a long term project that is about real life – sometimes I’ll be there with a great view in front of me, sometimes I’ll just get the black square, which could mean I was out living life without being attached to technology and social media. It will be interesting to see how it goes on and do forgive me if you are with me and the beeping goes off and I dash to pick up my phone. This seems a contradiction in that someone is telling me to take a photo and hence more regimented than anything, but I do find having to just take a photo quickly is helping my creative eye to spot things in an instant, which is great.
So in conclusion, I’ve decided the answer to the Instagram debate, really depends on how you view life and the good thing is that there is something on Instagram for everyone. So just be yourself and do what makes you happy.