In Defense of Instagram

In Defense of Instagram

Real photographers hate Instagram.

“Oh great, let’s give the pedestrian masses a bunch of hipsterish faux-Holga filters to make them feel like their crappy photos of their tacos are pieces of art.”

I get that. Being a photographer is tough. You can’t even photograph shows these days without giving the rights to the musician, let alone get paid well for doing so. The last thing you want is a bunch of people cluttering up the field with photos that you think are an “insult” to film photography.

But here’s why you need to get over it.

1. Some of us don’t have any photo-taking talent, and Instagram helps our photos look less shitty.

Once, my grandma took a picture of my sisters and I at the apple orchard and totally cut me out, in favor of getting extra tree in on the other side. Either she hates me, or she sucks at photography. Judging by her other photos, it’s the latter.

These are the genes I inhereted. I’m not going to be a photo genius any day, and I’ve come to terms with that. If an app comes out that can make my inability to find proper lighting in a frame look cool via vintage-esque filters, I’m thankful for that. We Instagram users have little pretense that we’re creating works of art. We just want our photos to look less bad.

2. Capturing images is important, and it reminds us to do so

I used to work at a photo studio in high school, giving my family the impression that I was a “photographer.” This means they often toss the camera at me during family events and make me take a bunch of pictures of people opening presents. I do this begrudgingly, because I hate being the awkward person with a camera.

Because of that reluctance, I often miss out on the opportunity to chronicle what I’m doing. Having the Instagram app on my phone reminds me that I should keep track. It becomes like a little public diary. Since you don’t want to clog everyone’s feed, the photo you take has to matter. The incentive to take just one good photo is a lot higher for me than the nagging need to take dozens for my parents’ future Christmas slideshow.

3. It’s social

It’s amazing how different people’s Instagram streams are. One person’s might be all boring pictures of their feet or sunburn, and another’s might be a constant flow of interesting-looking characters hanging out in weird basements. It’s a snapshot of people’s lives, and to the social media voyeur, that’s interesting.

Growing up, photos went in the basement, where they sat in shoeboxes against the wall. Instagram made it easy for them to instantly be viewed by whoever, shareable and chronicled by date. To me, that’s a difference that makes me want to take photos.

Becky Lang