Friday, November 12, 2010

Why I love Instagram and why it makes a separate iPhoneography movement even more important

So I've gotten slightly addicted to Instagram since downloading a few weeks ago.  It's the first app I've seen that makes it easy and practical to find great photos and see what others think of yours.  That's why I love it.

Initially I thought, wow, this changes everything about iPhoneography and how iPhone photos are shared.  After using it for a few weeks, I've come to a very different conclusion.

My conclusion is this:  Instagram changes a lot, but it makes the existence of a separate iPhoneography movement even more important rather than less.

Why?  Primarily because the photos on Instagram are from all sorts of cameras.  DSLRs, point and shoots, iPhones, iPods, etc.  Posted here are two of my more popular Instagram pics that were taken with a DSLR.  There is no way to know, as it exists today, what is from an iPhone and what is not.  Which raises an important question - do people care about this?  It's clear from the comments that people make that at least some do.  And I'd guess it's more than a few although definitely not all.  It's not uncommon to see things like:

"Why are people posting non-iPhone photos?!?!"

It screams frustration from those seeking true iPhoneography.  Personally, I think there are two groups of people using Instagram.  One group prefers to see iPhone only photos (the true iPhoneographers).  The other group doesn't care and just wants to see cool pics.  I like to think that I fall into both groups and decidedly have a need for both a Instagram (show me any cool pics) and my iPhoneography (show me what you can do with an iPhone) fix through top sites like LifeInLoFi and iPhoneography.

How does Instagram feel about it?  Based on the fact that they could easily enforce an "iPhone photo only" policy with a just a few lines of code that check the EXIF, I'm guessing they aren't trying to be an iPhoneography targeted site.  In fact I'd be shocked if they weren't hard at work on Android and other OS versions of the app.

 I really have no idea what percentage of Instagram users would prefer iPhone only pics, but I would love to know.

How do you feel? Post a comment and share your opinion...



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  1. This is my 2nd attempt to post.

    I've only downloaded the App recently, but I haven't had the chance to explore it more.

    I've been taking photos almost exclusively with my iPhone (3G & 3GS) for the last couple of years and my iPod 4G more recently, I think that Instagram should be photos only taken with mobile devices and not DLSR (although I have one of those too).

    Personally, I'm not sure if I'm ready to post to Instagram, but I do have a photoblog where it tends to be my friends and family that go there.

    I think that I'm becoming a true iPhotography enthusiast. I also edit/process my video and photos taken on my iPhone/iPod with apps on the device.

  2. iPhone, iPod and iPad is a terrible device to comment on blog post ;-)

  3. I think it should be iPhone only. If they do add android & other mobile phone device apps then let be a mobile phone photography but at the moment it's iPhone & may never be android. There are so many other sites for other photography that it's nice to have an iPhone only site.

    I vote iPhone only!

  4. Hi!
    I felt very surprised when I began to use Instagram and saw most people were sharing photos coming from every kind of devices.
    I'm a iPhoneography believer, but I love photography and I continue taking photos with my dslr and lomo, or whatever. Though, I'm personnaly even more radical with Instagram, and I take it like a harder challenge: I use it the way it was made, that is to say, I take the photos with the iPhone and use only one filter, then share it. For me, it's another form of iphoneography, simpler but harder (that's my personal point of view).
    I understand the success because of the simplicity and speed of sharing and displaying the photos. But, I mean, taking a 10 Mpx photo with a 5D, editing it with photoshop, transfering on the iPhone and sharing it at 612x612 px, it sounds a bit strange to me, I mean, not adapted to the system!
    What I wanted to say is that Instagram didn't improve the resolution of the photos because the system is intended to be simple and wide opened. When you look at the photos, the speed of passing from one to another, the size of the photos defines a specific style of image for me: fast impact, direct subject, little moment of life, spontaneity… But not a hardworked photo where you won't see any details or appreciate the mood.
    I don't condamn the way some people use it, on the contrary, I like very much the idea of using it as a new way of taking pictures: very fast, not pretentious and very living! I like this idea and I think that living more and more in an image society, we have constantly to re-invent the way we take them.
    To finish, I think that it also reveals that a real good sharing system of images is still missing. For me, Flickr is the less bad, for instance, for iPhoneography, as you mentioned it, there are dozens of curated galleries and it's a pain to publish your photos everywhere if you want to share them widely. Then, you link them with twitter, facebook, to your flickr or tumblr, posterous account… Instagram did a great compromize between flickr and twitter, and personnaly, I miss a good and simple system to share hi-res photos, where are all your friends…
    Sorry for the emphase, but like I feel Instagram is making a little revolution in the mobile - or not - photography and that was my thoughts.