I know it’s the app to make fun at the moment (Collegehumor hits the nail on the head with this parody), what with the overdose of self-portraits, food pics, overly-processed snapshots of nothing. But you know what, I love Instagram. It’s instant, it’s limiting, it’s fun and quirky.
Having tried film photography, I’ve learn how to work within its limitations and through its limitations, I gained new perspective and have grown as a photographer. With Instagram, it’s extremely limiting. There’s no control over the exposure, focus points or even the aspect ratio, especially the aspect ratio. Some users resort to 3rd party apps to include pictures in their original aspect ratio, which completely defeats the fun in the square format. The square format is one limitation a lot of users find it difficult to accept. It’s hardly surprising as we are so used to seeing things in the wide format, whether it’s the 4:3 ratio of our TV programs or the modern 16:9 ratio. Our minds are trained to compose in that format, composing in squares is like being a fish thrown out of the pond. But it pays off if you keep trying. Take a look at as many shots as you can and try to emulate them before developing your own style. Once you master it, I swear it will be a joy and so addictive that you will be relunctant to shoot in any other way.
Another parallel Instagram has with film photography is it requires you to think on your feet. With film, you need to have a clear idea of your final image because once you compose, set the settings and fire the shutter, there’s no going back. With Instagram, it’s slightly different – you compose, shoot, select the filter and effects you want and finally share it online. All of it done on the spot. (Of course, you could shoot it like a regular photo and post it later from your gallery, but that doesn’t sound very fun, does it?) Because it’s so instantanious, everything is (mostly) unplanned and it’s always interesting to guess the tought process behind someone else’s shot.
Of course, there’s no denying that there are bad photos on the social network. The worst trend recently is the one app that overlays location/weather text over your photos, as if the geo-tagging feature isn’t clear enough. All these photos cheapen the experience a little but I don’t mind them. There are some horrible blogs out there, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from following the good ones, right? Don’t be afraid to hop onto the bandwagon. For once, it’s probably worth it.
Have you tried Instagram yet? If you haven’t, I urge you to give it a try despite any preconceptions you may have. Once you are onboard, follow me on @eongxien for more updates!