I had to laugh a couple days ago when I saw a blog post entitled “Why I really, really hate Instagram.” Instagram is a very simple iPhone photo-sharing app. Before you upload your photo, you can apply an image filter to give it a retro or artistic look. The author hates Instagram because it encourages the use of filters to “destroy” the image quality of your photos (by removing digital information from them).
While I understand the author’s point from a technical perspective – I believe his angst (“Stop deliberately destroying your own memories.”) is completely misplaced.
I love Instagram because it motivates me to take more pictures. I think the artistic degradation makes it safer to experiment and take photos of mundane things, while cultivating an artistic eye. I’m not trying and be a professional photographer. These photos are artistic expression (not to mention memories) that I wouldn’t have otherwise taken and saved. For me, more pictures (even crappy ones) are better than fewer pictures.
Knowing that some small audience is looking at the photos I take is also a huge motivator. To an extent, the “internet famous” dynamic is at play (I get an emotional boost when people like my pics), but also a small app like this creates an important social contract among its users. You know what you post will be public. You know it is OK to experiment creatively. And importantly, your audience knows what to expect. You don’t have to ask yourself all the questions you ask yourself before you share a photo on Facebook. I imagine this is why some people have loved flickr for years.
So, ranting against filtering photos is like a musician who calls Garage Band an unworthy tool for making music. One person’s art killer is another person’s art enabler. Creating and sharing are two huge forces for good, so shut up.