matthew murray

blogging about mobile photography, mobile apps and social media


Features Why I love - and hate - Instagram

Published on June 22nd, 2012 | by Matthew Murray

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Why I love – and hate – Instagram

It’s been 16 months since I first posted a photo to Instagram. In that time, my enthusiasm for posting photos on the new king of photo-sharing social networks has been more up and down than a ride on a Ferris Wheel.

Although I still have overwhelmingly positive feelings for the app, I have reflected on the reasons why I both love – and hate – Instagram.

Reasons why I love Instagram

1) Mobile photo sharing made easy

Ferris Wheel, Barry Island, Wales

Ferris Wheel, Barry Island, Wales

Instagram achieved something that no one else had managed so far. Not Facebook and certainly not Flickr. It

understood the importance of mobile apps and made smartphone photographs easy to share.In my previous post Instagram – the rise of a mobile giant I explain the key to Instagram’s success. It is has a simple, well thought out design and has been tweaked with updates and new features many times since its debut

2) Fun and addictive

Why is Instagram so addictive? For me, it’s great to dig your phone out of your pocket and look at how many comments and likes have rolled in since last posting. A similarity Instagram shares with Flickr is it’s friendly, supportive community. This makes a refreshing change from comments on YouTube and from reading the flame wars that erupt in the comments sections of newspaper articles.

3) Seeing the work of some amazing mobile photographers

Instagram has really broadended my horizons about how I think about mobile photography. Seeing the work of amazing mobile photographers from all around the World, how they shoot and what apps they used has been a huge learning experience.

In my previous post Mobile photography – why your smartphone is the best camera I talk about how it took a while for me to take iPhoneography seriously after 15 years of using SLRs. It was the discovery of the Instagram app in February 2011 that really got me interested in iPhoneography and opened up a world of possibilities. Without that discovery, this blog wouldn’t exist.

4) Seeing the everyday world of IGers

Carousel horses, Barry Island, Wales

Carousel horses, Barry Island, Wales

Seeing the everyday world of IGers is fascinating. Here are some of the things that made me smile over the last couple of days.

  • recordsrecycled posted photos of the same space Lego that I got for Christmas in 1984.
  • danslee was at some kind of  localgov talk fest. Again.
  • kruddmp (former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd) is taking part in a CEO sleepout in Brisbane tonight supporting charity St Vincent de Paul.
  • shelbyville posted some great photos of her trip to Oregon.
  • rosalives was rockin a pretty cool pair of blue and white pants (that’s trousers to the Brits!) in one of her trademark selfies.

Reasons why I hate Instagram

Okay, hate is a pretty strong word. Maybe I should say dislike, but you get the idea.

1) A thousand likes does not a good photo make

In high school I studied a subject called Logic. We learnt the fallacies of reasoning, one of which was called ad populum. It goes something like this… just because a large amount of people like something, it doesn’t mean it’s any good.

In his excellent blog article Is Instagram Defining, and Therefore Ruining, Mobile Photography? New York based mobile photographer Anton Kawasaki tells how he uploaded a random photo of his hardwood floor to Instagram as an April Fool’s joke. While some people got the joke, many didn’t, and the photo received more than 600 likes from his followers.Most of my Instagram photos barely make it to 15 likes. Sure I could start following another 100 people and the number of likes I receive would increase too, but I ask myself – what’s the point? Would it make my photos any better? No.

2) Filters

Pinwheel, Barry Island, Wales

Pinwheel, Barry Island, Wales

For about a month in early 2011 I thought the Instagram filters were cool. I don’t think I’ve used one since. For many mobile photographers, Instagram is purely the sharing mechanism for mobile photography, not the creative platform.

A recent BBC News Magazine article Has Instagram made everyone’s photos look the same? explores the use of retro filters by apps like Instagram and the roots of this fad in the Lomography of the 1990s.

Does Instagram make everyone’s photos look the same? I don’t think so – the sheer amount of people using the app now mean that – in my opinion – few photos look the same . There is a lot more to mobile photography now than adding a retro filter to a photo. Yet it still amazes me (and makes me cringe) every time I hear of a new ‘retro photo app’ launching on iTunes or Google Play. Enough is enough.

3) Lack of lists

It’s too easy to miss new photos on Instagram.

I find this one of the most frustrating aspects of the app. I currently follow 127 users from all over the World. The people I follow post photos 24 hours a day. If they happen to post habitually at 2am Brisbane time, I never see their photos as the 20 most recent photos in my feed when I wake up are from people posting after this time.Instagram needs to take a leaf out of Twitter’s interface and introduce user-created lists. Without lists, it’s harder to keep track of photos posted by your favourite IGers.

4) It chews up your data allowance

With my mobile phone contract I have a data allowance of 1.5gb every month.A few months into using IG, I received a huge shock. My phone bill arrived and I was charged $120 for excess data usage. The culprit? Yes, that month I’d been doing a whole lot more instagramming that month whilst out and about. Now I only tend to browse IG on my home wifi connection.

Instagram – love it or hate it?

Let me know what you think!

I’m @mattbrisvegas on Instagram


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8 Responses to Why I love – and hate – Instagram

  1. Pingback: Why I love – and hate – Instagram | weeklyblogclub

  2. Pingback: The Dalai Lama, puffins, police and pickles | weeklyblogclub

  3. Ross says:

    Interesting post Matt thanks. I might try instagram as I currently use hipstamatic. Are the 2 pretty similar in terms of the pictures?

    • Matthew Murray says:

      Hey Ross, thanks for your comment. Instagram is mainly used as a photo-sharing social network. You can create images with IG of course, but many people use Hipstamatic, Camera+ or their native camera app to shoot with, then they import the image into Instagram, add a filter (if you like that kinda thing ;) ) and then share it with their followers. In terms of image creation, Hipstamatic is far superior to IG.

      Cheers

      Matt

  4. Kevin says:

    Great blog, thanks for posting

  5. Louise says:

    Another great post Matt :-)

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