Why Instagram Is The Future of Street Photography

by Eric Kim on May 7, 2012

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(Above image: “Carlton” by Misho Baranovic)

When I was in Melbourne, I met up with street photographer and co-founder of the Mobile Photo Group (MPG), Misho Baranovic. For those of you who may not know Misho or the MPG, they essentially shoot street and documentary photography with mobile devices and share their work online through a number of platforms, including Instagram.

Being an Android user myself, I never understood the hype of Instagram. To me it seemed just like another camera app where people would take photographs of flowers, sunsets, or lattes and add tons of crazy processing (lomo or vintage film anybody?). I essentially thought it was a platform only for Justin Bieber lovers or hipsters with too much time on their hands.

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Star Rush

Instagram was recently introduced to Android, and considering I don’t own an iPhone (yeah, I know I’m waiting on the iPhone 5) I only recently got started on Instagram. When I first downloaded Instagram, I had no idea how to use it, what its appeal was, or anything.

This is where Misho comes to the rescue:

He showed me how to use Instagram, recommended a few people for me to follow, and gave me some basic ”rules” or ”guidelines” or ”best-practices” for Instagram users. These are some things that he noted:

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Sion Fullana

1. That you don’t have to use filters to share on Instagram. You could take your photographs on your iPhone with a camera replacement app like Pro Camera, or even upload your non-iPhone photographs.

2. Using the Square Ready app to ensure that your photos don’t appear in a square, but a rectangle (with white, instead of the default black bars added by Instagram).

3. You shouldn’t spam your followers by uploading too much, with most people uploading at least one photo a day.

He was telling me all of this, but I still wasn’t quite ”buying” using Instagram. After all, I have my Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, blog, emails, and other things to manage. How could I take on another social media network?

Then I saw the feedback, comments, and likes that Misho was getting. He told me that he averaged at least a few hundred ”likes” and a dozen comments per post. Another MPG member Oliver Lang (who I featured last week) would get several hundred, with this image, getting over 1000 likes.

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Oliver Lang

Of course numbers aren’t everything. After all, it doesn’t take much effort to ”like” a photograph.

However consider this:

Imagine a thousand people standing in a room. Do you know how big that room has to be? Your house can probably fit only a few hundred (depending on how big your house is). A conference room may fit close to five hundred. You will probably need a theatre to fit at least a thousand people.

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"The Beauty and the Beard" - Anton Kawasaki

Now image those thousand or so people, sitting next to one another in that theatre all looking at their iPhone or Android devices. Imagine all of those people clicking ”like” on each photograph, with 30 or 40 of them leaving some sort of comment.

That’s a hell of a lot of people.

Suddenly another quote came to mind from a tech article I read online: ”Now everybody looks at the world through a 3-inch screen”. I forget who said it, but the words ring true and got me thinking about the mobile revolution.

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Theodore Kaye

Think about how society has changed. The last time you were waiting in a line at the grocery store, how many people did you see either texting on their phones or checking their Facebook? Or couples eating dinner with their eye buried in their mobile devices? The last time it was your birthday, did you get more Facebook messages or phone calls?

Society is changing via our mobile devices-the way we create, consume, and share information. Regardless if you decide to conform to the change in society or not, I still think it is important to be aware of it.

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Koci Hernandez

Enter street photography:

So, where does street photography lie in-between all of this? A few points I would like to bring attention to:

1. You will start seeing more street photographers emerge than ever before

For the first time in history, the number of people living in cities outnumbers the number of people living in rural areas. What does that mean for photography? Well, as digital cameras get cheaper, more accessible, and the iPhone becomes the most popular camera– people are going to be taking a ton of photographs in the streets.

As social beings, we are always interested in the lives of others in our society. Think about how popular celebrity gossip news are. Think about all of the other people out there who love to ”people watch” when sitting outside in cafes. Think about our interest in reality television.

My point is with technology marching forward (and that our primary cameras are going to be attached to our phones) it will be easier, more than ever, to share your photographs. And what platform is currently the most used for sharing photographs with your mobile phone? That’s right, it is Instagram.

Consider that Facebook buying Instagram will make it even bigger and more popular. After all, who doesn’t have a Facebook account? And now that Instagram just released for Android, more and more people are now flocking to it.

2. Street photography will be focused on single images, not sets

For the last five years in my street photography I was always stuck in the ”Flickr mindset”– which is to upload really good single images that would get a ton of ”likes” and favorites. After all, the nature of the ”photostream” in Flickr forces you to focus on images as a ”stream of consciousness”– rather than focusing on the sets. Sure Flickr has sets, but whoever looks at them? I know personally I rarely do.

Instagram is like Flickr on crack. Once again, if you are active in the Instagram photography community, you are pretty much ”expected” to upload at least one photograph a day. And there is still no functionality in Instagram to create sets, or do ”photo essays” (although there have been some attempts for people to hack a solution by uploading a string of images at once).

Therefore, Instagram’s nature is to promote ”hyper-sharing”. You take a photograph, post-process it in-camera, tag it, then upload it straight to Instagram. No longer do you need to wait until you get home, dump your CF or SD card on Lightroom, spend tons of time post-processing, exporting your images, then uploading to Flickr or some other photo-sharing site, then tagging it and adding it to groups.

I don’t quite agree with the idea of constantly uploading photos everyday – but I will explain more of my opinion at the end of #3.

3. Instagram is simply easier, more streamlined, and faster

I have recently made the decision to switch my personal street photography to all-film, but it doesn’t mean that I am left out (or anyone else who shoots film). Just because you don’t shoot street photography with an iPhone or Android doesn’t mean that you can’t share.

You can upload photographs you have taken with your DSLR, point and shoot, film camera, or whatever to Instagram. In some circles of users on Instagram it is frowned upon, but as Oliver Lang said it best, ”Photography should be more focused on the community rather than the device.”

I can easily foresee that in the next few years when all DSLR’s come with Wi-Fi or 3G/4G/5G built-in. I doubt that point-and-shoot cameras will exist anymore, as they will all be integrated into the new iPhone 5/6/7 that will come out. There are already journalists who have wireless dongles that attach to their cameras (so they can instantly upload photos to their editors) to stay on top of the news.

Therefore I wouldn’t be surprised to see that in the near future, everyone will be uploading their photos taken on whatever digital device directly to Instagram.

4. Editing will be ditched for instantaneousness

The instantaneousness of instagram totally obliterates this concept of ”editing” your best work, and letting your work marinate (like a nice steak) before understanding whether the photo is really good or not. As Garry Winogrand says, ”Sometimes photographers mistake emotion for what makes a great photograph.”

The instantaneousness of digital photography nowadays makes us see our images too quickly, which makes us fall in love with the memory of taking the photograph, or the emotion we associate when taking a photograph. We have a much harder time determining whether a photograph is good or not based on the form (composition) and content (what is actually going on in the photograph).

The tough thing about Instagram is that if you are considered “active” in the community, you are “expected” to upload at least one photograph a day (to stay relevant). However I would say try to fight this. If you are a power-user in the Instagram community, I would say limit yourself to around 3 photos per week. Or even better, one photo per week?

I have some suggestions in the next point on how you can participate on Instagram (and be active) without having to personally share your own images all the time:

5. Some ideas how to participate on Instagram

So how can you be an active member on Instagram without sharing your photographs everyday? I see several ways, and have some ideas:

A) Feature the work of other photographers you admire (with their permission of course) and credit them.

B) Share inspirational photo quotes on Instagram (make it into an image to share, you cannot post text directly).

C) Share your best shots from your portfolio and spread them over time.

D) Give people a sneak-peak of the”behind-the-scenes” of your photography. Show photos of your film developing, your new photo-book, or photos of you and your friends out shooting.

E) Ask questions. Create a discussion or debate. Get people talking.

Get in as soon as you can

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Aik Beng Chia

If you aren’t already on Instagram, I highly recommend doing so ASAP. After all, if you wait too long, you will be left behind.

Some people to follow on Instagram.

To start, you can follow the MPG – @themobilephoto and individual member accounts:

  1. AikBeng Chia – @aikbengchia
  2. Benedicte Guillon – @iphoneographic
  3. Star Rush – @starrush360
  4. Anton Kawasaki – @anton_in_nyc
  5. Sion Fullana – @sionfullana
  6. Misho Baranovic – @mishobaranovic
  7. Olly Lang – @oggsie
  8. Theodore Kaye – @_meanwhile
  9. Richard “Koci” Hernandez – @koci
  10. Jim Darling – @mrdarling

And of course, you can follow me @erickimphoto

Conclusion

Times are changing in photography.

I recently read a statistic that this year alone, more photographs were uploaded to the internet than the last 100 years combined. There is the saying nowadays that “everybody is a photographer”.

I personally like the idea that everyone is now a photographer.

Photography was always something that only truly obsessive (or rich people) could afford to do. After all, when photography was first introduced- shooting with glass plates on a large-format camera was a) Difficult to learn and b) Time consuming and c) Expensive. Fast-forward a few decades and only the upper-middle class to affluent classes could afford DSLR’s and such.

The beauty of mobile devices (especially the iPhone) is that they democratize the playing field. The iPhone is now the “standard” camera being used by many out there- especially on Instagram. According to Flickr, the #1 device most used to upload to Flickr is now the iPhone.

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I recently went to the G-Street Photography Contest Exhibition in Melbourne – which was judged by Misho Baranovic and Tamara Voninski. Many contestants used an iPhone to enter the contest, and even had their work framed on the walls. Other contestants used DSLRs/other cameras.

By looking at the walls, I couldn’t tell which photos were taken with the iPhone and which were taken with the DSLR.

I don’t believe it matters what camera you use in street photography. You just want to use a camera that personally suits you, and that you are comfortable with. You don’t need to shoot with a Leica to get good images. You don’t need to shoot film to get good images. Just know your camera well, and have a passion for shooting street photography.

All-in-all, there are things I don’t like about Instagram (having to constantly upload images, lack of sets, over-abundance of photos of food and cats) but what excites me the most about Instagram is that a) It is a thriving and supportive community b) It democratizes photography by making it matter less about what camera you use and c) Forcing you to just go out there and shoot.

Chase Jarvis says, “The best camera is the one you have with you”. You will always have your iPhone with you – and therefore can’t make any excuse for not shooting street photography everyday.

Now just go out and shoot (and try to not upload too many photos of your cats and food).

What is your take on Instagram for street photography? Do you think it is helping promote street photography, or just producing tons of mediocre work? Leave your thoughts and comments in the comments elow! 

  • http://briscophoto.com/ Brian Scott

    OK, I’ve got to ask. Is this a typo? “…this year alone, more photographs were uploaded to the internet than the last 100 years combined.” Those first few decades would have very few images uploaded to the Internet, considering that there was no Internet back then. And I bet there were more photos uploaded “this year” than, say, the last 500 years too! :)

    Must be 10 years. That would be an impressive feat. :)

    • retro123

      lol, probably a typo and is that a good thing, even more photos, more of everything, no matter what?
      I don’t know, but I personally feel it’s a trend i dont want to or need to follow. I doubt it will help me in any way to become a better picturemaker. I will loose focus and concentrate on things not important for me.
      But that’s me.
      I’m moving to the direct opposite, working slower, contemplating longer over the pictures before posting anywhere.

      • http://www.wenmemoir.com/ RJ

        I agree so much with you, retro123. In fact, that’s what I do too.

        For me personally, I don’t really see a point to post on Flickr, instagram, etc.
        The majority of the users are just people that want to get those “likes”,
        although nothing wrong with it, but it is just not me.

        I have friend that like shooting landscape, flowers, fish, etc, but he can’t appreciate the works of Cartier-Bresson or William Klein.
        When showed a work by William Klein, he said “what kind of rubbish blurry image is this?”.
        Another time, when presented with a picture of cat or flower, he was like “look at how sharp this picture is, look at the fur of the cat”, and automatically fall in love with the picture.

        Go figure.

        Cheers… :P

    • Ernie Van Veen

      It is actually that in the last 12 months, more photos have been uploaded to the internet than the total of all photos published traditionally in the previous 100 years.

  • http://twitter.com/smileatchrisdev Christopher Devereux

    I agree with you on how instagram is a great app and being on android i’m a late adopter also. I think that instagram like other apps streamzoo etc are in my opinion just about getting followers i’ve even fell into the trap of it my self in recent weeks… Agreed there are some fantastic photographers on the app but how can a simple photograph of a cake for example have more likes then a superbly composed spontaneous once in a lifetime street photograph?

  • http://nijophotography.wordpress.com/ Niklas Josefsson

    BUT: Instagram is owned by facebook. If you upload or post something on facebook, the content automaticly is owned by fb. Probably the same thing with Instagram. Sorry for my bad english.

    • Erik

      For the moment Instagram hasn’t changed on this point.. but I’d be surprised if they didn’t. Facebook claim they need to “own” your pictures in order to legally reproduce them over various platforms (copyrights and the internet is a tricky business as sharing online represents many steps of “reproductions”/copies apparently), still this begs the question: how come others can share our content without taking ownership of it?

  • Greg Saveall

    Waiting for iphone5, wtf? Stick with Android, the hardware and software is better. With regards to Instagram, after watching your interview with MPG last week on youtube, I left my camera at home to see if mobile photography is as fun as you made out…..and guess what, it is! But I still crave the quality of a real camera after a while.

    • Photo Captured

      I pulled a challenge on myself. I had my high end gear, (both of my Nikon bodies and the Olympus PEN gear with me) but for two days straight I shot with my android phone. All in all I rather enjoyed it, and I liked the fact that it made me think. Since with the phone camera I am “limited” though only by my creativity because I have to figure out how to compensate for its lag haha! Quality is definitey a plus with my pro gear, but I have to say that if the android is all I had, I could survive (with a few extra batteries) I was draining it fast using the camera and my favorite editing apps!! :P

  • https://www.louisdallaraphotoblog.com/ Louis Dallara

    Great article with many interesting points, I trashed instantgram, but will try again.

  • Mike Avina

    #2 is exactly why Instagram isn’t the future of anything. Single images that are clever are the junk food of street photography–long-term projects that are coherent where every shot is amazing are what separates the wheat from the chaff of photography. I still believe that photo essays and books (virtual or printed) are more important and deeper than shots that are “keepers” that get faves.

  • steven ichikawa

    i just used my iphone for some street.. i totally agree with this post eric. its amazing how good these “cell phone cameras” are getting.

    http://steveniphoto.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/may/

  • Owell

    So let me see, digital digital digital,,,,,,,,, digital sucks, not good anymore, film is god, hooray film!!!,,,,,,,,, camera phone , camera phone, instagram……
    your all over the place.

  • http://www.michaelmeinhardt.com/ Michael Meinhardt

    I find the pictures on Instagram too small. I keep wanting to zoom in, but it doesn’t work. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000888508397 Donald Burghardt

    just another hype. Speed, speed, and once more speed. And indeed i expect lots of rubbish. I won’t be in.

  • Colin Corneau

    Let’s be clear – Instagram was purchased for a billion dollars because it takes the concept of social media/instantaneous sharing that Facebook pioneered, and applied it to photography.

    It’s because photos are secondary, really, to the nature of Instagram that I hesitate to agree with your premise.

    A point that I think can’t be ignored is the over-saturation of social media — we spend so much time sharing that we don’t spend any time actually thinking, or creating. Let’s remember one vital point: creativity happens in the empty, lazy spaces when we’re ‘wasting time’…and that just doesn’t happen if we’re wired on technological crack.

    I say these points as a dedicated iPhone shooter (albeit on Hipstamatic, mostly) and someone who knows how vital an online presence is.

  • Timokl

    There are other social media photo apps like Picplz, but Instagram is the one that got off.

  • Mike C.

    “why instagram will kill street photography” would be an interesting topic.

    • oggsie

      Hahaha, I hav also heard this from people who once said digital was going to kill street photography.

  • Cyberprimate

    I pretty much agree with all this.

    I had a look at Koci Hernandez pictures in Facebook. The number of fabulous pictures is really outstanding. So much so that I must admit I have doubt about their authencity as one shot pictures and not sheer photoshop constructions, but I hope I’m wrong. How do you take a picture like this?
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/koci/6752936421/in/photostream/

  • @missesjones

    Eric, sorry but… I think you’re a little late with your Instagram discovery. A lot of talented and passionate street photographers looking after real alternatives for themselves – and for street photography. It is way too much trash on Instagram.

    In addition, I have to disagree with you, unfortunately: It would be really sad to street photography if Instagram would be their future!

    Instagram means that photography is consumed. By Instagram there is an overproduction of photography that no one can really grasp. The pictures are small and your feed is so full, that you can just quickly skim it all.

    And… if you’re a great photographer and only post a special photo once a day, your skills in the flood of images will and can be no longer perceived at some point.

    So, my future of street photography is definetely not in the app of the masses Instagram… the future of street photography is to preserve the special!

  • Paul Lanigan

    I enjoyed this article. It seems to me that some photographers are more concerned with collecting ‘likes’ and followers than they are about enjoying photography for the sake of enjoying photography.

    Life is busy enough without having it interrupted with 1000 images sent to me on a device too small to fully appreciate them.

    Think about this, you have 1000 followers, each uploads one photo per day. It takes let’s say 30 seconds on average to look at and like/comment. That’s 500 minutes, or 8 hours – a full standard working day.

    People who use onstage am to ‘collect’ followers don’t give a shit about you – it’s all about their ego needs.

    I will not be using instagram, because I want to take images for me and not to feed my need to be liked

  • Erik

    The ”Flickr mindset” and the focus on single photos is only an issue if you let it be so. If your goal in photography is to collect “Likes” you will have to deal with this. For the rest of us flickr is just a way to store your photos and share them. I never discover photographers through flickr, I’m directed to their flickr account from other sources. The photostream is just a stream of consciousness thing so I always look at the sets to see how the users chooses to present their work.

  • Guest

    Wait, I thought film was the best way to shoot the streets?

    I’m so confused by all these ‘lessons’.

    • Owell

      I made the exact same comment, but I got deleted and banned…..
      Thanks Eric…. :) o well……

    • oggsie

      Shoot one way, share another.

      Don’t be confused, Eric isn’t advocating cell phone photography, he’s advocating mobile sharing.

      • Guest

        Pretty tough to do mobile sharing when you’re shooting film isn’t it?

        I stand by what I said earlier.

  • http://twitter.com/twocutedogs twocutedogs

    Eric – you talk about the number of people that view photography through their mobile phones as being as of importance here. I couldn’t disagree more. Unless you are a photographer that gauges success in terms of faves and views, it is not the number of people that like your work, but the number of people that have taste. I’d rather have one fave from a photographer/curator who I respect, than a 1000 faves from people that don’t know shit about SP. Instagram is full of social media desperados in my opinion. Who gives a shit whether 100, or 100,000 view a photo? Look at Thomas Hawk for example. He has a huge following and takes truly awful photos. The same can be said for quite a few street photographers (who I will refrain from naming).

    For me, photography is about trying to be an artist. Art best works when it is hung up on a wall. Photos taken with an iPhone might look OK at 8×10, but they will not hold up being viewed much bigger than that. Maybe in a year or two that will change.

    You also mention democratization. Hmmm. Photography is about the camera too I’m afraid to say. Large format, medium format, choice of lens etc. By taking away the photographers choice, you are taking away their creativity.

    This post does look a bit like a commercial for Instagram by the way…

    • Http:www.ericperlberg.com

      Agree!

    • oggsie

      There’s a lot to agree with here, however, I think that Instagram is the experience that you want it to be.

      There are Magnum photographers on Instagram that take horrible cell phone pics (and some good ones), but it’s your choice to follow or not.

      I hope Instagram is used to promote good photography, regardless of likes or follows. This is why I did a similar blog post for MPG a few months ago about not liking “likes”.

      If we establish a community within Instagram that respects and promotes good street photography it will influence the public perception of street in a way that benefits the genre.

      Instagram is a PUBLISHING community, with an emphasis on cell phone photography -of any quality. But there is room for publishing non-cell phone images, in fact it’s a great way to direct attention to other sites or links.

      IG will never replace printed publishing, but it was never meant to anyway. Don’t let the inherent weakness of the medium dissuade you from the advantages of reach and community building.

    • http://www.travisjensenphoto.com/ Travis

      I agree with most of what you’re saying here. IG is littered with garbage, but there is some pretty good stuff on there as well…you just have to look really, really hard to find it. I use it as a platform for my iPhone photos, though the only iPhone photos I shoot are with Hipstamatic, using the same B&W film combo, no crops, tilts or other app/filter wizardry applied.

      As far as the likes and faves thing goes, yeah, it’s pretty annoying, especially the whole “suggested user” list, where you have people that don’t know shit about street photography (or photography in general), getting their heads gassed to epic proportions by other people that don’t know the first thing about the craft either. It is what it is…

      And the photos I tend to like are not that popular, probably because they haven’t been ran through the app/filter ringer 1,000 times, don’t have unicorns prancing across the screen, or feature some bopper in scad clothing. The “Popular Page” on there is always good for a laugh, by the way.

      Also, I’ve seen iPhone photos, namely those that are shot with Hipstamatic and don’t contain any crops, tilts or other wonky app/filter magic, look fuckin fantastic at 30×30, no joke. Hipstamatic knows what they are doing…

    • stayadventurous

      I disagree here… sure it’s not about popularity, but it isn’t about getting one person to like you either, the person you judge with taste. In my opinion, that is the same game from a different angles.

      Personally, I love instagram and post images from iphone (I use a dslr mostly for my blog photos) and if people like it, follow me… great if not – I just keep being true to myself, not to mention its fun.

      stay adventurous, Craig

      • Picture Taking Lady

        agreed. it is the same game–the “who has recognition” game.

    • Picture Taking Lady

      It is not either/or. Personally I would prefer to have a small impact on many people than a big impact on one person. Photos can be hung on a wall, but the fact is that most photo are viewed on screen now. Famous, aging painter David Hockney did an exhibit of digital paintings he had done on his iphone: shown on iphones, ipads and large scale versions-many of them refreshed throughout the exhibit. It’s not either/or.

  • Russell

    Community?

    Most people can take a single good image, but can they put together a collection, time and again? Can they turn an apparent dull situation into something spectacular? That’s the true divide between the pro and the prosumer.

    Sure, there are people out there that will discover they have some of this talent; through the use of their phone cameras, the common problem though, as seen by the pro, is that “there are millions others who cloud up the ether with mediocre noise”, just looking for “likes”. Should that both you? No, because it’s not your concern.

    When you set out to get somewhere in the morning, you encounter all sorts of noise throughout your day, but if you are to remain in control, you let it wash over you – remain focused on your objective. That’s how best to get Instagram to work for you, create your own boundaries and use it in a way that suits what you do – like all other tools at your disposal.

    The future is mobile, we are building our business around it, but Instagram is just a tool for social sharing. It’ll help build your credibility, because the cream usually rises and everyone “likes” a good image – but where’s the value? To some degree I see this development akin to pro footballers joining in with a million person park kick about – sure they’ll get noticed, eventually.

    What’s the endgame, where is the challenge and the purpose to it all? That’s for each and every one of us to answer individually. Community, what community, we are all playing our own game and long may it last.

    • oggsie

      I don’t think you have had any experiences with potential community building on Instagram. That’s not a criticism, just an observation. Your points about quality are fine, but they echo a common thread I hear about IG and the need to find quality.

      The best images I have looked at for learning photography are the Magnum contact sheets book. The mix of misses and hit images are amazing for learning what to do and what not to do. I think IG can provide similar learning opportunities if you follow the right people.

      • AlexCoghe

        It is true, oggsie. I have only a partial idea of this community for the images shared through flickr (i don’t have iphone). And i agree with you: naturally i don’t think that all is crap there. If we can meet photographers like you, there is the proof that we can meet talented photographers. But the point is not this, i think. I argue that instagram is only another photo social network. I would not give so much importance to a normal social network…

    • AlexCoghe

      I quote: “Most people can take a single good image, but can they put together a collection, time and again? Can they turn an apparent dull situation into something spectacular? That’s the true divide between the pro and the prosumer.” 100% agree with your intervent.

  • http://twitter.com/nampix Nick Moir

    I have been a press photographer for 20 years and shooting street through the film days and into digidays. For me the combination of an unobtrusive camera and “instagram” was a wonderful injection of ethusiasm. i have discovered some dedicated streetphotographers only due to the app.
    Whereas previously after having ploughed through a day shooting news and filing it , picking up a film camera and shooting , process , scan and filing it to a website was a tiring exersise. I guess it is an instant gratification but to those who dont rate instagram then have a good look , there is some very good talent out there that quite frankly nobody would normally notice. I actually find the constraints from the lens and the Iphones camera useful as it forces me to concentrate on composure of the image rather than being tempted to go “a bit wider”
    you can post scanned film , digital slr or iphone pix on instagram , you just gotta make them digital.
    be cool photonerds!

    • oggsie

      Without IG I would never have met this bloke, who is an awesome photographer, and a great mate.

      Make the most of each medium people!

      • mark

        just fucking shoot, care factor on medium or process to get the end game for one’s enjoyment.

        • mark

          move this comment to the below comment please, sorry @ oggsie.

    • mark

      Nick, I like your points, and are a valid but I’m interested to understand the value of street photography and photography using a mobile in general and how to harness and embrace such creative endeavours without the trash around it (instagram>FB), basically a community based on achieving moments of clarity and story telling without the commercial involved to build what has been set from instagram? thoughts?

      • @nampix

        Form alliances with similar thoughts on photography and support each other, in 1999 me and 9 other australian photogs formed Oculi.com.au for tjis very purpose.Promote originality. There is plenty of quality on IG , just takes a few months to get the links to them but I rarely see anything original but that goes for photography in general.

      • mishobaranovic

        Mark, if you head to http://www.mobilephotogroup.tumblr.com you will see that our group is focused on story-telling not just Instagram. It is only one tool that we use.

    • Yerknickers

      “I actually find the constraints from the lens and the Iphones camera useful as it forces me to concentrate on composure of the image rather than being tempted to go “a bit wider”

      Why not exercise some self-discipline and just stick to one lens?

      • @nampix

        As a press photog we are issued a standard kit of 2 canon 1d mk4 , with a 16-35 on one of em. This lens is very easy to be tempted to go a bit wider. When I shoot street with these cameras I use a 24mm 1.4 , lovely lens. The iPhone is a challenge because of its nature and I find this quite enjoyable.

  • http://profiles.google.com/george.smyth George Smyth

    Each of the points that were offered appear to me to be a negative. Just speaking for myself, I feel that a well crafted project will always mean more than countless uploads with meaningless views. Others can go their way, I will remain in the darkroom, working on each print that I feel special enough to sign my my name on.

  • https://plus.google.com/101721685333960247536/about Jojie C.

    There are so much social networks out there that it is so hard to keep up these days. Luck/Unlucky for me is that in terms of mobile phones. I am very much in the olden world. I primarily use my mobile phone for calls and text messages only. I have no need for all these extra features.

  • DJWPhotography

    follow “JUMP70″ an amazing street photographer in spain some of the compositions and textures he has are breathtaking :) and follow “my_unexciting_life” aswell XD

  • http://twitter.com/blakewilliams Blake Williams

    This is a great post. Regarding your prediction about spontaneity overtaking the desire to edit, I have personally found the opposite to be true: The more I shoot on the iPhone, the more I like to get in an tweak images before posting. I like that I can edit while standing in a checkout line or waiting for a phone call. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the mobility allows me the freedom to post whenever I want, and therefore I tend to wait until I get results I’m happy with — rather than post right away. @keepsy

  • http://devinmjones.wordpress.com/ Devin Jones

    I can reluctantly agree with some of the merits of Instagram. It’s good as long as you don’t spend too much time with it. I’ve seen a few good shots, and quite a few more mediocre ones. But in the end, it’s turned me on to some good stuff.

    Saying it’s the future though, I’d disagree and certainly hope not. I think it’s more of another pond in which you can fish for inspiration. I think the same goes for Instagram as goes for flickr. Look casually, don’t play social media popularity games, and promote yourself without conceit. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Spend most of your time shooting the street, or whatever else inspires you.

    In the end, the best community is one you can meet honestly and face-to-face. The best sources of inspiration are the masters. The best way to learn is to do. If mobile photography leads you more in the direction of these things, it ain’t that bad.

  • AlexCoghe

    The point is: how many photographers there are in the world? Now: how many real photographers there are in the world? Because the culture of single photo is typical of the flickr generation and with instagram the situation can be just amplified, with pork burgers portrayed in holga style.

    I’m seeing every day this situation: there is a lot of “photographers” outta here, but when you ask for a reportage, or a full project, They don’t know how to select. A photographer is not only one who takes pictures, but a photo editor of himself. There is an huge amount of shared photos, but a terrible lack of visual culture.

    I don’t see many advantages from instagram. I see this like another photosocial network…tomorrow will come another…and another…

    The merits of the web: I do not think anyone doesn’t recognize them, the same worldwide Street Photography Community has benefited from this, but not… I don’t see instagram like “the future of Street Photography”.

    • sugars

      yep… and just on that editors point, its the difference isn’t it. I consider myself an ok photographer but a crap editor of ones photos.

      • AlexCoghe

        Sorry, but the professional photographers must be also good photoeditors of theirselves. Think when they must present a work for an agency or a newspaper…

        • brcbrwrb

           yah the difference is the pro photographer gets paid..and I beg to differ…Getty licenses images from Flickr all the time.

          • http://www.alexcoghe.com/ Alex Coghe

             I intend photographers that have projectuality…the difference is huge.

  • mark zuckerberg

    Eric, this post feels like a I’m in ground hog day and you’re a little behind the times on this. I think I agree it does feel a little commercial, hence my opinionated words.
    @twocutedogs is bang on with his/her comment. instagram is not the future, in fact it’s set the scene for the future and image in our main stream society but its not the end game or even close, everyone is a vehicle for the future of advertising as I see it, but not quality photography, that gets pushed aside, that’s of course if photographers hang there but theres not much on offer.
    Again editing always exists and will happen more in the field. All photographers edit in the field, in the case of film its also been in the mind and that’s what we’ve all loved about slowing the process (compared to digital) down but to think you you will shoot and send is not true at all. Editing is paramount to the process and always and will separate good photographers from great ones IMHO.
    @ oggsie, that’s the problem, the ux of finding and supplementing great photos and connecting is broken. They will be lost in the promotion of like and me too photos for advertising purposes. FB, and in general Instagram ain’t gonna make money from good photographs, thats not there business, they do it from photos and places of interest/products but not artist minded ones, as they are just a bonus to the ever increasing mainstream culture image platform.

    btw, point and shoots are dead and have been for 12 + months.

  • Jwillesee

    Great article! The old road is rapidly ageing my friends. Please get out of the new one if ya cant lend a hand.

  • Yerknickers

    “By looking at the walls, I couldn’t tell which photos were taken with the iPhone and which were taken with the DSLR.”

    But that’s because you’re NOT a photographer, you don’t know what to look for. All you care about is what your narrow range of experience tells you ‘looks good’. I’d be able to, because I know what to look for.

    And if you don’t know how to repeat it, you didn’t shoot it – the device did.

    See, contrary to all the artistic romance, photography is not just about ‘choosing the moment’ – that’s only a part of it.

    It’s also a technical art, and photographers *choose* their exposure, framing etc for dramatic effect – not ‘leave it to the camera’, hoping to *get lucky*.

    • mishobaranovic

      Yernickers, I disagree with you, Eric is a photographer and he does know what to look for. I reckon if you were there on the night you’d spot a few, not all.

      There were plenty of professional photographers at the G-Street launch. Whether they were editorial, commercial or fine art photographers, they were all at a loss to pick between mobile/digital and film.

      You know why? Because the mobile photographers had chosen the exposure, focus and framing for dramatic effect. There was no luck involved. If your ever in Melbourne I’ll show you how to touch expose correctly on an iPhone, how to zone focus and for good measure i’ll do it over and over again to show you that I control the device.

    • brcbrwrb

       I also disagree…what looks good to one may not be to another..Photography is a craft, but is ART first and foremost. Who cares about pixels and ISO levels if your pictures suck? And who is the one looking and judging, you the photographer or the person who is moved by your photograph?

  • igi

    Eric, I have to agree you are a little late with Instagram, people are leaving in droves to Streamzoo, Tadda etc.. Streamzoo being one of the better app sharing projects, no porn, no stolen photos, google photos or wallpapers and much less self whoring.

    Yes any content posted on Instagram gives them a world wide, royalty free license to use your photos how they see fit…and anything else related to fb too.

    However these photo apps are not so much about photography, they are about social interaction and ego massaging. Photography is second place on app sharing, how many users actually spend a little time to take in a photo? they click like and move on in a matter of seconds, they don’t look, they move on with a click. It is a game, a social media game.

    The popular walls are propped up by ‘gangs’ or ‘families’ which all click like on each others photos to take control of the app and the streams. The biggest of which I believe is ‘gang family’ or ‘gf’ with some 25,000 strong users in that ‘gang’

    I joke not, photographers in ‘gangs’ controlling social media platforms with carefully mounted plans to rise to the top :P:P:P

    Some ‘families’ and ‘gangs’ are well known on Instagram to mount cyber bullying attacks, hacking of accounts, harrasment of users that they choose or because they are a member of another family.

    Think about the absurdity of how that actually sounds, but it is real, be careful you may end up with a gang of henchman branding 70-200s ready to take you down, if you do something to one of the family :P

    Still sound like it is about art/photography?

    For me it is a sorry state that amateur photography has reached…A suggestion to use them as a device for marketing is better, for portfolios and receiving people that are truly interested in a body of work, or even a single photo, mobile photo apps are not the place, unless you desperately need someone to tell you how amazing you are on a daily basis, and those compliments come just because you clicked like on them too.

    Photo apps turn below average photographers into kings of the digital world, they are fooled by the others into thinking they are gods gift to art, the fall from such great heights are devastating as the new kids come along to play. But hey family and friends will always tell them, wow you are the best photographer in the world, right..

  • reyaizyu

    Do you live in a cave? Do you come from a shell? Are you actually a snail that doesn’t know anything about the world, which explains why you seem to think all of your insights are so profoundly unique that they must be shared in the most repetitive, boring, useless, generic article on Instagram I’ve ever read?
    “For the first time in history, the number of people living in cities outnumbers the number of people living in rural areas.”
    “I recently read a statistic that this year alone, more photographs were uploaded to the internet than the last 100 years combined. There is the saying nowadays that “everybody is a photographer”.”

    WOW!!!!!!!!! MORE photos were posted to the Internet THIS YEAR THAN IN THE PAST HUNDRED YEARS?! But the internet used to be so big in 1910! What happened!

    WOW!!!!!!!!! FUCKING WOWW!!!!! MORE PEOPLE live in the CITY than EVER. IN. THE. FUCKING. HISTORY. OF. THE. EARTH?!?!?!?!

    Get your fucking facts straight man. Notice, it’s the urban sprawl, not the suburban sprawl. The urban flight, not suburban. Urban populations surpassed rural ones fucking centuries ago.

    “Times are changing in photography.”
    Yeah, no shit, retard.

  • Shauna_b

    I disagree that the iPhone rivals the quality of the canon 5D mark II. Lots think they are street photographers but very few are

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  • Thomas Whitaker

    Reading this you have convinced me to get Instagram and use use it as the place to put my street photography. twhitakerphotos is me if your interested

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  • davida

    great article, if you want you can even turn instagram photos to magnets coasters and evem magnetic puzzle at onlinesocialprint.com

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