This blog, originally entitled ‘My love-hate relationship with Instagram’, has been reposted with permission from The Not So Rugged Explorer. Links the original can be found at the bottom of this blog.
Throughout my short time in photography, I have developed a love-hate relationship with my most used app, Instagram. The pros of using the app far outweigh the negatives as I will try and detail below.
There are many pros to using the Instagram app to help showcase your work. I think it is most commonly used by creators to get their work out there. Personally, I use it to document my life using photography. Which doesn’t mean to say that my Instagram is a total ego-fest. You won’t find photos of me posing in front of a mirror with my killer six-pack abs (if they even existed in the first place). Instead, I’m trying to show people how I see the world, what I like to focus on and what my interests are. Through doing this, I am racking in quite a lot of posts each week, and this year have contributed over 100 posts to my timeline.
This brings me on to my second point for why I love Instagram. It allows me to look through my work and check the progression I’ve made with my photography and editing style. As well as appreciating my own work, Instagram is where I draw inspiration from other photographers. There are a thousand different styles out there and hundreds of people killing it! There are so many good ideas of places to go and things to do with your camera that I rarely run out of ideas. I actually keep a list of all the things I want to currently try.
I’ll try not to prattle on too long and make this shorter as I can see on my Grammarly the reading time getting longer and longer.
The third reason I love Instagram is that it promotes positive interactions between creators. I often find myself scrolling through someone’s work, and when I see a photo that resonates with my own ideas, I will leave a comment. Usually,
this is then reciprocated. There are lots of people that say the generic ‘Nice shot man!’ or ‘Wow, love this’, but occasionally you get someone who genuinely loves your work and takes the time to write you a little comment like – ‘I love the way that you framed this subject, it totally draws me into the place’. It’s comments like those that make me not lose hope for the platform.
I hear you saying ‘all-in-all the platform doesn’t seem that bad then?’. I feel that if you can focus on all the above and nothing else, then you are going to be in a pretty positive mindset to using the app. So what are my cons or ‘hates’ to using the app?
The first con is something any Instagrammer will have experienced. Lusting after likes…that feeling when you receive your first 100 likes on a photo is excellent. You feel like you’ve made it, whatever ‘it’ is? After that, everything else becomes sub-par. The Instagram trap has already ensnared you. It becomes a game for how many likes you can achieve on each photo, and when it doesn’t go according to plan, it makes you feel utter pants! I have struggled with the ‘lust for likes’ this year, and as a result, I started this blog to give my photography more meaning. Fortunately, I have found my way back to sanity and only work on photography. I want to and don’t check the app for how many likes a photo got as I am holding on to my goals for posting.
This brings me to my second con, ‘chasing the perfect shot or ideal gram’. There are thousands of channels that have perfect looking timelines. The creator spends hours curating what photos to use and where so the grid lines up perfectly. In no way am I saying that this is the wrong way to use the platform. I admire those creators that can make every one of their photos fit in a perfect grid in one style. It’s not my style and not why I use it.
Creating the perfect grid also comes chasing the perfect shot. In essence, this isn’t a bad thing. I often have a shot in my head that I want to take on a particular trip. However, I have heard Instagrammers just taking individual shots ‘for the gram’ and personally this goes against all of the goals I’ve set out to achieve using the platform. It’s these pitfalls that lead you to lose all individuality as you begin to copy the same pattern over and over again.
So what now? Do I find another app? Do I delete Instagram to stop myself falling into those traps?
For me, the answer is to find balance and to remember my reasons for using the app. I’m not searching for likes or trying to create the perfect gram. I’m using it as a way to connect positively with other creators who appreciate my work, as well as developing my own style and documenting the way I see the world.
If you would like to see more of Jamie’s work then do go and check out his instagram at @jamieloftus1. Also make sure to go check out his blog The Not So Rugged Explorer. Special thanks to Jamie for giving The Modern Influencer permission to publish this post, a link to the original can be found here.