Instagram has been all over the news recently with the announcement that it’s being purchased by Facebook for one billion dollars. If by some small chance you don’t know what Instagram is you can read a review I wrote here. Stephen Dowling wrote a piece for the BBC online magazine titled “Has Instagram made everyone’s photos look the same?”. I was one of the Instagram users he interviewed, you can read the article in full here. I thought it would be nice to post my responses to Stephen’s questions in full in case you’re curious for more.
1) How long have you used Instagram?
I uploaded my 1st picture to Instagram on October 12th 2010, it was of sausages frying in a pan. Awe inspiring stuff.
2) How does it compare to using xpro/expired film?
I for one don’t use expired film unless it’s been refrigerated from the end of it’s sell buy date. Only two of Instagram’s filters look like Xpro (X-Pro-ii and Lo-fi) there alright but I still prefer the real thing. I generally don’t use the Xpro like filters in Instagram I prefer the subtler ones.
3) What keeps you shooting film?
Film forces you to shoot in a different way. I teach photography and I have noticed that when shooting film people will take a picture and move on. With digital they get stuck in a loop of taking a picture, looking at it on screen and then trying to improve it by re-shooting. With film people generally take a shot and move on. Once the film is finished you can hopefully look forward to the pleasant surprise of getting the film back and seeing what gems you might have. I can’t imagine not shooting film or using it as a teaching tool.
4) Are apps like this hastening the end of film or helping it survive?
I don’t believe that smart phone apps are helping with the demise of film, if anything they are getting people excited about it. There will be lots of people out there that will just use smart phone apps to take pictures and use apps to sex them up. But there will be those who will want to dip there toes in to the world of film photography. I am always pleasantly surprised when I teach photography workshops in colleges and universities to see the amount of students that use film. I have run the same workshop two years running with Bath University Graphics students, more used film the second time round and there not even photography students.
5) Do you think the apps are overused? People using them without really needing to?
I don’t think there over used, people who start to get serious about there none camera phone photography will start to digitally process / enhance there images to change them from there out of the camera state. Using an app on a smart phone is just the same thing as using image editing software on a computer even though it’s a little more limited. Once you start using Instagram in conjunction with other smart phone apps the possibilities are endless.
6) Do you shoot differently using Instagram than you would on film?
I do use Instagram differently to how I use film / DSLR, instagram images can be all about the immediacy of the moment when I want to let people know what I am up to. I generally send my Instagram pictures to Twitter and Facebook. I keep my Flickr stream for “real” pictures that I shoot with film and on a DSLR. I will shoot similar images on Instagram, digital and film. The quality varies and the times at which I post them on line will differ massively. Sometimes you might see similar images popping up on different networks days after I first posted an image to Instagram.
I take trend spotting pictures for Brighton Source Magazine on film. Recently I have started taken a few detailed shots of my street style subjects on Instagram as a teaser as to what might be appearing in the magazine. I know other photographers that use Instagram to document the behind the scenes of there shoots.
Whilst on the subject of Instagram
I am lomokev on Hipstamatic bye the way. I currently have some of my Instagram pictures on display in an exhibition in Berkley CA. For more details on that and the three other exhibitions I am currently involved in read this blog post.