The Harbinger Online

Photo Editor Explains Dislike for Popular App “Instagram”

[media-credit id=147 align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]My biggest problem with Instagram is that it’s influencing the general public’s perception of good photography. Technically, a photo should have proper composition and correct coloring. With Instagram’s standard square crop and overused filters that’s nearly impossible. Photographers are taught that squares have an unappealing composition because when the viewers’ eye looks at the photo it has a very unnatural path. With the app’s preset filters that can’t be adjusted on an individual basis, few photos will ever get the proper coloring they need. Instagram’s filters mimic actual darkroom techniques that used to be a craft 30 years ago, but are now just thrown on a stupid picture of someone’s lunch with no thought as to when the effect originated.

We need a better  appreciation for real photography. Many users of the popular two-year-old app think these features make photos better, but it’s quite the opposite from a photographic standpoint. Many Instagram users may think that their photos are comparable to professional photography. This theory threatens to dilute the public perception of good photography, and frankly just scares me.

The amateur photographer is bleeding to death, wounded by freshmen girls who think a filter makes them a “photog.”  When our parents were our age, taking a photo was a process. They had to manually set their exposure and focus, and then get their photos developed, which would at least take an hour.  Most of you don’t even know what I am talking about because today we have automatic cameras and iPhones that do everything for us. This is great and makes everything faster, but the automation of the photographic process can actually make photos worse because it takes away control from the hands of the user. Most Instagram users never realize that their phones’ automatic exposures are not always correct and manual adjustments are often needed. Not only does the automation of the process hurt the visual quality of photos, but it takes away from the user’s appreciation of the photos. Instagram users might not understand what’s gone into their finished products and therefore can’t appreciate their photos as much a photographer who has done the process manually.

A new Doritos Locos Taco commercial featuring a slew of instagram images got me thinking. Are those photos from everyday Instagram users? Can Instagram take anyone’s photos? Did instagram make money off those pictures that the public took? The first line of Instagrams “terms of use” says “Instagram does NOT claim ANY ownership rights in the (content)”. That seems reassuring to most, but being the anti-instagrammer that I am, I read on. The next line says that “By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content on or through the Instagram Services, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content.” which basically means they can have unlimited, free access to every photo that goes through an Instagram filter. The rest is up to individual interpretation, to me it seems very open-ended. I think if they wanted to they could easily sell photos straight off instagram. What if Instagram sold your photo of your burrito to Chipotle and you don’t get any of the profits? This conspiracy might not convince you to stop using your favorite photo app, but just wait till your photos are being used in advertising without any reparations to the original artist.


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Jake Crandall

Jake is the Print Photo Editor. This is his third year on staff. His inspiration for being a photographer is Peter Parker (Spiderman). Read Full »

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