I’ve been using Instagram for a couple of years already and I absolutely love it. I take LOTS of photos with my phone because how could a photographer have a camera in their pocket all the time and not use it ALL THE TIME? Sometimes these photos are taken with the intent of creating something artistic but most of the time it’s more of a “Look at my nail polish/new hair colour/cat doing something interesting” situation, so I don’t consider those pictures to be the same as my intentionally artistic photography.
I’m not telling you how YOU should think of your own photos. This is just my own particular dividing line and I’m mentioning it here to give context for everything else I say in this post. If I showed you my personal Instagram account, you would not believe I was a photographer with formal education and years of professional experience because as lovely as my nail polish, hair colour and cats might be, my focus when I’m throwing random things onto Instagram isn’t “Behold, my greatest work!”. It’s “Behold, my pretty nails/fabulous hair/awesome cat!”.
I’ve been toying with the idea of setting up an Instagram account for my ‘real’ photography for ages and finally got around to it today because a) I have a day off work, b) I’m not well enough to go out anywhere even though the weather is amazing, and c) Once I get an idea into my head, I have to do it. The screenshot at the top of this post is my very-recently-created profile.
One of the loveliest things about doing art-for-art’s-sake rather than art-as-a-business is that it doesn’t matter if those four people who followed me within a minute of setting up my profile are still the only four people following me this time next week or next month or next year. I’m gloriously free of the shackles of having to prioritise getting my work ‘out there’ and hoping people like it enough to hire me. I do love sharing my art though, almost as much as I love looking at other people’s art, and Instagram is another fun place to do that. I have absolutely no idea if Instagram is particularly great for sharing intentionally artistic photography (it’s pretty damn good for sharing those nail polish, hair dye and cat pictures though) and I’m not really considering its merits as platform for building an audience or promoting a business, so do bear that in mind as you read on.
WHAT I LOVE <3
Instagram is easy. Like really easy. Like “set up a profile and start posting in less than two minutes” easy. It’s also familiar, because I’ve been using it for ages already (as lots of you probably have too).
The controls are intuitive and editing tools are improving all the time. What started with simple filters has now been extended to include so many tuning controls that when I’m posting personal pictures, I often don’t even bother using Snapseed or VSCO Cam any more before loading the photos into Instagram. Full disclosure, I’m 99.9% sure I will never use Instagram’s rather fabulous editing capabilities when uploading to my RockstarVanity account because I’m using that account specifically to share finished, intentionally-artistic, mostly-taken-with-a-dSLR photos so would have no need to edit them before uploading.
Photos have a tendency to look rather beautiful on phone screens. Turn the brightness up and fall in love as those rich colours come to life and smack you in the face with their intense gorgeousness.
Instant feedback and interaction is fun and I’m all about the fun when it comes to photography. Because FUN!
WHAT I DON’T LOVE SO MUCH </3
NO MULTIPLE ACCOUNT SUPPORT. This annoys me so much I had to put it in capital letters. It is SO frustrating not being able to switch between accounts quickly and easily. Yep, if you want to have more than one Instagram account, you have to keep logging in and out. I know, I know, first world problems, but it is irritating. There are loads of reasons why a person would want an Instagram account additional to their own personal one. You might manage an additional account for your workplace, your community group or for a specific project or subject, for example. While there are lots of great tools for monitoring multiple accounts on a computer, the phone app is a strictly one-at-a-time deal. This bugs me.
You can ONLY upload from a mobile device. Even though you can log in to your account on a computer, allowing you to view content and edit your profile, you can’t upload from there. I know Instagram started life as a mobile app and for all I know that’s all it’s ever going to be, which is fair enough cause it’s not like there’s a shortage of photo hosting and sharing sites on the internet, but it would be so lovely to be able to upload from a computer if only to get around the fact that there’s no multiple account support in the app.
ME-SPECIFIC THINGS WORTH MENTIONING
Because Instagram is a no-nudity place and I’m not completely sure how they feel about gory pictures (even if they are make-up-gory not actual-gore-gory), a lot of my work isn’t going to find its way there. I’m always super careful about not violating the terms of service for any platforms I use and tend to avoid taking risks when it comes to potentially upsetting people who want to browse a no-mature-content kind of place.
After a lot of thought, I decided not to share photos of other people (or at least where other people are recognisable and identifiable) on Instagram because when I was doing a lot of work with models in years past, Instagram didn’t exist and although I own the photos blah blah blah, I don’t feel it’s fair to show them in a manner that the models didn’t agree to. Also, with embedding and sharing becoming increasingly common, I have accepted that once I post a photo on Instagram, I pretty much relinquish control over the context in which it may be viewed. The only faces you’re likely to see there are mine (because I’m ok with me sharing photos of me), my husband (because he’s ok with me sharing photos of him) and possibly, in the future, people I work (or play) with who give specific permission to have their images shared on Instagram. It matters so much to me that I don’t do anything with pictures of people that the people in the pictures aren’t absolutely, definitely, 100% alright with and this hasn’t changed since I stopped running my photography business.
I’m unlikely to do lots of following back from my RockstarVanity Instagram account, apart from possibly people who focus specifically on artistic photography. As with Twitter, I plan to keep photography posting and following separate from personal posting and following, so if you follow me and think “That BITCH! She didn’t follow me back!”, there’s a chance that I did…but you just haven’t realised ;-)
Do you use Instagram to share artistic photography?
What you love or hate about it?