Why Everyone Should be Using Instagram

5416997214_6063388d1b_zFrom a great post by Nick Statt: “What Instagram Taught a Photographer About Life”:

And Dallas is not alone. He represents a sliver of the app’s 100 million users who are not professional photographers, photojournalists, or celebrities, yet have amassed a massive following through their keen eye and commitment to the community. To put it in perspective, Instagram cofounder Mike Krieger has only 65,000 more followers than Dallas. (Celebrities attract considerably more: LeBron James has 2.5 million).

But while it sounds like a dream come true—using a smartphone app to launch an Internet-based career on the side—Dallas has battled a common enemy in many heavy Instagram users’ paths: himself.

“I used to be kind of obsessed in a negative way,” he admits. “Instagram kind of consumed me.”

Before he had over 100,000 followers and before his Instagram presence became a revenue stream, he struggled with an issue at the very core of the photo-sharing app: the way it has latched onto its users and assimilated itself into our daily lives, for better and for worse.

“Instagram kind of consumed me.”

With Facebook’s backing, Instagram is here to stay, and the effects of its pressure to scan for, snap, and constantly think about shareable moments day in and day out is central to the way our digital existences bleed into our physical experiences.

“Instagram Is Not A Photography Company”

Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in a sit-down with Kevin Rose, of Google Ventures and Digg, at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, CA in May. Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in a sit-down with Kevin Rose, of Google Ventures and Digg, at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, CA in May.

When Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, a clean-cut towering Stanford grad, addressed a crowd at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco in May, he reiterated multiple times that the company he cofounded “is not a photography company.”

“Instagram is a communications company,” Systrom said. “It’s about communicating a moment. It just so happens that that message happens to be an image.”

His insistence of this point throughout the night’s Q&A conversation, moderated by Digg founder and Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose, bordered on the evangelical. Systrom showed an almost Steve Jobs-like marketing magic. He spoke as if the crowd needed convincing that Instagram was worth the $1 billion Facebook paid for it last April. They didn’t.

Instagram has no real competitors. Sure, there’s Hipstamatic and Flickr’s smartphone app and Twitter’s mobile photo-filter options, but none of these will ever come close to commanding Instagram’s near-synonymous identity with photo sharing in the minds of its users.

Projecteo, an Instagram projector that, for $34.99, can show off 10 of your shots on 35 mm slide, secured $87,000 in Kickstarter funding last year. Projecteo, an Instagram projector that, for $34.99, can show off 10 of your shots on 35 mm slide, secured $87,000 in Kickstarter funding last year.

We’ll soon have physical evidence. There’s already an Instagram-linked slide projector, and an upcoming Polaroid-made instant-print camera.

As Systrom said himself that night, “Anyone can make a filter app.” What Instagram did was different. It dug into our souls, and it’s part of our daily digital ecosystem on a private and personal level comparable only to Facebook, not coincidentally.

Part of its success was in the way Instagram took the hurdles of photography out of photo sharing.

For one, you can’t make an image horizontal or vertical; all photos are square. (Apple appears to be following Instagram’s lead—a split-second preview of the next version of the iPhone operating system showed a square-photo mode.)

Within less than a minute, your photo is telegraphed to the world. With Instagram, photography became more than just easy. It became natural.

Photo credit (top photo)

(Other photos are from the post.)

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