When I put the call out for guest bloggers David from Blinded by Light put up his hand and suggested doing one on Instagram. I thought it was a great idea. It is a form of social media and one that many of us use. I love playing with, but after looking at his post, I can see I don’t use it well, or nearly enough. So take a look and see if you do.
To Instagram or Not To Instagram?
Let me just start this off with a short story, so lend me an ear (or two). A couple of months ago, I showed the photos on my blog to one of my friends, who replied with, “Dude, I bet you’d have a really sick Instagram”. Questionable language aside, I instinctively mentally scoffed and recoiled. All I said was “oh, I don’t use Instagram”.
What I was actually thinking in my head was “Instagram?? Of course I don’t use Instagram”, as if it was some sort of bizarre insult. I realise that I’m quite stubborn with my views on some things, but I am quite aware of it and I like to think that usually I have a reason for them. In this case, I guess that for a long time, I’d neatly pigeonholed Instagram into the category of ‘casual photography’. I thought that it was a place only for photos of cats and dogs and food, all taken with smartphones.
In a way, I think at some point I considered that Instagram and its filters somehow cheapened the art of photography. This is absolute pretentious rubbish, obviously, but I do have my “back on my day” moments, despite not being that old. I have been called a 1000-year old man before… Besides, I thought that anyone who’s a serious photographer (and has serious equipment) uses Flickr, right? Well, and 500px if you’re really good, I guess. I’d already been using Flickr for my old film/toycam photos on-and-off for years, so Instagram didn’t factor into the general scheme of things.
As I said, I’m a stubborn, stubborn man, so I held that view for a very, very, very long time. Not until my partner Tiff started using it did I even think about using it again and even then it took a lot of convincing. She picked up Instagram as an adjunct to her knitting/sewing/craft/life blog, so it didn’t seem super relevant to me initially, since I neither knit, sew nor craft. I guess I do partake in a bit of living on a day-to-day basis, though.
The point is, one day Tiff was telling me that Instagram is super fun and that I should post my photos on there too. I raised the above points to her, thinking I was making very valid points, but then she proceeded to show me a series of amazing photos on Instagram. That sure showed me! I was genuinely surprised to see photos taken using everything ranging up to 5D Mark III. I started to use it, slowly, but I wasn’t really sure how to use it properly, alongside my blog. Since then, I’ve been Instagramming my old photos, along with ones I don’t think are quite good enough for blogging purposes. Turns out Tiff was right – Instagram is a hoot.
Instagram didn’t invent the hashtag system (as far as I know, anyway), but it really does make it easier for you to find specific themes, as well as making it easier for others to find your photos. I haven’t been using Instagram for that long, but I’ve already had the local museum and university alumni contact me and repost my photos on their own Instagram and Facebook pages. I’m not making any money from them (I’m not looking to), but it’s great validation that people actually like my photos.
Don’t forget about Flickr
I do still very much like to use Flickr, but it was never really the same after Yahoo bought them out way all those years ago. It might be just me, but I find the site irritatingly difficult to navigate. It’s not that it’s actually challenging, but it just feels like it’s harder than it should be to find whatyou want to look at. For example, I still haven’t figured out how to browse a list of the groups without typing in a search term. In saying that, I’m nowhere near a professional level and I’m taking photos purely for fun. I know that the pros are able to leverage Flickr to find work, so I know that the Flickr community is alive and thriving. It’s become a place where I occasionally bulk upload my photos, not all of which end up making it onto my blog.
Other social media networks:
I’ve focussed on Flickr and Instagram so far for obvious reasons, but we shouldn’t forget about the other heavyweight social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
In my mind, Facebook was the first of the big-hitting social media sites. While I don’t use it for photography, it’s easy to see how it could be a staple for anyone serious about their photography. It’s an easy way to interact with your fans, secret admirers, clients, what-have-you. Plus, most people use Facebook in some form already anyway.
Twitter is one service I’ve never quite figured out, so I can’t really help you here. I guess tweeting links to your posts could work as an easy way to reach out to more people
Google+ is an interesting one. I was one of the first to jump on the Google+ bandwagon, though I wasn’t hopeful that it would ever get anywhere. Since then, it seems Google has bet big on it, rolling it into a lot of their services. Some might say they’ve integrated it a bit too much, but that’s a discussion for a different article. It seems to have carved a niche for itself though, lying somewhere between Twitter and Facebook. It seems like its become a nice way to follow sites/brands/people you like, while still maintaining a way to interact with them. Additionally, by setting up your own Google Plus page might also have the possible additional benefit of search engine optimisation. No-one knows the search algorithms employed by the servers at Google, but it can’t hurt to have more hits to your name.
At the end of the day, social media sites should be viewed as additional avenues for us to reach out to more people. My initial reaction to Instagram was just my stubbornness and arrogance showing through, more than anything else. What I love about photography is that it doesn’t discriminate and it breaks down barriers. A powerful image can convey a range of themes and feelings, without a single word, and that’s something that can be achieved with any equipment and through any outlet.
David has given us all his links above, I will have to make sure I am following him. My Instagram is in the side panel, but I may have to see if I can start using it for other photos besides what I take with my phone.
I hope you will all thank David for me, I think this a great post. I think he is answering the comments, so any questions, David will answer them. Thanks David. I also have a gallery with some more images.