I turn up my collar as I ascend the steps. Not because I’m cold, but because I am afraid of being seen by someone I know. I walk into the room and find a seat, carefully avoiding eye contact with those already seated, the other people like me.
Before long it is my turn. I stand, nervously. I clear my throat, and in the steadiest voice I can muster I say the words that I have known for some time, but been afraid to utter. “My name is David Rann, and… I’m an Instagramaholic“.
So there it is. I thought I could try it just the once, see what all the fuss was about, and then leave it alone… or at worst, to use it very occasionally on a recreational basis. Oh, how wrong I was. Before long I found myself checking in before I’d even had breakfast, and again before going to sleep at night.
What am I talking about? Instagram. That old devil called Instagram. iPhone app of the year.
So what is it? It’s an app that enables you to upload images from your phone or computer (and so from your camera) or to take pictures which can then be put through one of the 17 or so effects filters before uploading for fellow addicts to peruse. These filters mainly come with their own borders too and your shot can be tweaked to to show a clear spot surrounded by soft focus. All of the filters have their own distinctive, usually very retro, look. Instagram images are square once uploaded so you can either pre-crop or crop during image selection in Instagram.
It’s very simple to produce striking and stylish images and present them to the world. And this is definitely a worldwide addiction. If the demographic I’ve come across is anything to go by, it’s especially big in the far east but I’m also currently following Instagrammers from Brazil, Europe, USA and Scandinavia.
You see that’s how it works: you “follow” people whose work you like and in turn, a few people hopefully also like what you’re doing and follow you. And that’s perhaps the dangerous part, addiction-wise. Every little message that appears on your phone to say that someone new is following you is like a mini ego-boost. You can also “like” any image to show your approval.
At least that’s how it should work. Unfortunately there are more than a few saddos who clearly follow everyone on the system (you can see a summary of the number of people someone is following against how many are following them at the top of their profile) in the hope that lots of people will follow them even though they might only have half a dozen images on their profile. Others leave pathetic messages against others’ images pleading for them to follow them, or saying “follow me and I’ll follow back”. All a bit sad and desperate really.
Also, I made the decision right at the beginning that this would be a forum for only my iphoneography and I wouldn’t, as many do, import images taken on my DSLR to disseminate via Instagram. While I can see why they might do this, it does rather defeat the object, in my view. Some pro photographers clearly use Instagram as a portal to showcase their DSLR work and they do make interesting and impressive viewing. However, I prefer to see images taken – if not on the Instagram app itself – then at least on a phonecam of some sort. I feel (and it’s just my opinion) that this is what Instagram is really best at.
There is a “Popular” page which is supposedly where the most popular images can be found. These tend to be HDR skyscapes/sunsets, pictures of pretty schoolgirls, kittens, shots of teenagers’ shoes, and the like. Not necessarily where you’ll find the best that Instagram has to offer, that’s for certain.
Some small comfort is that I am in good company with my addiction. Among the people I am following are Jamie Oliver, the chef and all-round talented geezer, who it turns out is a prolific producer of some great IG images, as is his wife Jools, and David Loftus (Jamie’s photographer). Also worth a look is lumilyon (aka our very own Nettie Edwards) and the extremely original julioestrela (wonderfully manipulated images).
Anyway, can’t talk now – got some images to IG!