Instagram, What Happened?

I’ve been wanting to write more about Instagram. The free photo-sharing app has become a parody of it’s earlier incarnation as a hip, relatively small and artistic media community (check the link for an absolutely hilarious College Humor music video). I love the app and hate to give it up for several reasons, but Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram has resulted in a shift towards profiteering from the massive explosion of new users, that is turning ugly. I understand the need to monetize the service in some way. Why not charge a couple bucks to purchase a Pro version of Instagram that has more features for creatives? The new Terms of Service may force me to close my account. Once these terms are active, Facebook becomes the world’s biggest stock photo agency, with license to sell every user photo uploaded to the Instagram servers with no renumeration or even acknowledgement of use to the photographer. LOL, sounds great for Facebook. (DISCLAIMER: I am one of a minority of adults in the United States who has never had a FB account.)

I love Instagram for getting me into iphoneography. I can shoot, edit and post a favorite new iphone camera snapshot much faster than I can write this blog post. Here is a favorite recent image, taken on a mountain bike ride along a ridgetop forest on a misty Sunday afternoon. I photographed the trees as I was turning to leave the park. Later, at home, I edited in Snapseed and ScratchCam, before uploading to IG and adding the Sierra filter. All the editing brings into high definition some rich detail, while remaining true to the softly lit old oaks.

There are wonderful photographers all over the world who share on Instagram, so I have virtual PenPals from many countries, who like and comment on my work. I share photos with people in Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, England, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Sweden, France, Germany, Greece, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, etc. The beauty is in showing them my own world and visiting theirs in return. I stick to my own interests like architecture, signage, typography, design, landscape, street art, and find a vast candid camera sending beautiful, haunting, grand or goofy images to my phone 24/7.

The announcement of the new terms unleashed a torrent of criticism among IG users. It’s a perfect storm for Instagram, as parent company Facebook is already suspect for their botched IPO earlier in 2012. IG founder Kevin Systrom was forced to respond, “Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos,” he wrote. “Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period.”

2015 UPDATE: Instagram has evolved into a free marketing platform for artists, photographers, celebrities, museums, numerous retail companies, etc. In a world where Social Media reaches more people than ever, the immediate visual impact of an Instagram post makes it a vital platform for designers and photographers. My gallery can be viewed HERE.

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