Photographers, embrace Instagram
Richard Koci Hernandez made this really nice video essay about why he loves Instagram filters on CNN.
As I’ve written before, “Making daily images — whether in a sketchbook or with an iPhone camera — makes people look closer at their worlds. And that’s a good thing.” A lot of the moaning you hear online somehow suggests that so many people taking photos is destroying photography, which, as Hernandez points out, is hogwash:
Photography is rooted in the rich culture of amateurism. What’s happening today is similar to the original proliferation of Kodak’s Brownie camera starting in 1900. An inexpensive and easy-to-use camera in every hand didn’t usher in the end of photography or automatically turn everybody into Richard Avedon.
And as far as filters being a form of “cheating,” let’s not forget that “cheating” has been part of photography since photography existed. I’ve always thought it’s best to think of photography not as capturing reality, but a matter of making images. The “truth” or “reality” of those images is based mostly on the context we put them in.
Hernandez says that because time will never bend or crack or fade his digital photos, “I add in the passage of time by using filters.” That’s an interesting take, but I like this take by Clive Thompson even more:
I think Instagram’s image-altering filters are a key part of my visual awakening, because they often take meh photographs and render them newly weird, making me look at the subjects in a new way… filtering makes me look at stuff with fresh eyes. The unaltered picture of that brownstone door was attractive enough; but after the Lomo filter I realized it reminded me of a Tardis. I began scrutinizing otherwise blasé stuff in my house, wondering, hmm, how would that look with a filter applied? […T]his, really, is what I love most about new communications tools. At their best, they encourage us to pay attention to our lives in new ways.
Filed under: Instagram