A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...
Posts tagged "instagram"
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.
Filters? Filters are great. If I want reality, I’ll go stand at the DMV.
The same people who complain about Instagram filters would tell Jimi Hendrix to get rid of his distortion pedals. “Keep it real, Jimi!”
My friends The Butler Bros asked me to judge their #instabros Instagram photo contest for November. I happened to be reading Errol Morris’ Believing is Seeing at the time, so I went a little overboard and wrote a long-ish essay that they had to chop. Here’s the whole thing:
“All photographs are posed.”
How do you judge a contest? You must have criteria, or a criterion.
I figured judging a competition for my friends The Butler Bros would be simple: I’d just adopt their tagline, “It’s time for non-fiction.” I’d pick the Instagram photos that suggested stories that looked the least like fiction. Photos that were honest, truthful, authentic.
Using that criterion, I immediately become skeptical of photos that looked too good. Photos that looked like they were taken by expensive DSLRs and later posted from the phone were out. (But how do you tell? New iPhones take ridiculously nice photos these days, and Instagram reduces photo resolution to a point where you can’t know for certain what the photo was taken with…)
And what about filters? Are filters a fiction? What about Photoshop and 3rd-party apps on the iPhone?
What about cropping?
What about captions? To fake a photo, all you really have to do is change the caption.
Perhaps, as Errol Morris suggests, to try to find truth embedded in a photographic image is an act of folly:
The intentions of the photographer are not recorded in a photographic image. Photographs are neither true nor false. Uncovering the relationship between a photograph and reality is no easy matter.
No easy matter, indeed. In the end, I went with another (way less ambitious) criterion: I picked the photos I liked.
Here are 3 of them:
If all photos are posed, this was the least-posed in the November #instabros batch: a mosh pit at Fun Fun Fun Fest. It’s rare to find Instagram shots with so much energy—for one thing, something has to be happening, and a lot of times when we Instagram, nothing is really happening: think of all the lattes and sleeping dogs in your feed…
Captioned “lonely guy.” What’s his story? Who took the photo? (You never know, the photographer could’ve been dining with him, instead of behind him. Wouldn’t that be interesting…) Would I feel the same way about the photo without the caption? Once I read the caption, it’s impossible to know.
@Vanchocstraw’s bio is accurate: “a lot of walking the dogs in Austin, TX,” but I just couldn’t get away from this photo of the Top Notch sign against an Austin sunset. Does it suggest a story? No. Sometimes a photo just looks pretty…and that’s enough.