16 October 2012

Looking at life through a pee-colored lens

Cute cat, but he will be even cuter when his liver disease clears up.
photo credit
I know I may ruffle some feathers with this post, but I have to say it...

I hate Instagram.

I am contrarian enough to dislike it just because it seems ubiquitous these days, but that's not my real problem. My real problem is that not every snapshot should look like it has been fading for 30 years in a shoebox under someone's bed. Sure, occasionally it is is kind of fun to see a cool effect that someone has achieved in the pursuit of creating an interesting image. But as a means to convey information about a life? Meh. I don't find it interesting to see fuzzy, grainy, pictures with distorted colors and a loss of detail.

Like I said, I can understand that there are times when it can be pretty cool, but overall I'd rather look at images that were interesting for their own sake.

From Instagram's FAQ page:

"Snap a photo with your mobile phone, then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever."  Because without a filter it just isn't a memory.

"We're building Instagram to allow you to experience moments in your friends' lives through pictures as they happen." But our friends are so boring we needed to do something to keep us awake. (Or the alternate response: But we think all of your friends' lives should look alike.)

 "We imagine a world more connected through photos." And what connects you more than a fuzzy image with all sorts of indiscernible details?

"When we were kids we loved playing around with cameras. We loved how different types of old cameras marketed themselves as "instant" - something we take for granted today."  We get it, Polaroid is dead and their cameras produced crappy photos.

"Mobile photos always come out looking mediocre." But not mediocre enough. We decided to magnify the mediocrity.

"Our awesome looking filters transform your photos into professional-looking snapshots." And what says professional like grainy?

If you use Instagram images on your blog or on Facebook, I still love you. I just wish I could see you more clearly.


  1. I really like Instagram, but I do get irritated with what people post. A bad photograph is a bad photograph, and no filtering will fix that.

    What I like about it is the squaring of the photo and the effects - that's exactly what photographers do in the darkroom and in Photoshop, as I've taken photography courses in the past. So I take no issue with filters. I take issues with bad photos.

  2. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I don't. The Instagram photos, I mean. I suppose if I had to choose, I'd choose clarity and reality, even an old faded Polaroid because the "old faded" is part of the nostalgia of looking at an old photo. What bugs me more often is the use of hand-held cameras in films. A little goes a very long way. Too much gives me motion sickness - literally!

  3. Ha! I'm with you, Thomas. I think a lot of the photos people share end up looking the same. But without ever having used Instagram myself, I don't know how much that is endemic to the app and how much if it is that people seem to choose the same filters. Then again, I can imagine myself wanting to add some sort of blurring or fading filter to mask a mistake of a picture I wanted to keep or share didn't turn out right. But I'd rather just have a nice, clear picture.

  4. It's still only available on iPhones and Androids, isn't it? I went off to see if I could use it, once, because I saw it everywhere. Turns out everyone has a better mobile than me.

  5. Thank you; AGREED! I was just in Highpoint for market and all of the other bloggers were insta-gramming everything. I tried, unsuccessfully, to avoid major eye rolling.

  6. I really get fed up with all those saturated colours. I like seeing peoples pictures, but as you say it's even better when you can actually see them.

  7. Pick Girl: You are exactly correct. It is the users who have abused the filters. I think when professional photographers use them, one doesn't really notice.

    Leticia: I get sea-sick from handheld video cameras as well. I had to walk out of the Blair Witch Project about 15 minutes in.

    Teresa: I haven't used it either. But I have never used my phone for a photo.

    Simon: You should see my phone.

    Susan: I was worried about offending people.

    Stefan: I hope they didn't use filters from High Point. Kind of defeats the purpose of trying to show people what is there.

    Hayley: Plus the all end up just looking like stock photos which makes them so much less interesting.

  8. I just recently got an iPhone and have been enjoying playing around with Instagram and kinda like it, but I am getting a bit annoyed with all 1970s wanna-be shots. My partner detests Instagram and believes even a good composition is often ruined by the filters, especially since some of them are so over-used that pictures are starting to look pretty much the same. Pee-colored, indeed.


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