At Gary Camera, we are approaching our 75th year in business, and wow things have changed! We have been fortunate to retain an incredible wealth of expertise and hands-on experience about the camera industry with our crew, each having a minimum of 30 years in the industry. This is a blog about how we've seen our industry change, from the view of a small business that has outlasted big competitors like Calumet Photo to Circuit City.
Before you read on, let me preface this post by admitting we appreciate what "good" Instagram has done. It has very notably created a worldwide network boasting over 300 million highly engaged users sharing photos from all walks of life. While it's not difficult to appreciate the thought behind the work of so many passionate amateur to professional level photographers on Instagram, the following is an argument that for all the "good" we can observe, Instagram is ultimately kiliing off our craft.
Here are the Top 6 Reasons Why Instagram Is Killing Photography...
1) Instagram mistakenly turns anyone into a photographer. What skill level defines you as a photographer seems less and less recognizable by the masses as apps like Instagram and smartphone technology inch closer towards digital manipulated quality that was once dominated by higher quality manual shooting of amateur to professional photographers. Ultimately, the line has blurred greatly between what is novice and amateur photography level.
Photo credit: Dan Steinberg - Envision - AP
2) The barriers to entry into the world of being a photographer have been brought down. All you need to do is own a decent smartphone, namely the iPhone. Cameras in phones have become as dummy proof as DSLRs and give you seemingly decent quality photos if you can just frame a shot and press a button.
Photo credit: Jason Cipriani - CNET
3) Buying a DSLR is implicitly discouraged by the instantenous satisfaction of life on Instagram. Why buy a DSLR that can't even upload your photos directly to Instagram? Most pros will tell you that they email themselve their photos, open it on their phone, resize them with an app like Instasize and then upload. But who has time for that in our fast pace lives? More specifically, why take on the burden when "my iPhone takes great shots and uploads directly to Instagram?"
Photo credit: Miley Cyrus
4) People are taking horrible photos, and receiving praise for doing so! Look up any posting about the psychology behind "Liking" a photo and you'll find it's not driven solely by an appreciation for what's there. We "Like" what others post because it's a new age way of interacting and supporting one another as a friend or family member. Unfortunately, very few seem to remember this thought process when judging a "great photographer" on Instagram to have 10,000 or more followers with an average of 500 or more Likes per photo.
Photo credit: memecrunch.com
5) Instagram perpetuates the death of printed photos. You used to not even bother becoming "a photographer" if you didn't first understand the craft of printing in a darkroom. However, with newspapers and other print media rapidly shutting down one by one, photograph prints are becoming more and more irrelevant. There's nothing wrong with the world going completely digital, but the consequences are plain as day as Instagram becomes the standard by which we share photos. I know I just got married and we haven't printed a single photo since 3 months ago! Why? Because we forget. We forget when our life revolves around social media photo sharing. Here's a crazy "what if," what if hackers took down Facebook and Instagram and managed to destroyed all or part of their cloud systems? Sounds crazy but who would have thought North Korea would wage a cyber war with Sony Pictures over a movie starring Seth Rogen?!
Photo credit: Non Sequitur Comic by Wiley Miller
6) Filters do make everything beautiful... to the untrained eye. What makes Instagram, Instagram, is filters. Mayfair, Valencia, Sierra... Kardashian (it's a filter that removes your clothes). They all do an amazing job at taking pre-set photoshop lighting, coloring, and image focus tools to give us quicker, easier ways to manipulate our Instagram photos. When's the last time you saw anyone leave more than 10% of all their photos as #nofilter. It's rare. There are quite a few amazing photographers out there who can boast about composing photos without filters or other digital manipulations, but for most, filters are a way of life. Filters have lowered the standards by which the masses judge photos more so than any other facet of Instagram. It takes no skill to use them. What's most ironic is that filters are said to allow for greater creativity, but instead they have created greater conformity as all who post to Instagram now use them.
Pretty soon, there will be a filter called "Real" and it will offer no manipulations. Just think how much cooler will it sound when you tag a photo as #real! (Your welcome, #InstagramNation for that gift.)
Photo credit: aprendiendosm.wordpress.com
Travis Blane is the son and nephew of store owners Mark and Barry Blane. He grew up working in Gary Camera and now resides in San Diego, California where he works in his startup headphones designer, Forte. Travis is still passionate about photography and continues to love what it has meant to him and his family's legacy in their Midwest small business.