Instagram for 'serious' photographers?

Download the app at photo snobs are scoffing at Instagram.

"It's debasing real photography," moans Kate Bevan, in The Guardian.

"The very basis of Instagram is... to feign talent we don't have," Rebecca Greenfield bristles in The Atlantic.

In fact, google "Instagram ruining photography" for more hate than you can stand. 

They're all missing the point. Instagram is a tool that you can use to create crap or great art... just like you can with a Canon 5D Mark III or Nikon D800.


What is it anyway?

Vote hair? Use Instagram to tell the stories of your day.Instagram is the ultimate shoot and share app for mobile photographers. Today they claim more than 80 million users who have uploaded 4 billion pictures. The photos keep loading at the rate of 5 million per day. 

Part of the reason for the growth is its simplicity. Take a photo, crop it to the square format, add a tint, and share your work with relevant hashtags. People can follow individuals or follow the conversation of hashtags.

Because Instagram is so easy, many users flood the site with mundane images of their lives. Just like those same people probably do in their Facebook feeds or Twitter accounts. It would be a shame to focus on them to complain about the platform. Many people also use Instagram to share creative and interesting images, participate in contests, or even communicate about their lives.

If you have... or plan to... take the leap to Instagram, many of the same principles of photography -- and mobile photography -- apply there as well.


Insta-photo principles

Keep it simple. 'Less is more' still applies with Instagram.Keep it simple - Less is more, especially when you have such little real estate. Pick one subject and a background that supports it. Remember that many people will be viewing your images on their small phone screens. Don't make them squint even more to see what you've taken.

Shoot often, share sparingly - With all apologies to Brooks Atkinson, the virtue of your mobile phone and Instagram is not the power it has to transform you into an artist, but the impulse it gives you to keep looking. And shooting. Your mobile phone camera is likely always with you, so you can always be on the lookout for great photo opportunities. Even better, you can experiment. Shoot often. Try different approaches. When you're done, be very selective of the images you share. Nobody wants to wade through 100 images a day from you. Take the best one or two and share them.

Composition carries the day - Composition will be one of your best opportunities to showcase creativity. Remember the principles from our 21-week photo challenges? Keep them in mind as you shoot with your mobile phone. Choose a clear subject. Fill the frame. Move the viewer deliberately around the frame. No filter can correct a poorly composed photo.

Tell stories  - You are likely capturing the stories of your life, so make sure your photos tell them. Take images when something is happening. Think about your hero, supporting characters and storyline. Think storytelling to shoot storytelling.

Follow and engage others - The beauty of Instagram is not just your opportunity to shoot photos but to engage with others. Find friends and others who share your artistic outlook and follow them. Get inspired from their work. Find themes or contest hashtags and join in. That's such an easy way to connect.

Give likes to receive love - We all know the Like buttons from Facebook. You'll also find them on Instagram. When you Like an image, you see a heart appear. Love. Don't be shy about sharing your support when you find other work you admire. Artists always appreciate the love, as you will when someone returns the favor.

Speaking of sharing the love...


Follow my Project 365, and I will follow your feeds as well

Follow and contribute images from my photo tours using #phototourdc

I just started using Instagram for my Project 365 approach. Follow me @lynspics365. I'm shooting daily for fun and sharing images from my photo tours using hashtag #phototourdc.

Follow along. Join in. Who cares what the photo snobs think. We're all 'serious' photographers.

Are you using Instagram? Tell me about your experiences in the comments.