As I start to rock 'n roll in the world of photography in a public manner, I'm faced with the inevitable... to IG or not to IG? That is the question. Let it be known that Instagram here serves as a metonym for social media generally. Facebook, 500px, flickr, Behance, and other digital media publishing platforms ad infinitum. One more qualification is that I mean social media for networking, artistic, and photographic business purposes. I make no reference here to sharing with granny some pics of the kids marching out their first steps, which is awesome!
Before proceeding, remember, I told you that the blog was going to be journal-like, so if that doesn't interest you, sorry. But I'm sure that you'll be able to relate to some of the scattered thoughts propounded here... be encouraged, you're not alone. Anyhow, I used to regularly attend to my Instagram account, but due to personal pettiness and frustration I gave it up. There were a couple of other factors too but not worth mentioning right now. So what gives with the pettiness and frustration? You know the feeling don't you? "How can I get more likes?", "I can't believe they didn't comment on my photo!", "They got how many likes for that picture?!", "Am I posting enough or even too much?". When people speak of getting caught up in a rat race, I felt like I was the rodent in last place. I knew it was my bad, and so I bounced. Out with the programmatic envy and life was truly simpler.
Enter complexity, stage left. As noted, I'm throwing my hat in the ring concerning photography as a business of sorts, and you just gotta do it. As a friend said, "You'd be insane as a photographer not to do Instagram." I hope to find joy and fruitfulness in it, but have you ever felt the contradiction of the artistic impulse and sheer pragmatic concerns? I'll explain more in a bit, but the concern for me is exacerbated by the fact that most of my images, I anticipate, will be from my digital camera rather than from my phone. Mad props to those who use their phone in such creative ways pushing the limits of iPhoneography (is that a dated term?) and the like. This surely is no slight on these studs of said craft, but in landscape photography, for example, there's just no way to capture a bright and colorful sunset and foreground shrouded in shadow with a phone. And even if the image looked okay on a phone screen, and I've seen amazing things done, it couldn't stand up to technical scrutiny printed 20"x30" and framed on a wall. And so we arrive at an pointed example of just what I'm getting at, and you may have voiced it in your mind already... "Print a picture? Who'd do that!? What's the point?" Exactly. I'm learning the hard lesson that the imaging world has changed and I didn't see it happen. The idea of standing before a printed image labored to obtain, edit, print, and mount, and then to patiently ponder what the artist might be getting at, or read-in to it your own ideas, is all but dead. Don't mistake me here. Yes, I do lament that many photo and art enthusiasts may never enjoy such an experience, nor care to do so, but different strokes, right?! I too enjoy having billions of really good images at my fingertips. Plus, if there's little market for the printed image, the supply side needs to adjust... I get that also. My point here is to prompt reflection on how form affects function and to announce my difficulty in the adjusting to the modern ubiquity of amazing glowing images.
To make it even more concrete, consider this reality that you know you've seen, and maybe have even done. Whether it's on a photo-sharing site or even on somebody's phone, they exuberantly invite you to peep their images and you accept via subscription or something like that. There they are all, so pretty in a grid, so you click on the first one and off we go. How long does it take to have browsed through a dozen hard-earned images and to have double-tapped the ones you wanna give props to? Fifteen seconds...maybe 30? We'll split the difference and that makes it 23 seconds, which makes for an average of just under two seconds each. Again, I get it... on Instagram it can be no other way, except for the occasional comment. Life is busy, business is booming. But I challenge you to think about what this does to us as we consider photography as art and an expression of one's heart. Can a conversation and dialogue be had so quickly? Not really. And so to the extent that the sharing of an image is an invitation to discourse, so to speak, we miss out. Now make haste and be sure to like and share this post!