Instagram or Latergram?

Instagram or Latergram – Pro photographers potentially ruining a fun photo sharing community?

Nobody Steps on a Church in my Town - © 2011 NateBenson.com Shot with Instagram

I started using Instagram when it launched in the app store back in Q4 2010, and I loved the app immediately. That being said I didn’t really post to much to it. This was during a time when I was focusing on other social networks that were resulting in hits to my website and job inquiries. More recently however I have been posting to instagram as I travel for photography jobs and even posting old iphontography shots. I use to follow quite a lot of people on Instagram despite my not posting to it and I did this because I wanted to get a pulse of what other photographers were doing and what my friends were shooting. I was more or less just a lurking instagram user.

Sometime last spring something started to change in Instagram. Professional photographers were all of a sudden uploading DSLR shot and photoshop/lightroom edited photos to instagram as a means to share them. As you will learn this is a slightly trivial argument, but hopefully my argument makes some sense. Instagram is an incredible mobile app that, at its core, is designed to be used with your iOS camera. With Instagram you’re suppose to geotag where you currently or recently were, and your friends are allowed to like or comment on the photo – it’s meant to be an on the go, quick app. Compared to the number of iOS devices on the market Instagram has a relatively small user base, hovering around 10 million active users.

So what is the benefit of uploading professional photography to Instagram? My feeling is that there isn’t any benefit to spending the time to sync photos to your mobile device specifically for sharing on instagram. There are dozens of professional photography apps and services in the market today that are specifically suited for professionals to share. Professional photographers have Flickr, Picasa, and 500px just to name three of the more popular services. Flickr is the obvious photo sharing heavyweight champion with over 50 million registered users, over 6 billion photos in their system and is ranked the 34th most visited website in the world and mars. Not exactly a lightweight website, right?

Why are so many photographers posting their professional shots to instagram? I think there’s a few reasons, and it’s bigger than instagram itself.  Since the advent of Twitter and Facebook there’s this sense of online celebrity that everybody seemingly yearns for. These people want to be the go to person for all things social media and they want to be known as the Twitter guy, or the Google + girl. These people want 300,000 people yearning for their next post or next photo so they can get even internet fame and glory. I get it. Everybody wants to be famous, everyone wants to be a Kardashian – famous and rich for doing the minimal amount of work. I get it, and somedays I want the same thing. So these very gifted photographers are joining every new social media start up and flooding it with their professional content with little regard for what the service is intended to do. These people also tend to have the same work across multiple platforms which is also detrimental to for people looking to discover different sides of a photographers talent. If I have the same portfolio loaded on G+, Facebook, Flickr, 500px and Instagram what is the point of even maintaining all these services. I absolutely understand the value in participating in some, if not all, of those services, but if you’re sharing the same 50 or 100 photos across those networks than really, what is the point?

The point is that these people are yearning to be noticed. They want to be known and they want to be successful. Again, I get it. In order to be successful there needs to be strategy behind your social posting and you need to use these social tool as their intended. There is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t post your DSLR edited shots to a service like 500px, google+ or flickr, that’s is what they are there for. Instagram is called Instagram because the service is suppose to represent the photography you took in….wait for it….an instant. To be blunt, just because you are able to upload photos from your iOS photo library doesn’t mean you should. Photographer, including myself, sometimes have a difficult time identifying who their audience is and this is another reason we have these social faux pas’. Perhaps they just don’t understand people want to see on the go photos on Instagram, not fully edited produced shots fresh from Lightroom or Photoshop. Uploading these profesional shots because Instagram is a fun and easy way to share doesn’t legitimize the action. We’re not dealing with UN level diplomacy here, but I strongly believe photographers should respect the intention of these social networks and ultimately enjoy them like the rest of us do and not worry about always presenting their top work that has been delicately edited for hours on end.

In conclusion, understand who your audience is and use social networks as their intended. Everyone will be better off if we just see the best iphonography on Instagram instead of fully edited DSLR quality shots.

Until Nt. @natebenson

24 thoughts on “Instagram or Latergram?”

  1. Absolutely right. You’re saying everything in this post that most people would be afraid to say at the risk of sounding insecure or jealous or what have you. The fact is that it’s none of those things. It’s merely the truth.

  2. Totally agree. It seems almost silly to me that photographers upload DSLR images to Instagram… I don’t follow them on IG to see the same images they’re posting on Flickr or their blog/website. I want to see more personal, day-to-day images.

  3. So is the bottom line…pro photographers should post and tag on latergram and not instagr am? Conversely, should non-pros not tag their images with #latergram on instagr am posts?

  4. I wouldn’t say “everyone wants to be famous or a kardashian…etc”
    I just unfollowed a bunch of DSLR Latergrammers on Instagram when I realized their pics are uploads from professional cameras. I am on there to enjoy Instagram shots, whether they choose their creativity w/Instagram filters or outside apps or even post “later” it’s still instagram. I’ve had to post later myself due to connection issues when I’ve traveled & tried to instagram but uploading your DSLR to instagram makes the app pointless as you say.

    They should all use Sreamzoo APP as it’s also a desktop platform & allows users to upload DSLR photos to Streamzoo & there are tons of those on there).

    @DuongSheahan
    @IPhotonista

  5. I completely agree. It feels like cheating when I see photos in Instagram that were obviously not shot with an iPhone (or Android phone now) and edited with the app. I’m not sure why professional photographers would want to do it either. It’s not like potential clients are looking for you in Instagram.

  6. To each his own. If you don’t like it, don’t upload your DSLR pics and don’t follow those who do. Isn’t it just as pointless to rant and rave about what people are doing with their own time on their own profile.

    And the way I look at it is that IG is sort of like a visual Twitter. A window into your day/mind/life/dreams what have you. If that happens to be a photo that you spent 2 hours composing and editing who the hell cares.

  7. I agree with this sentiment. I recently joined Instagram thanks to the new Android version of the application, and I have been surprised at (and a bit confused about) the number of DSLR photos I’ve seen. I mean… I thought the point was to upload cell photos. And… as I go through the photos of those I’ve begun to follow, or those who are following me, I don’t add the DSLR (much less the HDR over-processed) shots to my favourites. In my opinion, there’s a principle involved.

  8. Great article, totally agree with your sentiments and those of the responders… I guess as consumers we always have the power of choice and only need to “follow” the photographers (er, iphoneographers) that we want.

  9. I think the point is to share artistic photos. I’m ok with people using DSLRs, I just don’t want to see anymore motivational stuff with text overlay, I don’t want to see any notes or screen shots, I don’t want to see pictures people should have posted on their facebook account. I don’t care how it gets to me, as long as it’s beautiful and enjoyable to look at.

    1. i agree with that i hate pictures with text and screen shots etc. im not really caring either but normal pictures with dslr i can see okay but not manipulated pictues in hours of photoshopping i feel its a little much.

  10. Well, I have to say I agree with the points made in your post, even if I do not share your vision of what Instagram is about (better said: of what I want it to be for me). I am totally new to it, and came here (to your post) to find a way to publish my photos later – as oposed to instantly. I use it on an iPod Touch so I take photos offline. And I have been using Hipstamatic quite happily, posting the photos when I get home, and conect to my home WiFi. When I started using Instagram, it seemed like there was no way to publish the photos latter – now I know that I just need to press “finish” and the photo will be there to publish when I am connected.

    Maybe the use I want of Instagram totally defeats the concept of it (starting by the name of the App). But I do not worry that every shot is not published immediately, only a couple of hours latter. The App seems to be, so far, brilliant, even if I don’t publish what I shoot instantly.

    I agree, however, that it would be a shame if the App and its social aspects are overtaken by professional interests, when, like you said, there are already good choices for those who seek a place to display their professional work. I guess that when a social feature becomes popular, soon a lot of people try to milk it commercially.

    These are still my first moments, and I am far from seeing anything that makes me disappointed, and also I am not very social. I just like the App, the quickness of it, the usability of it, and how easily I can create a feed and a timeline.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts as a more experienced user,
    nuno.

  11. I am not a pro photographer or even a seasoned hobbyist. In fact, one of the reasons I got into photography was because of Instagram. SLR or iPhone, it doesn’t matter. Taking pictures of your life and your experiences is what matters and expressing it in a creative way is great. The cool thing is you get followers and you follow people so you can see their stories and their creativity at work instantly. You also share your creativity and your story through your pictures. The great thing about instagram is that you can instantly see the feed of your friends and people you are following. You can comment, like, and interact with them instantly. I really don’t care if you use a professional Cannon or an iPhone, if I like it , well then, I like it….its really that simple. There is no rules or codes that should guide how its run. I follow the people that I think post great photos and creative photos and that is that. If I don’t like your photos, I won’t follow you.

    Furthermore, one the reasons I can’t stand facebook is that I realized daily life is not that great. I don’t want to see pictures of your food, your drink, or what ever else mundane thing daily life has in store. I want to see your pics that show creativity and gives me a visceral reaction. If you can turn the mundane into that, then great. However, if you also want to show me great pictures of the Sierra Valley in California or pictures from your trip in Cape Town, then great as well. Again, I don’t care if its with an SLR or an iPhone…..I just want to see some damn cool pics that inspires creativity or awe.

  12. When pros questioned whether or not Instagram was real photography, Instagram users told them to relax and get over it. Now they are posting real photos to Instagram and you don’t like that either??

    Relax.

  13. I use #iphoneonly photos for instagram but I use a different app to take the pics and other apps to edit them – rarely do I actually use instagram’s camera. If I play with editing an older photo and post it to my instagram stream, and it would be out of sequence in the events of my life, I tag it #latergram. That doesn’t mean I used a dslr. I’m confused on the use of the hashtag #latergram. Does it mean DLSR only?

  14. fuck you. you don’t get to make up bullshit fake ass rules because you have too much time on your hands. digital RUINED photography, it absolutely devastated hard working photograper’s careers you simple minded fuck. if photographers want to use it to their advantage and post images, sometimes actual FILM scans that they worked HOURS on correcting, they absolutely can. what in the living hell does wanting to be famous have to do with it? what does kim kardashian have to do with it?? that’s YOUR issue my friend, get over it. stupid fucking Internet police, go out and find something to keep you way too busy to give a shit about what other people do.

    1. A little harsh but it’s true. Where the heck does natebenson get off saying this? Futhermore why does this argument apply only to instagram, and not to twitter, facebook, youtube, or even ebay? All of which started with small user bases of individuals, and then got flooded with corporate accounts once big companies realized they were viable platforms. At least with pro photographers they are often (if not almost always) individual people. Why is it ok for Walmart to be on facebook but not Frank’s Wedding Photos or Jack’s Artpics on instagram?

  15. I appreciate where you’re coming from on this, but to me and image is an image. I just use whatever makes sense at the time and shoot. Sometimes it’s a phone, sometimes it’s a dedicated camera. I’m in the process of starting up an Instagram account for my enterprise, and fully intend to upload iOS images, SLR images, video frame grabs, and whatever else I have that’s good. To me, crappy images, or things that aren’t actually images are the bigger problem.

  16. I don’t have an iphone (or a mobile with the internet), but I have a dslr. I love looking at both on the go photos and ones with more effort and skill. Each to their own.

  17. You’re absolutely spot on! Couldn’t agree more! This is supposed to be fun not for portfolio reviews ! Keep writing…your good at it!

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