Is Instagram Ruining Photography?

Tree Silhouette in the Last Vestiges of Sunset

Some globally respected photographers and critics think Instagram destroys the integrity of quality images.

Others feel the rise of Instagram pollutes traditional social network streams.

Critics decry the mobile photo network because it filters most images with a vintage Poloroid look, the resulting widespread proliferation of Instaphotos across social networks, and/or the additional doctoring that occurs through a variety of apps like Snapseed and Camera+.

Overall, critics feel that consumer access to cheap imaging technologies makes the general state of photography stale, repetitive, and watered down.

For those that remember the rise of blogging, the argument sounds familiar.

Journalists decried blogs, saying the amateur writing style devalued the media and destroyed news as we know it. In that vein, Andrew Keen made his reputation with the now timeless rant embodied as the Cult of the Amateur.

The Washington Monument

In some ways, the widespread proliferation of amateur content does destroy professional and hobbyist works, whether they be photos or articles. Suddenly a Washington Monument photo becomes a common everyday occurrence.

That doesn’t mean we should throw out the baby with the bath water.

Instagram can be used to market good photography (which does stand out), popularize new ideas, market products and services (even sports leagues), and learn the basic fundamentals of how to take a picture.

I also have some disagreement with the poor level of work argument. Confusing most Instagram photos for real photographs is akin to comparing a long Facebook update to a Pulitzer prize winning book.

For more the vast majority of Instagram users, it’s about people sharing their lives, not engaging in photography as a profession or hobby.

To me that transcends the work of art because people are sharing experiences. While not all of the 80 million accounts are authentic, real social networking happens on Instagram.

What do you think? Is Instagram killing photography?