There was a time when I called myself a “real” photographer. Mind you this was back in the day when I was a senior in high school and Photo-EDITOR of the high school newspaper. Yeah, I was that cool. I had taken a few semesters worth of photo classes because I had no interest in music classes and didn’t care for the crowd who took Team Games every semester. I could do it all: develop film, roll film up in the dark, adjust f-stops, play with the lights around my subject, and even use Photoshop CS3! There were some definite perks, photo classes were for the “cool” art kids, being photo-editor let me essentially get friends out of their fifth period classes for “interviews,” and I could even get into every event for free! It was the life. Then, for college planning based reasons, I put the camera away. My lovely Nikon D-80 just sat.
Looking back, I wasn’t the greatest photographer ever. Far from it actually-I mean I wasn’t bad but I wasn’t some prodigy. I just had a decent eye for what made a good photo and the knowledge of how to use my camera properly (i.e. manually). So like I said, camera went away. Then why, after all those years of relatively no photography, did Instagram rub me the wrong way when I first heard of it?
For a long time, I was super anti-hipster. Ironically, this almost increased my hipster-dom. I was told, “Eric, you’re kind of a hipster,” to which I balked. Then I realized I’m a barista, who has a radio show, and reads Hemingway for fun. I call them “hipster tendencies.” But yes, I’m off-track, Instagram.
When I first saw Instagram I couldn’t help but be a bit perturbed. It wasn’t REAL photography! It was point, click, and add a fun filter photography. Don’t get me started on the duck face selfies. Worst. Fad. Ever. My inner photographer, who had trained for semester after semesters, was insulted!
Then one summer day, after living with a film kid and my other roommate’s hipster girl friend I tried to get Instagram. Luckily, my iPhone 3 was stubborn and liked to shut down when I opened Instagram so I could only use it a few times. But once I got my iPhone 5, my Instagram feed grew exponentially.
Sure, call it hypocritical or ironic but the thing is, since I’ve started using it I’ve seen that Instagram has the potential to create some beautiful pictures. Mine are decent (@Ebakes7 if you want to follow) but some people like my roommate Conrad or friend Cummo can create some stunning, almost professional looking shots. How they do it, I’m not sure.
It makes me wonder though, is photography headed in this direction? Have cameras, and cell phones, advanced so far that there really isn’t a point to going out and buying a camera? Sure the Cannon 7D or Nikon 5100 put my iPhone to shame, but are programs like Instagram and Photosynth the death of the point and click camera? Will Ashton Kutcher FINALLY stop making those awful commercials?
Candid photography is my favorite medium for art because it allows you to create 10,000 stories in one moment of actual life. One twenty-fifth of a second of life and yet it can contain world history, the greatest moment of joy, or the saddest sorrows. It can even all be a lie, a trick played on the observer by the photographer. The subtlest change of light can set an entirely new tone to the photo. You have to know how to work every part of your camera inside and out. You can capture every wrinkle, tear, or freckle of someone’s face. You can even show someone who has never left Kansas, the beauty of middle of the galaxies light-years away. The limitless story telling potential of photography: that’s why it, whether through a Cannon 7D or Instagram, it is my favorite form of art.