20 December 2012

Instagram Reflections

"I speak as a recovered digital photography addict. I more or less stopped taking photographs at all once I realised I was subscribing to a cheap self-deception about the originality, beauty and meaning of my tens of thousands of pictures. An enthusiasm has frozen into revulsion."
That is the animating impulse behind this essay by Jonathan Jones at The Guardian. I admit that I sometimes put photos or stolen images up here or on Facebook. But this is a blog partly about photography. And I rarely actually take photographs. So, I've avoided the pendulum swings Jones has experienced. But I also have not been tempted in the slightest by Instagram or similar photo-sharing sites. And that is the focus of the essay - prompted too by the report that the company planned to "monetize" (to take the euphemism de jour) the content subscribers have been uploading there. Jones, of course, is speaking from the perspective of amateurs. But here is the view from the ranks of professional photographers. Unsurprisingly, it differs; no doubt that is because different people will be using (and have used) this technology for different purposes. Just like photography more generally. It is not about the pile of pictures, online or in a shoebox in the closet. Photography is a technology for amplifying vision and imagination. Jones might find that notion therapeutic if he seeks to overcome his phobia.

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Blogger Stan B. said...

I was hoping this guy had a little bit more to say than just stating that he takes offense at suddenly discovering that his snaps are no better than those of anyone else.

20 December, 2012 14:46  
Blogger Walter Dufresne said...

One of the difficulties photographers face -- with apologies to Szarkowski -- is knowing the exact location of the edge of the diving board on any particular work day. Ignorance of photography's history and accomplishments is astonishingly easy, and that ignorance feeds an easy self-delusion about the merits of one's own work.

23 December, 2012 17:01  
Blogger Lillie Langtry said...

I'm pretty baffled by the attitude in Jones' article here, and for what it's worth, I have a PhD concerned with the uses of photography. And I enjoy taking family snaps, photos of my walks and - shock, horror - even sometimes of my food. I don't use Instagram because I don't have a smartphone, but otherwise I would. I know all the arguments about digital photography, its authenticity or lack thereof, and its relationship to memory. And I still don't get why it's somehow the intellectual done thing to turn your nose up at it. Photography has long been a social activity and digital photograph and photo-sharing is just an extension of this.

29 December, 2012 12:40  

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