I’m willing to bet that none of you saw this coming. I haven’t lost it, and I’m not about to touch any filters with a long, long barge pole, but there is method behind the madness. If you’re on instagram already, I’m here or @mingthein.
Conversely, if you’ve come here for the first time from Instagram, you’ll need to know a few things: I’m against filters, I care about the last nth degree of image quality, and I take my photography very, very seriously.
I’m still against filters. I still believe they outsource a good chunk of creativity to the person writing the software. It’s like sending your film off to a lab and expecting the random man who does the developing (if you’re lucky enough to get a man and not a machine) to know what you intended for the final image; Ansel Adams never sent his film to the local minilab for a reason. For that same reason, I’ll never use a preset filter – nor will I make one. You simply cannot apply a one-size-fits-all bunch of settings to every image and expect them to work.
However, instagram as a social platform is a different story. I admit to great stubbornness in the past on this, but two things also occur to me: firstly, that many people can’t be wrong, and since there are no absolutes in the image making business, there’s probably something right going on there. (It still doesn’t mean I have to use filters.) Content is more immediate and easily consumable platform than an extended article on the main site. Secondly, that many people are an opportunity to educate a bit, raise the standards, and maybe get some of them to take this whole photography thing a bit more seriously – I’m sure there are many camera phone users who enjoy the process but aren’t very happy with what they’re producing, but don’t know why.
Interstingly, instagram is one of the very few photographic channels where the equipment doesn’t really play into it; there actually seems to be very little gear obsession and an overwhelming focus on the images.
I have very clear objectives for the use of instagram as opposed to twitter/facebook/flickr/the site; I think without a solid strategy to your social media, you’ll just land up either wasting time duplicating efforts or not using the platform effectively. I plan to use instagram for two things: firstly, to post single images that don’t fit anywhere else – those of you following my flickr stream will know that I upload structured sets of 5-10 images at a time, there is continuity, there are ordered sets, and the account serves as a host for the curated images shown on the main site. Facebook and twitter are poor platforms for image uploads, partially due to compression and partially due to the display format. But both have a decent following, so I’ll post an image there from time to time. The site is the serious beast, and I’m sure that much is clear: it is a place for structured discourse, researched articles and deeper thoughts.
In the early days, I used to do a photo of the day post – I stopped because it was competing for attention with my regular content. Think of instagram as reprising that – it is for me to post single images (unfortunately only those which fit within the square format, so I suppose the Hasselblad will have to see more action) that work in small output sizes – things like Forest II will never be uploaded there – they simply don’t make sense at anything less than an Ultraprint as the final display medium, let alone 500 pixels square.
Beyond that, it’s an interesting opportunity to post experimental work that doesn’t really belong in a series or fit with the rest of the site; I think of it as a laboratory of sorts. Hopefully it will also expand the audience of the site at the same time.
If you’re already on instagram, you can follow me @mingthein or here
In the meantime, I’m going to get my raincoat and umbrella and brace myself for the comment onslaught to follow…MT
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