Lately, I’ve been talking with people a lot about Instagram. For those not already using the application, Facebook dropping a billion dollars to acquire it caused some pretty fast familiarity and many of my friends are jumping onto it.
The service is still in its infancy; it just passed the 30 million user mark in April. And of those 30 million I’m convinced a quarter are teenagers in Hollister t-shirts taking photos in the mirror for some reason, but whatever. If you can look past that it’s a pretty great application.
But one sticking point I’ve historically had with the site are the so-called “Instagram cheaters.”
Basically, despite the app’s origin as a way to share iPhone photos, some users use it as a photo-sharing service and take photos with high-end DSLR cameras, process them with cool filters and upload them to the site. For those wondering what I mean, check out the photo below, via Instagram user mustafaseven. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
These DSLR photos, looking amazing, often end up with a lot of “likes” and those users end up with a lot of “followers.” While some of us don’t care about those digital-era badges of honor, the issue does beg the question: Is there a right way to use Instagram?
This issue was taken up recently in a piece by Gizmodo’s Mat Honan (Twitter: @mat). A few months ago Mat summed Instagram’s appeal up pretty well in an article titled, “Cut It Out, Instagram Cheaters!” Mat writes:
“There is obviously no right way to Instagram. You use it for what you use it for. But certainly it’s a social network that tracks what’s going on now. When describing Instagram to friends who haven’t used it, I don’t talk about the filters, or the quality of the photos, I talk about how it lets me see what my friends are doing right now.”
Mat goes on to confront the stream’s users who upload photos they take with fancier cameras and erode the app’s very point.
Up until earlier today I agreed with Mat. I also didn’t like the DSLR contingent on Instagram, but I think I’ve changed my mind. Like any good social media application I think Instagram is simply evolving.
It should be a photo sharing service where users can upload to-the-minute updates or simply art, as user Mustafaseven and others do. The application is better for it and the rest of us are treated to incredible images taken by truly talented photographers.