Is Instagram Killing Photography?

Instagram is far and away my favorite social media site. I browse it constantly, never wanting to miss a single photo that gets uploaded, always trying to see what is going on in the world around me.

I love that with the addition of a simple filter, Instagram gives anyone the ability to turn an ordinary photo into something extraordinary. But by giving everyone the ability to put up professional quality photos, is Instagram killing the art of professional photography?

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Some, like Kate Bevan of The Guardian, argue that Instagram is doing nothing more than spoiling natural photography through its overused filters that make all photos look the same. She thinks that Instagram requires no talent, meaning the art of being a true photographer is being devalued.

I, for one, disagree.

Instagram is a social medium that, yes, allows anyone to be a “professional” photographer, but I argue that it also gives a great deal of exposure to true professional photographers. How often do you see a photo in a newspaper or magazine with minuscule text citing the photo’s source? Always. But, from there, how often do you look online to find more photographs by this photographer? For me, the answer is never.

That’s where Instagram comes in. When news sources or television networks post photos, they note who took these photos by linking the photographer’s Instagram page to the picture’s caption. From there, Instagram users can follow the photographer’s profile to view more works done by the photographer, and to continuously see the photographer’s photos in his or her feed.

Let’s look closer at National Geographic’s Instagram feed (@natgeo), as an example. National Geographic constantly posts photos of exotic animals and picturesque landscapes from a variety of its photographers. Here’s an amazing shot of a Cape Fur Seal from Thomas Peschak (@thomaspeschak) while he was on assignment in South Africa.

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The photo posted by @natgeo is linked to Thomas Peschak’s account, and immediately this photographer gains a great deal of exposure from National Geographic’s nearly 4 million Instagram followers. Thomas Peschak himself has nearly 30,000 followers.

So while some say Instagram is killing the art of photography, I say that it is doing quite the opposite. I think the app is making people more aware of the beauty in the world around them and putting them more in tune with their own photography skills. Not only is it turning each of its users into a photographer, it is connecting these amateur photographers to professionals, on a more personal level. 

Instagram is not killing photography, oh no, it is reviving it and making photography a hobby, a passion, for its over 150 million users. Photography is not dead, it is merely evolving and becoming more accessible to the masses.

Looking to follow some photographers on Instagram? Check out Paste Magazine‘s list of 30 Instagram Photographers to Follow Now.

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