How Instagram helps inform my photo decisions

Note: Date on embedded Instagram post is a typo —  I’m not that old! Amended with a comment on the post. Should be 1986.

I’ve been using Instagram for 10 months now, overcoming my prejudice that it was simply a repository for teenage selfies.

Boy, was I wrong … mostly.

Instead, I’ve found the photo-sharing ap to be a window into an exciting world of creativity, social encouragement, and inspiration.

Sure, much like Twitter in its early days, there’s the annoying spam, like the “friendly” Russian girls inviting one to “Come see my other pictures” (which Instagram technicians seem to have largely squashed recently, along with a much-commented-upon purge of bot accounts) and, certainly, there’s a degree of “like” pandering that’s not much different than the aforementioned trade.

Nonetheless, even with a modest following of 167 fellow snapshot sharers, at this writing, I’m able to draw from the responses to my pictures a sense of what images work, what don’t, and which ones probably suck big time.

The deductions are not entirely scientific, of course. My posting times vary (I should work on that), as do hashtags. These alone can have a great effect on the number of responses. But I’m confident, by comparing real world feedback, that there’s a great deal of correlation. As an example, the Wooden Roller Coaster image above is my most “famous” image, having won awards and induction into various collections, so it’s not surprising that it has received similar acceptance on Instagram.

What’s surprising is the relative popularity of my whole Eighties Vancouver portfolio, and my black and white work in general. There are many photographers in the community who are dedicated not only to monochrome imagery, but to film as well. Hence the popularity of hashtags such as #bnw and #filmisnotdead.

I’m glad I overcame my preconceptions and joined this popular social media site. It’s great fun, and it offers a kind of instant critique of my work, formerly had only after prints were submitted to a contest or hung on a gallery wall.

My decisions on what to publish in the galleries on this site are influenced to some extent by the reaction — or lack thereof — to my photographs on Instagram.

From my perspective, I’m constantly humbled by the extraordinary visual art I see there — made with old film cameras, the latest mega-megapixel DSLRs, to the humble smartphone.

I occasionally surprise myself with a decent photo from my iPhone.

Do you use Instagram? What’s your experience? And don’t forget to follow my account 🙂

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Raymond Parker Photo
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