Instagram doesn’t make you an artist

Erik Ramirez, Photographer

Everybody with an iPhone who take pictures of cats and scribble like a kindergartener can now be a photographer and make beautiful art pieces. Instagram is the culprit and it’s making it easier than ever to ruin pictures.

As an Oak Leaf photographer I know that taking photographs is one of the best ways to capture those fleeting moments in life and express them visually. It’s a means of expressing emotions visually and takings feelings and locking them inside a time capsule. Most people have become too lazy to reach for a traditional camera or even carry one but with Instagram people have gone picture crazy.

There’s something disheartening about photography and how it is today. Taking an image that has no qualities and thought put into it and then throwing filters on it to make it artwork is not photography. With Instagram, there has been a plethora of meaningless crap floating around the web all with familiar filters in the mix. I hardly go a day without seeing people’s trendy cats boasted around Facebook or what people had for lunch on twitter. It’s as if Instagram has given each user the right to share each and every waking moment with the world because the pictures are so awesome… and have filters. The saddest part is the sight of fellow photographers putting down their DSLR cameras, and opting for iPhones.

Back in the day photographers would add their personality by controlling every aspect of their image, the choice of film, developing methods, burning and dodging areas to enhance the overall attitude of the picture. Try asking someone taking a picture with their cell phone what shutter speed or aperture are.
Instagram and similar apps such as Hipstamatic dumb down the process so any average Joe can take a picture and modify it in such way that it draws your eye away from how bad the picture is and onto the wild and crazy colors that kindergarteners often use when finger painting. They make the picture a little fuzzy, so we have to squint to see what is what and then add some tags like #SWAG, #Y0L0, and #TRENDY so friends and fans can find their new artwork.

In the future once all the Instagrams filters are out of style, the new wave of pictures will feature, “sharp” and “clear” filters so people can actually see what it is you are taking a picture of and actually acknowledge the subject matter. What a concept, right? In modern photography most artist use programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom to correct visual aspects like levels, exposure and saturation. In combination what there often left with is a balanced and very crisp image that reflects the efforts and style the photographer. Instagram does the opposite.

To its benefit Instagram has made people aware that most modern cell phones and point and shoots are capable of taking amazing pictures and video. Instagram has brought people to make a point of taking pictures of the little accomplishments, like kids going down the slide for the first time or a dog getting its head stuck in the window. All the things that people would be too lazy to capture with a normal camera.

I think everybody at one point in their life should try and learn some elements of photography whether it be shooting a manual camera or just learning to frame a shot better. There are lots of skills people can learn quite easily and make the most out of whatever they use to shoot, whether it be a cell phone, film camera or DSLR. But whatever you do leave the terrible filters and colors where they belong in the trash bin.

“The best camera is the one you have with you,” – Chase Jarvis, American photographer. So to all you Instagramers, delete the app, start shooting things that mean something and be proud of the images you produce so you don’t have to cover them up with horrendous filters.