When Instagram was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in 2010, the founders had no idea the app would be used by over 800 million people in just 7 years.
It had tapped into something that was just right for the time. Instagram gave us the ability to share photos quickly and eventually add locations and captions-helping connect artists and spread the work of photographers who would otherwise go unknown.
However, 7 years later it’s value proposition seems less necessary and more like shouting into a void of endless advertisements. This was not an overnight change and many users could see it coming from miles away.
Something that we didn’t see coming was how an app that started as a creative outlet for new ideas and interesting concepts would change the entire photo industry as a whole-now hitting a point in which otherwise great artists just follow each other around, taking the same shots in the same locations that have brought another account success.
It’s beginning to homogenize the photography industry. Think about it. How many photos have you created because you were trying to be more like another artist on the platform, or because you were trying to replicate their success?
How many times have you based the value that is inherent in your photo on the number of likes, comments or engagement on your post?
How is Instagram shaping your photographic growth?
You see, Instagram has gotten to the point in which it's quite possibly making you less creative.
Why does anyone photograph anything?
Is it for self glorification?
Is it because we see a bit of ourselves in each photograph?
Is it because it deserves awareness?
Is it because we want to remember our life as it passes?
Lately, I've realized that I’m letting a like dictate my photographic growth and stylistic trajectory. In that, I’m chasing a ghost.
Which brings us to the question;
What is good art?
If "good" is based on the number of likes by people who, on the same platform, put naked selfies and fraternity brothers doing keg stands on a pedestal, then I’m not sure I want to be good. In that case, I just want to be different.
What I’ve realized is that the decision to press that button is completely unique to the individual. There is no one, not your friends, not your parents, not Steve McCurry, and sure-as-shit not Instagram-that can dictate, or has ownership over which moment is more valuable than another.
A photos value is entirely relative to it’s author. If you close your eyes at night and are pleased with the work you’ve created, then that is reason enough to wake up and do it again tomorrow. If you’re not pleased, even better.
Whatever the case, let the decision rest on no one but you.