By: Diana Murphy
The popular smartphone application Instagram has drastically changed the way we look at photography, and further, our world. The photo-worthy moments we share with our followers serve as an important function in cultivating the photographic artistic eye. The Instagram photos we choose to share can be seen as our own personal documentation of important moments, aesthetic experiences and perhaps even just your last meal. Looking at someone else’s world through their Instagram account is most often not a clear representation of a person’s life, because as in most art forms, reality is abstracted. The intertwining of reality and how we present it in both Instagram and professional photography has changed the way we look at the art of professional photography. It is both groundbreaking and challenging to the art form.
Picture this (pun intended): You go to an expensive, popular restaurant in your area. As you sit at your table you salivate over the plates that servers bring past you and gaze longingly at the food being delivered to other tables. It almost makes you think perhaps that you shouldn’t have skipped lunch because the hunger is nearly engulfing you from the inside out. Finally your server brings out your artfully prepared meal, you thank the lord your prayers have been answered just in time for you to pull out you phone and take a picture of your plate?
Instagram has allowed people to start noticing the art in their everyday life. It has allowed for us to share the artful moments in our lives with others. Clearly, making people focus on beautiful moments in their lives and how to share them is a positive takeaway from Instagram. (But hurry up and eat your food already!)
Not only has Instagram changed the way we dine, dessert and approach a sunset, but it has also changed the way people view professional photography. Instagram has turned everyone with a smartphone into an artist. Opening up art to the general community is an incredibly groundbreaking aspect of this application. Making artistic endeavors accessible for everyone to discover their artistic talents and explore creatively is something that has made people find the beauty in the everyday. However, this accessibility has also created questioning around art and respect deserved by professional photography.
There is a noticeable quality difference between photos taken on a DSLR camera and an iPhone, but as technology advances, the gap in quality is getting smaller and smaller. The art in a professional photograph versus an Instagram can sometimes be hard to notice at quick glance. Photographs taken by true professional photographers hold dynamic intricacies that Instagram’s cannot match in terms of photographic quality, or advanced compositional knowledge utilized by professional photographers.
This is not to say Instagram is per se a lesser art. Aesthetic qualities of art are a personal matter and how good an artwork is depends on personal preferences, experiences and affinities. Good is a very arbitrary term in the art world. For example, I may find one photo more aesthetically pleasing than another, but not everyone has to agree with me.
The point I am trying to make is that professional photography should not be lost, but instead approached with a new, enhanced level of respect and admiration — despite how accessible, common and fun Instagram now makes the taking and sharing of photos.