I seem to go through phases with Instagram. A love/hate thing. Some weeks it’s fun, engaging, my little tribe posting creative shots and sharing ideas. Other weeks it’s annoying, corporate, branded shots, self-promotion.
I’m sure it’s me rather than those I follow. Mostly. (Although one very good street photographer has apparently just decided that sharing an ad for skincare would be a good idea). Or maybe it's Instagram messing with my head with another new algorithm.
My worry though is whether it’s helping or hindering our photography. It’s giving constant feedback of a sort, assuming we choose to look at the likes and comments. But it’s pretty much only positive, regardless of the quality of the image. A few generic words and emoji. And probably self-motivated. Look at a popular account and you see the comments that are only seeking attention, or straight out asking for it. And of course there’s the whole follow-for-follow brigade. Even other popular accounts and 'influencers' are constantly praising each other's images.
Think of a portfolio critique with an established master of their craft. Watch one online. It's often harsh, but usually fair and detailed and what we need to hear. Insight and wisdom based on experience. But now we're listening more to likes and emoji instead.
Where do we look first, when we open the Instagram app? To see what others have shared? Or look at how many likes and new followers our last post garnered?
It's not all bad. There are some great photographers on Instagram that don't resort to using fairy lights or heavy processing. It’s still possible for it to be a great tool for connection and inspiration. There are still useful comments and connections and communities being built. It's still an amazing opportunity to have your work seen. But there’s plenty that needs to be ignored and good quality feedback and assessment of our images is only going to come elsewhere.