Liking and loathing and the changing world of Instagram
To be fair to Facebook, the changes to Instagram have happened pretty slowly since they took over. First there were sponsored posts, then the timeline algorithms and now a new look and logo.
I still like Instagram a lot. It's fun and easy to use. Sure there's plenty of junk on there. Spam accounts, and the pointless 'follow-for-follow'ers. But it's easy to avoid unless you're overly concerned with the numbers.
I try to keep the number of accounts that I follow to an amount that I can enjoy viewing and not feel like I'm missing much. At least I assume I see most of what is being posted, depending on the whims of the new algorithms on deciding what appears where. It doesn't seem as bad as Facebook itself, where I now seem to see a few posts repeatedly at the top of my feed, even over a few days.
I can live with an occasional 'sponsored message'. I know that some of the more popular accounts that I follow are likely to be taking advantage of their popularity to gain a little income or free hotel stays. The promise was that they should still be in-keeping with the Instagram aesthetic, but they're usually obvious.
Small steps, each making the platform slightly worse. I do like the new visual re-design within the app though. I like the simple white background that we've seen on the Android version for a while, and the simple, clean icons on iOS look great. The new logo? Not so sure about that. The old one was such a classic icon, but I'm sure we'll get used to the new tie-dye version soon enough.
The thing is though, the strength of community still far outweighs the downsides from some of the changes. Whenever I've been to an organised meet, they've been fun and full of enthusiastic photographers regardless of equipment (although most do seem to be using decent cameras rather than phones). There are some great photographers and great images on Instagram. The Magnum agency posts regularly from it's archives, Steve McCurry is there, and Zack Arias, Joe McNally and Peter Turnley. Beautiful portraits, vivid photojournalism, inventive mobile art. Below are a few of my particular favorites at the moment. I'll let their images speak for themselves:
Different styles, but consistently strong and inspiring images. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Flickr and 500px are very good and each offer specific benefits, but, to me, Instagram has always been more fun. If you're on there and we're not connected yet, come and say hello: