Has the popularity of Instagram changed the way we look at the art of photography, an art form that stretches back many centuries? Kolachi asks some young and established photographers for their take on the new application
By A Abbas
“I do use Instagram. It’s wonderful,” says Iqra Shoukat, a freelance photographer whose portfolio ranges from the Pakistan Fashion Week and product photography for Imagine Ex, a creative advertising company. “I believe applications like Instagram will not hinder arts and photography. Sometimes you see something beautiful and you just want to take a picture and with apps like Instagram everyone can appreciate picture-worthy sights and moments. And why put boundaries on art? I think people using Instagram are actually open and critical about what constitutes a good picture.”
Though not an Instagram user, Vernin Uchong, owner of the Facebook page, Vernin Uchong Photography is also open to the idea of Instagram. “It is a fun and easy-to-use little app for photographers of all levels. It keeps people clicking retouching and sharing special moments on the go. I do not think apps like Instagram will detract people from taking a good picture. In fact, they will get more people interested in the art of photography enabling them to experiment by observing others work.
“If you don’t have the skill then neither the best SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera nor any amount of filters will make your pictures look good,” opines Essa Malik, a publication designer at the Express Tribune. “I do not think Instagram brings down the quality of the art of photography. As with any good photograph, composition and lighting are important and this goes for Instagram as well. Adding filters to a bad picture will only marginally improve it.”
Sobia Rahman, a budding photographer whose work has been featured in You and Glamstop Magazine, believes that the art of photography goes beyond applications like Instagram. “The art of taking a good picture was never with software or a good camera; it is in the heart of the photographer,” she told Kolachi. “I never take new technology as a threat, the better the software or camera the better the photo. As a photographer, I wouldn’t be true to myself if I say that these applications are bad – that will mean being rigid to change and keep me from accepting something new and that is not an attitude to take. People who say such applications are like cheating do not actually have a problem with the application or software. They are actually insecure about their own talent. The question a photographer has to ask oneself is do they love photography or do they love their own photography. It is an ongoing battle; a few years ago it was Picasa versus Adobe now it’s Adobe versus Instagram, or old film cameras versus digital SLR cameras. As a photographer, anything that improves a badly taken photo has got my vote.”
So for many photographers, Instagram has got a positive vote. On the other hand, there are those who belive that Instagram does not constitute ‘high art’. “I believe Instagram is presumptuous kitsch,” says Zuhair Abbas Merchant, an avid photographer. “I prefer using photo editing software to make a photo look good, not layering filter upon filter on a smartphone photo. It gives all your pictures the same look and after a while it gets repetitious, it seems as if you are viewing them through a jar of purple jelly. Using Instagram will not make you a photographer overnight.”
Sharing pictures and a new medium to do so are the attractive features to a new crop of photographers and smartphone users who are seeing enormous potential in this application. Though some say that they will not make you a photographer, maybe the point is to share those special moments and have fun whilst doing so.