2.1 billion of the worlds population own smartphones. That means 2.1 billion people have access to their own personal cameras. The ownership of cameras previous to smartphones had been seen as a token of wealth and knowledge. Being able to afford such expensive technologies set you apart from the crowd. If you took great photos, you were a great photographer. You had skills that the majority didn’t, you stood out.
But not anymore. You are now merely but a dot amongst a world of dots. Anyone with a smartphone now has access to a camera. And with apps like Instagram, we can now all feel like professional photographers. Documenting all of our life events and converting photos of cardboard coffee cups into works of art. We follow friends, acquaintances and celebrities, watching their every move (or upload even) with adoration and appreciation. But these photos aren’t completely real. They are half-truths and optimizations of life.
Like I mentioned above, something simple like grabbing a cup of coffee can be converted from an everyday event to an artistic affair. By adding a bit of HDR, vignette, tilt and shift and slapping a filter onto an aesthetically pleasing image, you can create an image of perfection, making our lives seem interesting and desirable. When in reality all it is is a shitty cardboard cup that costs approximately €0.07 to make embellished with a Starbucks coffee logo.
We all do it, the square 1080 by 1080 pixel frame allows us to hide things from the photo that we feel will devalue our personal image. You could post an image of a bedroom, that looks like a showroom designed by the best interior artist. But what the viewer doesn’t see is the messy unpainted and unfinished ensuite cropped out by the square frame.
Whats funny is that we believe what we see on Instagram to be real, and not as heavily manipulated as magazines. Probably because we know the photographers, we believe the images to be truths. Adriana Mariella from EliteDaily.com says, “we’re breeding a culture of people who are not only fascinated with looking, but are also permanently aware that they are being looked at”. I think this is a true statement of the contemporary digital culture we live in.
Instagram is changing the relationship between people and photography. “Photography can be considered a powerful tool for expressing feelings and for telling about important life events to a large number of people” [1.] Not only are we expressing our feelings and boasting about life events, we are hiding and manipulating our lives to create an image of ourselves to seem better and completely desirable.
- It is not just a picture: Revealing some user practices in Instagram http://homepages.dcc.ufmg.br/~luiz.correa/publications/laweb14.pdf
- How Instagram Is Affecting The Way We Perceive Ourselves And The World Around Us http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/x-pro-ii-valencia-instagram-choose-neither/614571/