When I first learned about Instagram, the photo-filter app that makes all your pictures look like an indie album cover or old Polaroid, I was not impressed. As someone with a fairly intimate relationship with Photoshop, my first thought was “What’s the point?” And I wondered why anyone would be interested in taking photos that looked painfully pretentious, like “I AM…TRYING SO…HARD…TO BE RETRO-CHIC.” But, you know how this ends: I’ve never met a gadget or app I could resist, so…I downloaded it.
But here’s the thing: Instagram is fun. And it’s easy. And it’s egalitarian. It’s an art form that invites everyone to play. And occasionally that play turns into something seriously beautiful and resonant.
Sure, I could recreate its filter effects in Photoshop, but it would take minutes, if not hours, of tinkering. Instagram is, well, instant gratification.
And the fun thing about the app is that its truly transformative (not a word, I know, but stay with me). You can take a photo that’s remarkably unremarkable, crop it and add a filter/blur/frame and turn it into something cool and interesting to look at. In a matter of seconds. That’s addictive.
Finally, like all great art forms, it makes you look at the world differently. I looked at the world with the eyes of a fantasy artist when I started taking my manipulations seriously. But in the past couple of days, I’ve been “Instagramming” everything, wondering if a particular vignette or pose or moment would be suited to its claustrophobic, hipster-retro look. There’s definitely a trick to taking an Instagram-worthy photo. I plan on blogging about it soon, so stay tuned.
Long story short, I’m hooked. Perhaps you should get hooked, too.