Instagreat: Why Instagram Is Not Nearly as Useless and Stupid As You Think It Is

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.

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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.

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12 thoughts on “Instagreat: Why Instagram Is Not Nearly as Useless and Stupid As You Think It Is

  1. I finally got into Instagram when I found out a lot of train-graffiti “enthusiasts” were documenting their finds. I don’t look at it all the time, or take a lot of photos with it, but it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye, as they say.

  2. I’m a fan of saving time, but I’m also weird about wanting the original as is. The Instagram filters seem like a natural to me, but I’d be irked if I was taking a picture I hated in the first place.

    Which is why I am often irked.

  3. I never understood Instagram simply because the built-in camera/gallery app on my Android lets me crop and has at least three “vintage” filters (among a bunch of others) to play with.

    I just assumed everybody’s smartphone was like that and was like “WhyTF is Instagram such a big deal.”

    So now that I get it — yeah, that effect can be very cool. I’ll have to post moar photos to my blahg someday.

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