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  • ANOTHER ARTICLE ABOUT FILTERS

    Inspiration:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/jul/19/instagram-debasing-real-photography?

    I don't think I have seen a single blog post or article that doesn't simply whinge and moan about "Instagram" and mobile photography. It's the moron's picnic, where the well intended but ineffective use of filters brings out the whinge based blog posts and news articles, and the mobile baby is thrown out with the filtered bath water.

    Do you really think because you know "photography", "better", than a few people that you know better than everyone? You're so securely superior that you forget how to look for something worth looking for. Hah, you're missing out, you're stuck in the past. Goodbye, suckers.

    The photographers and/or writers who attack mobile photography and Instagram often initially validate their opinion by expressing a love of photography. They then say, that they know how to share images without compromise. They convince themselves that their creative ideology ensures that their conclusions are sufficiently supported, or sometimes simply convince themselves of superiority based upon photographic medium or prior photographic history. There's no questions asked, just half baked conclusions.

    Not one article I've read either asks or answers: Where are the visionaries? The people who see the future and the potential? Who is out there spotting the pioneers? The cutting edge insightful and inspirational leaders of a new medium? I know that such people are not simply writing articles about filters and basic app functions. And they're definitely not the enthusiastic mobile photography lunatic fringe, where platitudes, words and suggested follower numbers somehow qualify you as a medium leader.

    So, next time you hear another complaint about mobile photography, that sounds the same as all the others, maybe you'll realise that Instagram filters aren't the only things that get repeatedly applied without significant purpose or effect.

    The prevailing attitude still being expressed here is "mobile photography is simply unconscious fun, with an element of randomized post processing using an retro-like filter". If this is you, I really need to know why do you continue to assume this definition? Are you really that easily convinced by the mass of "non-photographers" that you allow them to be the ones that define a medium?

    Why would you keep making these assumptions about the medium based upon a single type of user? This is exactly my point I made previously, that people decide that one example of the images created by the medium determine the nature of the entire medium. It's a failure in the current attitude in photography to cling to such a conclusion.

    I welcome alternate aesthetic preferences, but I've seen bad photography in every medium, and I didn't assume that it categorized the photographic medium. What's clear is that there is an inability among existing photographic circles to look for examples of mobile photography that are outside of mainstream press articles. There is also a complete misunderstanding of the nature of "mobile photography", and confusion as to where it becomes "mobile publishing".

    I know that some people already know, but many do not understand that Instagram is simply a mobile publishing platform. Instagram is not "photography" - that's akin to saying that stretched canvas prints, platinum prints or photo books are "photography" - they're essentially just how the images are displayed. The image size shared on Instagram is simply optimized for mobile viewing, while the original image file is capable of the larger resolution printing if desired. I've seen excellent quality images printed and exhibited from mobile phones.

    It seems to me that the mobile photography capabilities have easily surpassed the knowledge and attitudes of people, and their assumptions need to be challenged.


  • MINIMAL ON INSTAGRAM

    I'm really glad that people have connected via this post on my Instagram feed from Sunday. The purpose of the post was to discover great minimalist photographers on Instagram by crowdsourcing names within the app.

    With over 180 comments and plenty of great minimalist photographers suggested it's a great resource for all who were involved, so thanks to all those who contributed to the conversation! We all know that the popular page long since failed to serve photography, but Instagram can still be used as a source of photographic culture, you just have to seek it out.

    To get the right response a specific leading question is required, and by asking others to participate by suggesting who they admire creates a larger resource of names to consider, and also goodwill between participating photographers. 

    It’s best to connect people based upon like-minded photographic endeavours, rather than simply asking for “so, who do you like?”, and then drowning under the “follow for follow!” responses.

    It is useful to have a larger following to ensure that the specific conversation quickly builds momentum and spreads outside of your existing circle of interaction. Instagram is an app built for immediacy, and anything that is not on the top of the pile is easily forgotten.

    While going over the suggestions I received (and there many) I personally was really impressed by the work of the following users:

    (blog continues below)

    amaranths

    melrae66

    zerdzaiwitwora

    __miki__

    stuffcarlsees

    dankhole

    brockdavis

    livingpod

    I’m looking forward to spending some time checking out their feeds.

    Please have a look at some of the others who were suggested in the original comments, and answer the following question:

    What sort of minimalist photography do you like?

    After years of looking at mobile photography, I’ve realised that there are two divergent effects from the repetition of minimalistic images.  

    The majority of minimalist images on Instagram are of a certain stereotype which, when repeated, simply serves to reinforce the cliché. For example, the image of a single bird in flight over water is idealistic rather than insightfully minimalist. Then there’s the silhouetted figures against a sunset, figures jumping, people holding umbrellas or balloons, and that small lone figure in a landscape that seem to be almost everywhere. I know how images like this require skill, dedication and patience, but I've seen thousands like it over the last few years and I can no longer connect in any way, although I’m sure that I did - once upon a time.

    These idealistic images may usually be created with minimalist content and composition, but the sharing photographers are motivated by a significant mood, or emotion. This mood or emotion is usually explained within a single word or phrase that accompanies the posted image. These clichéd idealistic images are usually heavily reliant upon the word or phrase for clarification of the photographers reason for sharing.  The text is sometimes simply a crutch to the cliché image.

    This is mobile sharing and self-expression via imagery, and does not provide the best insightful, personal story-telling.  But, this idealistic imagery is a significant reason for the growth of mobile photography.  A large portion of Instagram users prefer the app as an emotional outlet, however, as more and more people add these idealised minimalistic images the repetition simply reinforces the cliché at the cost of the reality of the emotions that motivated the shooting and sharing.  The more I see these images repeated, the less I engage with the image or the reason behind it as one simply blurs with another. Ironically, I now have a minimalistic response.

    A while ago in a conversation with Nick Moir and Misho Baranovic we agreed certain images should be tagged “#likebait” because they would always gather likes on Instagram much faster than original and engaging photographic compositions. It has become a cheeky way of criticising each other’s images when they have strayed towards the popular cliché.  This criticism is important because on Instagram there are few reasons to avoid being unduly influenced by the number of likes as an indication of an images worth.  Instagram is like most social media apps, designed for clear affirmation and positive reinforcement, and #likebait is our reminder that photography isn’t just about the number of likes.

    I originally provided Brentsky as an example because his minimalist door series (check through his feed) is the opposite of these clichés. His repetition of images of various doors (usually focussed on the handle) are composed to let the varying colours, the wear and tear and environment of each door define the place. By repeating these door images, he subtly contrasts their individualism and also reveals the purpose of the door and the nature of the people who use it. Brent also names each place when sharing the door image, rather than tying the image to an abstract emotion or phrase. This is minimalist story-telling, and I would love to see more like it on Instagram.  

    Disclaimer: Opinions are my own, this is not criticism of anyone or any image. I've long since learnt that for every honest sentence shared on the internet, an apologetic sentence is required, despite never intending to need it. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing any responses.