It’s high time we had a talk. No, no, don’t speak… I need to get this out and it’s been a long time brewing. So, please just let me say this and I think we will all be stronger for it in the end.
I’ve tried to break this ice so many times over the last year, small jokes and jabs at your predominance to produce sheep in the rising masses of amateur mobile-photogs, while encouraging the herders (those in the 50K+ group) to continue to shoot with as little creativity as their flocks, especially of late. I cite #hangintough, #jumpstagram, #fromwhereistand, and many other tags that have people with high number counts flooding my feeds with some absurd attempt at buffoonery… all in hopes of getting a feature. Oh! and the WHP situation, which we will get to further in.
photo credits: @hearteheart, @dichillo7, @wernerjohn, @awthebaker, @melissamango, @begogle. I think all of these are great shots and no knock on the photogs, I give a thumbs up to everyone getting out there.
You know what would be super rad… if one more person took a photo of the exact same angle of that old Williamsburg Bridge – where you enter human and leave Hipster… Also, can we have some more shots of people jumping, just jumping?
photo credits: @ryanmalone101, @jay_fin, @tom_parry, @angelb33 (all of these are great shots and solid igers. I’ve checked out the feed of all of them and more.)
Or hanging slack-armed, or staring down at their shoes, or their clothing arranged in an orderly fashion on the bed, or showing off prints of their images seemingly haphazardly strewn across their bedspread or hardwood floor? People covered in colored powder? What about more Ferris wheels, oh yes, please! And I’m not even touching the nail close ups, in-mirror-abs shots reminiscent of Myspace days, the angular pout and all that one-directional crap… I’m keeping this argument focused on the high-end, serious IG user.
photo credits: @shawnpmaguire, @bittburg, @quake18, @mineeferg1, @nylorac, @nycfstop - BTW, I think all of these are great shots. Just showing a point.
Let’s also discuss the New York #phootbooth Brat Pack that you are not only creating, but encouraging… no, emphasizing (mostly because I already used encouraging earlier ;) A group whose photography skills are wonderful and we aspire to photograph light as they do, but who seem to spend the majority of their energy of late posting photos of just each other, and with multiple-to-hundreds-of-thousands of followers… EACH.
photo credit: goes to @pketron – some great photos here, but also demonstrating a point.
Their feeds transforming into ginormous blowhard shoutouts—tagging each other, lined up in groups against a brick wall, at the end of a tunnel, no face showing, staring out into the distance at the base of that damnable Williamsburg bridge, ahhhhhh!!! (It’s all coming full circle.)
(and although I give it crap, I have seen some creative looks at this W-burg bridge, check these by @gcarollo85, @victor_michael, and @likapejo)
I used to follow these people to catch their awesome images and seek ways to aspire to shoot more like them, but now I’m unfollowing because I’m not here to bolster some sense of self importance for a group of hipsters who for the most part are successful on this particular medium due to a very obvious lack of responsibilities or commitments—nomading across the country, hopping around the streets of Tudor City (?), playing dress-up at camp in the woods—not having to worry about rent or work, but making sure to post the crap out of it so we can all see what fun they’re having, together. Isn’t that special (Church Lady channeled).
photo credits: @sgoralnick, @lauralemon, @moneal, @jungletimer - the infamous phootcamp of 2012. Each one got thousands of hits and most went onto the “Popular” page of IG.
Oh, one more thing in this Wayne’s World-esque rant of mine, if I see one more image of that damn Maddie standing on something… I mean there’s a freaking app for it now. Not joking! You can now add Maddie the dog to your own images, propped in precarious places, with the MaddieCam. A seemingly cute idea that was most unequivocally bastardized by commercialization. A sour taste rises every time I think about it.
(update/edit: I want to clarify here. I mean this not as a slam at Maddie or the intent and content of @thiswildidea. As a matter of fact, I think Theron’s one of the best igers out there actually doing something proactive with this follower base he has, I remember the first Maddie shot I ever saw in the support beam and it was great.)
photo credit: @thiswildidea, somewhat less wild now that an app allows you to add Maddie to anyone’s photos #maddiecam.
But, no this is not about mere follow-count envy or something so trite. It’s more to the point that you are creating a community for millions and have millions within those millions who try daily to participate and enjoy and get some modicum of notice. And yet you continue to incubate the same reused cast of characters, who – guess what – we’re already following because we saw them featured by you, once, twice, nay thrice over the last six months. I ask you, with 100 million (and growing) using, how is it you have this myopic Rolodex of a few thousand photographers in the featured section? (Great way to see this visualized, check a user on Statigram and look up a user with 50K+ followers and see how many yellow stars pop up in their feed, under their photos. A yellow star means that image was displayed on the Popular page.)
Of course, you don’t have all the time or space in the world to post everyone, and this is not always the case, but I hope you see where I’m heading.
Why don’t we start at the source of this proposed issue, the Suggested User section, where you help to perpetuate the increasing following of those already massly followed. For those of you “question-marking” at that reference, when you create an account on instagram, you are given a list of people who you might want to follow. Most, if not all, boast many tens of thousands of followers already. Thing is, those people will be found out eventually by new followers anyway because they pop up all the time on WHP features, Sunday features, other iger accounts that literally just feature other igers, and more. They’re kinda hard to miss; I don’t think they need your help. Why not instead ask what people are interested in: bikes, street art, B&W, portraits, landscapes, typography… who knows, but that was pretty easy to drum up in six seconds. Ask them and then recommend a list of users based on those selections.
photo credit: @joshjohnson - creating a community of igers loving on other igers.
Maybe let’s try to be a bit more like the #JJ’s of the world. The @JoshJohnson crew has carefully crafted a multilevel appreciation / sharing community, still with some flaws and featu(re)gurgitation (new squishword), granted. But it thoroughly strives to forge a community effort out of the endeavor, promoting the 1-2-3 rule. For every 1 photo you submit, you must comment on 2 others’ submissions, and like another 3. Simple, and it encourages appreciation of others’ works rather than throwing something in the pile and not sticking around to appreciate what someone else has thrown in, as well.
photo credit: @instagram - still love ya.
So in closing, I guess what I have to say is just this, “You’ve already defined a style, a generation, a way of life for some. Please stop promoting the spread of innocuous mobile photography. Please take your rampant influence and use it as a more objective and open forum for those who choose to take time out of their lives and stop by to see you. Please, just be more.”
Sincerely, loyal friend and iger since April 1, 2011,
- in addendum, let’s give a shout out to all of those fads that we can’t seem to escape (self included) on instagram: