It has swept through the country like a sepia-tinted epidemic.
Since its inception, legions of followers have downloaded Instagram and our social media sites have been inundated with quasi-artistic photos of our friends’ lives ever since.
But what is it about purposely making your high-quality photos look essentially unclear and spoiled that is so appealing? To truly understand the true reach of Instagram we must look the past.
Remember the kodak moment? It was a phrase coined by the photography company which helped propel them to unprecedented dominance in the photo industry.
Times have changed however and in Jan. 2012 they filed for bankruptcy. A month later they officially stopped production on cameras, instead focusing on software creation and home printers. A kodak camera, which was once the norm, will now be a relic of a former time — replaced by the social photography genre.
As evidenced by its highly-publicized purchase by Facebook, Instagram reigns as king.
Launched in Oct. 2010 with a modest 13 employees, it has since become a model of success for many Silicon Valley start-ups who are hoping to emulate the successful app’s meteoric rise.
The concept is simple enough, take a photo, apply a filter of your choice and voila! Suddenly there is a digitized version of those 1970 pictures your parents took on their now outdated cameras.
The app eventually became so popular it was listed as the “App of the Year” in 2011 Apple’s end of year awards.
What essentially makes Instagram so appealing is not only its inherent simplicity, but its appealing aesthetics. With Instagram, a regular photo of your latest meal can morph into a vivid culinary masterpiece…as long as you use the right filter. This makes the once mundane photograph a representation of something much deeper.
Timothy White, a recent Baruch College grad now working in Puerto Rico, recently downloaded the popular app. Though he was admittedly late to the party, he remembered what initially drew him to Instagram.
“I heard about it sometime last semester. I saw people post pictures with old vintagey vibes on Facebook and Twitter, and asked a friend about the camera he was using. Then he told me about Instagram.”
At it’s core, Instagram is no different from the sprawling photo albums of our parents’ youth. We have all been enamored with these photos from yesteryear — stained by the hands of time while still holding so many personal memories.
This is a far cry from current crop of digital photos which seem devoid of personality with no way to distinguish one from another. What Instragram does by allowing different filters is to give the user a chance to personalize the photo and add their own touch, thereby making the photograph something unique again.
It’s this uniqueness of the individual photograph that has made Instagram so popular. In the past, a picture was a one off. You couldn’t simply right click and copy — that picture was the only copy you had, therefore it meant a whole lot more.
While the Instagram photos are obviously shareable, it’s this aspect that the program harps on, the individuality, the solidarity of a photo, this is what has struck a chord with its massive fan base. One that now includes over 5 million Android users as well.
Subsequently, a user’s Instagram account becomes an amalgam of images which showcase their lives, the same way photo albums once did. It’s almost mysterious and enchanting, in an age where so much of that is lost.
For photo enthusiasts, there is a downside — only 18 filters are available. By comparison, the paid app Vignette boasts a whopping 76 effects. It seems however that 18 options are just enough to entice the public, whereas 76 just makes it too overbearing.
Fact remains while Instagram may be a fad, it looks like it will be around for a while.
Don’t be surprised if sometime in the future we are showing our kids photos on Instagram while they attempt to show us their new 3d photo app on the iPhone 27.
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