The invitation to try out Instagram came from a friend that I have done extensive photography with in the past. At that point I wasn’t too familiar with Instagram as a social media service. I knew it was owned by Facebook and that it only let you post images in square format and from your phone. Since most of my images are (or were) 3:2 aspect ratio and posted from a computer, it didn’t seem like something I’d use. Besides, I had Flickr. Instagram seemed, well, cheap, and dare I say it, below me.
So I ignored it until recently when it was pitched to me as something I could use as more of a photographic equivalent of a sketchpad or daily journal. Well, okay, that sounded interesting. I took at look and thought, “yes, I can use this.” In fact, I got into the spirit of things and made the decision to confine myself to shooting for Instagram in the unfamiliar 1:1 square format that I’ve never really used much before now. Might as well wander off the beaten path, right?
I started posting to Instagram, found a few photographers to connect to, and life was good. Then I discovered: The Influencers.
Sure, I’d heard about them, but had never actually interacted with them until now. I’m guessing there are some on Twitter, but I’ve been lucky so far. Most of the people on Twitter mainly seem to be interested in fighting with each other. Influencers want you to follow them, their motivations being profit and/or prestige. They seem to fall into three main categories: Africans, Middle Eastern folks, and teen girls (I’m sure there are annoying teen boy influencers as well, but I haven’t had to block one yet).
The Africans want you to like/buy their stuff and if you could send them some money… The Middle Eastern ones are weird. They have the same two or three pictures of themselves cut out of the original background that they stamp all over random pictures. Funny and sad. They’ll like one of your images and then immediately demand you follow and like them in a comment. The teen girls keep posting selfies of themselves with, “hope you’re having an awesome day” or something else completely unprofound, yet supposedly inspirational. Sorry kid, but you need more than a duck lip selfie and telling me to have a good day to get a follow and a like.
Block. Block. Block.
I’d share some of their pictures, but, copyright. Here’s a tree I walked past on my lunch break this afternoon instead:
The fact is that I’m really enjoying Instagram. It has given me a reason to go out each day to shoot new images in new ways and I’m slowly finding new people there to share them with. In turn these photographers are showing me their take on the world and providing me with inspiration as I view their images. That this community is worldwide and free is mind-blowing. I love it. It’s just that I’ve suddenly been swamped by influencers in my comments and follows.
I’m hoping the signal-to-noise ratio will improve as I learn to deal with and block the worst of the non-photographer “influencers” who seem intent on using Instagram for personal gain rather than personal growth.