It's been a few months since I started on Instagram (@alexrumford). I wanted to share some of my experiences.
I still love it - and I'd like to think that my newly-rediscovered enthusiasm has fed into my regular work. I'm looking for images everywhere, all the time. I have tried to post a least once a week, even if it's something timely from my professional or personal archive. After all, the latter contains heaps of photos which would otherwise never have seen the light of day.
I love how everything is on the same platform: award-winning photos are followed by a throwaway shot of a coffee or the view from a hotel window. This is important - there's no pressure to categorise which images you're proud of, which are serious, and which you're merely posting as nothing more than a photo status update. And it's hard to tell the difference: everything is viewed on the same terms, and on its own merits. For myself, some pictures which I really like receive no attention, yet others which I put there to break up a quiet few days get likes.
I've noticed that I'm taking mostly abstracts and details. I'm not sure if this is to do with my own preferences - an abiding and personal interest in what I enjoy about photography (outside of the profession) - or because these shots tend to be, almost by definition, 'found' pictures, suited to the iPhone and a busy life going to different places. Often with just a few moments available to capture them, and without being powerful enough in themselves neither to warrant more than a couple of frames (nor, indeed, very much attention), they suit how many of us treat photography. Rarely do I shoot more than a few frames on my phone of a subject.
And this is interesting for me: one of my guiding principles is that photography ought to be a process and not an event, hence shooting a *lot* of frames in my professional work, and working around the subject.
With Instagram, I try to get to the nub of what I see as quickly and efficiently as I can. In equal parts I'm therefore always unsatisfied with my effort, but also under no pressure to produce anything of worth, or feel like I would. Not to say I don't try to get the shot right, but that (and equally because they're nearly all abstracts and details) it's often more about the feeling than any kind of deeply-considered or committed art, or anything else. If that makes sense.
The adjustments bring them to, and sometimes above, the reason for the photo. They emphasise what it is you meant to say. Again, as with spending time on the actual image, it follows that I then won't post a photo if I find I'm spending too much time messing about: adjustments aren't there to save a bad photo, and they won't. Although they can - and do - hide mediocrity and flaws below layers of contrast, saturation and clarity ("Structure"). It can be hard to tell, sometimes, and perhaps I'm partly guilty.
In my defence, I *never* use any of the named filters. I only use the adjustments, simply so I know what I'm doing. I usually have an idea beforehand of how I see something, and how I'd like it to look. I will (on occasion) go completely the other way, or play with various adjustments, just to see. But obviously most shots fall into a category, and require a specific approach. Anyway, I've noticed I tend to keep the photos fairly natural-looking. Perhaps I have to. Since my feed is dominated by abstracts, I can't have too many which I've pushed so far as to end up into that most-hated abstract category, where the first - or, worse, the only - reaction is, "What is it?"
Finally, I love the search icon, which opens up an endless stream of images to browse. I need to continually refine my feed, as so much is irrelevant and gets rather tedious (I've seen enough B&W images of birds on telephone wires, thanks!) I like to see fresh and unusual work outside of what I typically 'get'. The feature which I'd like to see would be a 'recommend' button. A place for you to list your top suggestion(s) for others to follow.
Follow me! - @alexrumford