Of course, as the proud owner of an iPhone, I was able to enter the world of Instagram – see, when it first rolled out the app was ONLY for Mac mobile devices (iPhones, iPads & iPod Touch). Psh. So snooty. The app is obviously now available across all tablets & smartphones and is QUITE the popular social media venue.
As with many social media sites these days, there's definitely cross-pollination availability: right from the Instagram app you can choose to upload to not only Instagram, but also Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and even Flickr. Similar to Twitter, the use of hashtags makes photos findable and is a way to get in front of a wider audience (and hopefully garner more likes/comments and – best of all – followers).
Instagram was mobile-only accessible until the beginning of 2013, when it rolled out web profiles. While an Instagram user can't post to their account from the web, anyone can see their pictures and it's a nice link to send people who don't have the app on their phone/tablet (um. who ARE you people?) – like my grandma, for instance (oh. okay.).
People who visit the web-version of Instagram are able to not only view pictures, but also like and/or comment on them, as well. So, blah blah and yadda yadda, what's the big dealio with Instagram, anyway?
Well, since users are only able to post photos from a mobile-only app*, my question is this: is it "cheating" if you take pictures with a dSLR, edit them in Photoshop, upload them to your phone, and then post THOSE images on Instagram?
In my mind I say, "Yes, that's absolutely cheating!" since it's a MOBILE app. It's on your phone. You snap pictures with your phone, post to Instagram. Done. It's simple, visceral, and there's no "editing" (other than the filters in the program you can choose to apply or not at your discretion).
If we could post photos from the online version, then it'd be a different story (to me). But the entire premise of this social venue is "instant."
And, per the company itself:
"Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever."
I'm by no means the only one debating this issue...it's been an ongoing back-and-forth (for several years) with many different opinions, spanning from those completely angered by Instagrammers who upload their edited dSLR images to those more lenient people who say, "Photos are photos and it's a photo-share site. Unwad your panties and move on."
So why are MY panties in a wad about this? Well, because I not only love taking photos with my iPhone (I always have it on me so it's super-easy to snap a quick shot if I see something I've gotta document) but I'm also an avid hobby photographer. I love my Canon 60D and can spend hours shooting and then editing all my photos.
When I first got started on Instagram, I followed a few people (and fewer followed me :). As I gained a wider "friend" base on the app, it struck me that some of these people...in fact, quite a few...weren't using iPhone photos.
I was shocked to see SO many fellow photogs posting their dSLR images on this mobile-only app. CHEATERS! my mind hissed.
I myself – at that time – had never posted anything but iPhone photos. I also had a scant handful of followers, and those only loyal friends.
So I was kind of at an impasse: did I continue on posting just photos I'd taken with my phone, or did I venture into the world of "cheating" and upload photos I'd not only taken with a dSLR but – gasp! – edited in Photoshop?
Well, long story longer: I now upload both actual Instagram photos (i.e., images taken with my phone) and cheating Instagram photos (i.e., images I've taken with either my dSLR or my point-and-shoot, uploaded to my desktop, edited in Photoshop, then loaded onto my phone and from THERE onto Instagram).
And guess what? Some of my most popular photos – the ones with the most likes and comments – are ones from my dSLR.
While it sort of disappoints me – the part of me that wants to use the app as it was originally intended – there's also part of me that's okay with "cheating." Especially since I'd come up with a way to feel better about myself while posting dSLR photos.
I'm a fan of hashtags anyway, but for every non-mobile photo I posted on Instagram, I used the hashtag #notaniphonephoto.
Notice it's in the past tense – I don't do it anymore. a) I kept forgetting to add it and b) no one else seems to care whether images are mobile or not mobile. So I've absorbed the (overall) community feel of Instagram and have not stayed pure.
What I want to know is: what do YOU think about how other people use Instagram? Do you care that they're posting photos not taken with a mobile device?
*To be clear: Instagram itself is mobile-only...but due to the clamor of people like me (and myriads of others who upload their non-mobile photos) there are third-party sites that evidently allow one to upload photos right from their desktop to Instagram. I don't have any experience with these, and am curious how well they work. They've got to be quicker than the process I go through (outlined above)...
PS: Let's not assume I have delusions of grandeur that I have more/enough/substantial followers. Although just today I got my 100th follower! I'm proud. And humble...because every single person I follow has more than that. Okay, some of them don't, but they've been on Instagram for maybe a month. I obviously have quite a bit to learn about this community :)