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Instagram: For Phone Images Only?

First of all, I'm gonna assume that even if you're not on Instagram, you have a rudimentary knowledge of what it is. I bit the bullet and jumped on IG sometime in 2013 – probably about the time I got my first iPhone.

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'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 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 :) 

Words to Live by: 10 Great Disney Movie Quotes

I've always – ALWAYS – been a fan of Disney movies. Especially the animated ones.

I mean, who doesn't love watching a cute, cuddly character have fun adventures while learning a life lesson? Because, in every Disney movie there's obviously a moral.

This isn't earth-shattering material. Hell, it's not even unique (but what on the Internet IS anymore?!), but here are my top ten favorite quotes – words to live by, if you will (and I think you will) – from Disney movies.

  1. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. (Bambi)
  2. Don't be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within. (Beauty & the Beast)
  3. If you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true. (Cinderella)
  4. Just keep swimming. (Finding Nemo)
  5. The past can hurt…but you can either run from it, or learn from it. (Lion King)
  6. The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it. (Peter Pan)
  7. Always let your conscience be your guide. (Pinocchio)
  8. If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.  (Pocahontas)
  9. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist can come from anywhere. (Ratatouille)
  10. You're never too old to be young. (Snow White)
What're YOUR favorite animated movie quotes?

Google "Related to" Searches Can Leave Me Feeling Dead Inside

I'm a search marketer. Well, according to my boss-slash-husband, I'm a Digital Strategist. But whatever.

So today I'm doing PPC keyword research for a client. This particular client happens to be a women's wellness clinic, and the keywords were OB-GYN focused. Part of the research I do, I perform in Google AdWords' Keyword Planner Tool (which I don't like very much. I much prefer the old one). Another part of my research involves heading over to The Google and typing in some of the stuff I've found on the see what Google is auto-suggesting for me.

ALSO on The Google, I take a look at the bottom of the page where the "searches related to..." section resides. There's some good stuff down there -- I mean, if The Google is suggesting it, odds are people are clicking on it (even though these recommendations are at the BOTTOM of the SERP. Yes, there IS life below the fold).


So I'm doing "OB GYN" type searches and this is what I'm seeing for auto-suggest and related searches:

No biggie. Pretty standard.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand then I type in "find a gynecologist." And things the "related to" section:

I mean, I trust The Google (most of the time). But, when they throw in something SO far off base that it can't even see the baseline, makes me pause for a second. I mean, ONLY a second -- not like I'd go use Bing or anything!

I've been trying to find ANY other "related to" searches that're rotten eggs, and I'm having a hard time.

Has anyone else ever run across something THIS far outta line for Google "related to" searches???

What Do I Know About Raising Minimum Wage? I Was Raised in the Lap of Middle Class Luxury...

Today at lunch a couple of my co-workers were talking about raising minimum wage. I don't normally involve myself in political discussions, but I had to pipe up and mention that, yes, people actually CAN – and do – live on a minimum-wage salary (a person; not a family).

Of course, everyone's definition of "being able to live like that" differs. For example, if you earn minimum wage, live with your family (who doesn't really expect you to chip in much for bills/rent/utilities), and buy only what you need to survive, you can do it. Lots of people do. I think.

At this point in the conversation I had to clarify: what do I know about it, having been raised in the lap of middle class luxury?

Pre- and Post-Photoshop Images

Not only did I drag my feet getting my first smartphone – and much later, my first iPhone – I didn't go digital in the photography world until 2006.

Sadly, while I had access to a fantastic photography club at the time that brought in great speakers about how to use Photoshop, I didn't attend those seminars since it would've been a waste of time (this would've been in 2004 & 2005, before I took the plunge and was still shooting film).

That's right. I shot film until the year 2006...

And not in the hipster fashion; I used film because back then I "didn't believe" in going digital. I considered it to be a separate art form; I was so used to seeing finished digital images so far removed from the original it felt more like computer art than photography.

Of course, I've changed my way of thinking since then...a bit :)

There were many, many times I looked back on those lost opportunities to learn about Photoshop – FOR FREE – and I berated myself for not taking advantage. I should be much farther along in my PS skillset, but "it is what it is" and I think I manage fairly well with being self-taught.
And, by self-taught I mean I've watched a bunch of tutorials, have spent hours poking around in Photoshop and fortunately have some friends and co-workers who patiently walk me through questions every now and then :)

It's not rocket science but I've gotten adept at fixing my images in Photoshop. Not that all my shots need to be "fixed;" I guess I should say I can edit what I think needs to be edited.

I don't shoot weddings often, but whenever I do, invariably there's the dreaded "group shot" of the entire bridal party.

I've learned to throw the camera on a tripod, shoot rapid-fire...and then choose the best image where MOST people's eyes are open and they're smiling and then mix-and-match eyes and mouths from the rest of the shots.

That's fun. Time-consuming. But, worth it for that ONE group shot that LOOKS as though everyone was perfect. I'm not sure all brides – or, really, anyone who hires a photographer – REALLY understand all the work that goes into the post-shooting process in photography.

Sometimes I wish I could sit them down and say, "look at the original. Aaaaaand now look at what I gave you! You're welcome."

I follow a great pet photographer on Facebook and while I love looking at the beautiful images she posts, I really get a kick out of seeing her "before and after" images, where she shows the raw, unedited original image and then the photo after it's been edited.

While I'm not great at Photoshop, I figured it'd be fun to look back through some of my favorite images and see the pre- and post-edited versions.

Most images generally don't need a lot of editing – I might tweak the exposure, saturation, contrast and a few other minor details – but some need a bit more Photoshop love.

I don't use Lightroom so each photo I adjust is done by "hand," one at a time...I hear from many fellow photogs I need to get Lightroom so I can do batch edits. We'll see how long it takes me to jump on THAT bandwagon.

For now, I'm quite content to edit my RAW images one by one in Photoshop...learning little things here and there as needed.

But, of course, I don't edit my images beyond what I still consider to be "photography." I don't add things into the photo that couldn't be there; I don't blend existing images into something that doesn't exist, etc. etc. etc.

While I think that type of digital art is beautiful, again, I don't consider it to be traditional photography.

Maybe I'll change my mind some day and get into that; who knows. For now, "digitally enhancing" my images will continue to consist of minor edits that could've technically occurred in a dark room :)

(And yes, I've worked in a dark room...granted, it's been a while but I'm well aware of the time needed to merely develop film and perform simple edits.)

And while I tease that I'm not good at Photoshop and I don't do all the fun, crazy stuff Photoshop allows you to do when editing photos, I'm okay with that. I like my style.

Favorite iPhone Photos from 2013

This past December I passed my 1-year anniversary of owning my very first iPhone. It took me a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG time to "make the change," but boy am I glad I did. If you follow me on Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook you MIGHT notice that I take pictures & check in. A LOT.

Well, maybe it's because for the several years I had OTHER "smartphones" I wasn't able to do that. Very often. Or at all...just ask my friends how long it took to cue up the camera on my Droid. I think we counted 8 Mississippis before it turned on. I was sick of it.

So I took the plunge and allowed my husband to purchase the iPhone 5 for me. Instantly I was hooked. You know, just as soon as I figured out what all the little bubble boxes were for ;) I was off and running, and just the other day I made a startling discovery: I took more photos with my iPhone than I did with my point-and-shoot camera in 2013.

While my DSLR still won the battle overall, I was shocked that I'd used my phone THAT much. To that end, I decided to throw together a compilation of my favorite iPhone images from 2013.

Most – if not all – of these have already graced the social media outlets, but it was fun looking back on them and remembering the stories associated with each.