Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Instagram Sucks

When I first heard of this thing called Instagram, I thought it was some sort of dial-up cocaine delivery service or a breakfast cereal for hipsters. But, no, it turns out that Instagram is an app that lets you edit your pictures so that they resemble the snapshots that are in your old photo albums. It took years of development to get smartphone cameras to the point that they take sharp, clean photos that are excellent representations of the world around us, and now Instagram comes along to let hipsters make them blurry again. 

For a while, I took issue with the very concept of altering the photos with Instagram. It's not like the users of this app are fooling anybody into thinking that the picture they just took is actually a scan of a Polaroid from 1970, so why bother? And users don't have any control over the degree of filtering that is done on the picture, so any claims of Instagram appealing to someone's artistic side are invalid.  What Instagram is doing is creating a user-base of lazy photographers who rely too much on the magical retro touch to make their ordinary photos look artistic. They no longer have to bother with the concepts of composition, lighting, or depth of field when can take any mediocre photo and make it look interesting. 

Upon watching my Facebook friends use Instagram, I began to understand the love for nostalgia that Instagram brings out in people. We've been conditioned to associate fond memories with the past, and to associate "vintage" things  with higher quality. If your photo looks vintage, then you feel that it's a better photo.  If adding filters to your cell phone pictures strikes your fancy, then there's not much I can say to dissuade you from it. I'll just chalk it up to difference in tastes, and, so long as you use the effects sparingly, you won't hear any bitching from me.

If you really do like adding filters to your photos on your phone, then Instagram is not the best mobile phone app for doing so. I think, as a photo app, Instagram sucks. It offers a very small number of filters compared to other apps out there. Believe it or not, there are some Instagram alternatives available. If you're using Android and want an app with tons of filters, then take a look at Pixlr-o-matic. It offers a huge range of filters and frames and even includes some amazing lighting effects. Filters are being created on a regular basis. All you have to do is download them from within the app.

The best photo editing app for iPhone is easily Snapseed. If you want to create highly stylized yet unique pictures out of your mobile photos, then Snapseed is they way to do it. The app offers some great filters and allows you to have a degree of creative control over them. The app is going to cost you $4.99, though. I know that's a potential deal breaker, but Snapseed is worth the cost. 

If you take anything away from this post, then let it be this: No matter how you plan on filtering your photos, just make sure you keep a copy of the original. After all, it will be considered "vintage" itself one day.


  1. I agree with you. I hate when trolls get your instagram deleted. I stopped awhile ago and always kept my photos untouched. Its pretty stupid.

  2. I am totally with you on all this. Instagram is limited, over-used, and you have no choice over what you share with Facebook. Pixlr-o-Matic really is so much better.