Instagram is where the heart is:

I have to say initially, I was a little hesitant to signup to Instagram. Not because I am pretentious about photography, or thought it was uninteresting or mundane, quite literally the opposite in fact. Something of a cynical idealist perhaps?

Now that I have left my sweet twenty-somethings’ behind, I am feeling contentiously begrudging of technology, slightly ambivalent towards social media and the internet, yet I can’t explain why. It seems it was more the fact that I needed to download yet another app that appeared superfluous, to have yet another login and password, and be bombarded with yet another load of information that would distract me from my own daily duties, which compelled me to maroon it with judicious expletives.

However, there are a few things, which I find interesting about Instagram. One being how it is an even more efficient way to promote how good your life is, superseding the ‘brag-book’ as some of my friends now call it, and how so many young people continue to publish with such wilful ignorance. And then also there is the psychological aspects of needing to document everything that we are doing. The cultural concept is implicitly reminiscent of and possibly exemplary of Wolfgang Tillman’s famous book, ‘If one things matters. Everything matters.’ This is where my heart lies, because being a student, I wrote my final dissertation about the snapshot being hung as art, at a time when social media hadn’t made it into my daily life yet, and Facebook was just launching. But the intimacy, authenticity and genuity of the snapshot, and now the self-publishing of it pushing it into other realms, fascinates me.

But, so far, I am glad that I have downloaded it. And I love it. I try to analyse from time to time why I love it? I know that one reason being, is that my camera phone is ultimately the worst amongst who I know, and therefore Instagram helps elevate my pictures to a more note-worthy level. But two, and this is the main reason, is that I think it helps make me a better photographer? Debatable of course, however it pleases me.

‘Shoot first, think later!’ has become my new mantra, and I feel like it is liberating me from the restrictive pressure of being a photographer, and the expectations that come with it. Before I would never have photographed my cup of coffee, nor what I’m eating. Never before did I consider using my camera phone for anything more than a document of my friend’s birthday shenanigans, or a city trip to Edinburgh. I feel less pressure to make ‘final pieces’ of work, because Instagram and the very nature of the instantaneous snap-shot, the ephemeral notion of ‘image’, pinned on the web in seconds and the moment is there, for all to consume, sparkle, and then fade, fading into a mere archive of memento mori’s that could melt even the most calloused heart. But that’s what I like. ‘Ooh look at my beautiful heart-warming, over due coffee fix lovingly made by a proper barista’, and then onto someone elses’ day at a market. It’s a congenial platform to showcase to your friends your note-worthy highlights that would be too tiresome for Facebook. The most affecting expressions of your day, becoming mere electronic wallpaper, stitched together creating a heightened visual edit of your daily life. But Instagram offers what Facebook can’t; a way of making your photograph more beautiful than what you are photographing. It is thinking about how to make an object worthy of attention. It makes you think about the process of photographing something, without being restricted by it.

And with this new culture, comes a roving yet discerning eye, more observant than ever before, and letting go at the same time, It’s freeing. But mostly, I feel it is therapy. The very nature of documenting something about your day that catches your attention for a fleeting moment actually is a visual form of implicitly and explicitly internalising and acknowledging what you are grateful for, which in turn, I feel makes you more content with your life. Being able to sift over your week of highlights internally reminds you of the good things that have happened to you. Yeah, it might have been just a nice cup of coffee, or some American pancakes, or maybe a nice regent-embellished ceiling in a bar that your boyfriend or lush new date took you to, but in one swipe you can see in a carefully naunced medium, that things are happening, if only for a brief moment. Being content is the one sure way of achieving happiness, a concept with such an unfathomable vastness, and if a free app can help you achieve this, then why not?