My Complicated Relationship With Instagram Thursday July 21, 2011

True confessions. I have this odd love/hate/adore relationship with everyone’s favourite iPhone photograph app – Instagram.

There are somedays, where I marvel at this little photo tool and contemplate how it’s growth is making it one of the most important Social Networks out there (especially for unique businesses). Then on other days, I despise everything about it and want to punish it… in an emo-centric sort of ‘write in my journal’ way. Then there are the days, where I just want to make sweet love to it and thank it for being there all the time. To thank instagram for letting me capture the elements of my daily life.


There’s a great article from an old SXSW college, Colleen Lin, on the whole instagram phenominea. So I won’t rehash that, but read it if you’re unfamiliar with Instagram.

But from a social perspective there is incredible amount of business potential with Instagram. If Hipstamatic can figure out unique ways to further monetize their services, then Instagram can do the same thing. Thousands of users sharing hundreds of photos each day – the potential is limitless.

For a simple and effective example, The Deftones, held an incredibly successful instagram contest on their last tour. The idea was simple, ask concert goers to take the photos of their experience and then post them to instagram with the hashtags ‘deftonesband’ and ‘thecityoftheconcert’. The band garnished thousands of followers and made the main Instagram page a dozen times.

In a way, the promotion was a unique success, because it transended the typical contest. It wasn’t a simple ‘like’ contest through a stale Facebook page or a spam-induced retweet contest. Instead, it was a simple and creative way for fans to showcase their artistic talents and to allow them to be apart of the overall Deftones experience. Essentially a win-win for the band and the concert goers.

Another, more local example of a unique Instagram business use, is the popular design magazine Uppercase Magazine. Known throughout the design industry for their beautiful magazine, Uppercase is easily one of the most intriguing accounts to follow on Instagram. Not only do you get a sneak peak into the design and development process of this much loved magazine, but you also get to get an intimate look into the personal side of the creative process.

These are just two simple examples, but really the sky is the limits. For example a Food Truck could easily use instagram to not only advertise their latest specials, but also their location (thanks to the Geo-locational API). And I’m sure someone will come up a few more unique instances.


Again, I’m a bit of a Luddite.

I’m not a gadget person and definitely not a tech fan-boi. And while I treasured my first Sony Digital camera, until I placed my thumb through the display screen, I don’t lust for Digital Camera toys.

In an odd way, the emergence of the Digital Camera has made me want to spend more time with analog cameras. I currently own a Polaroid and a Diana Mini and I enjoy the basic level of discovery and the excitement of both cameras. Especially, in comparison to the routiness of a Digital Camera.

But with Instagram and an iPhone/iPod Touch, you get the best of both the digital and analog worlds. Which makes it almost impossible to justify lugging around one of these clunky cameras. Who wants to bother with the inconvenience of finding room for a bag of film or dealing with the uncertainty of how the film will turn out, when you can just Instagram it straight from a smartphone.

So in that instance, Instagram steals the fun and excitement of exploring the world of analog film. It also feels foolish to spend a few hours playing with an old Lomo camera and scanning the five or six quality photos to Flickr, when you can just snap a photo with your iPod, add a filter, and upload it to your favorite social networks. It kinda takes the excitement away from experimenting with Polaroid film and some old 35mm film.


But in the same breath, Instagram is a powerful, powerful app.

With the brisk pace of Digital Camera development, everyone pretty much has a high quality camera at their disposal at all time. Instagram allows users to kick that up a notch and more.

For me, I adore this little app, because it allows me to capture the unique elements of my daily life and add a artistic flare. Instagram allows me to instantly share with my friends, family, facebook friends and twitter followers my daily experience and the images which inspire me. The elements of my new home and the elements of discovery that I come across. And I can also watch my friends and see what is going on in their lives.

So in the same breath that I hate this app, I also love it. It’s why this is such a complicated relationship.

As I watch and continue to use Instagram, I’m starting to believe that it will become one of the most powerful and influential social networks out there. Sure all the buzz is on the Google+/Facebook stand off, but to ignore the untapped potential of Instagram, would be a big mistake.

Even if it means allowing my Polaroid and Diana Mini to gather a bit more dust.

Categories: The-Soapbox, the-social-media, The ArtWorld, The Blogosphere


You captured many of my own feelings on instagram in this post Connor. Though, I must admit, having never been much of a analog film photog, aspects you hate about it don’t really apply in my case.

That said, I’d add one more love to list:

Using instagram regularly has actually inspired me to take many, many more photographs than I normally would. It makes the act of exploring and discovering the world – as I normally enjoy doing – into a simultaneous search for some seredipitous, beautiful visual scene. And the user community embraces these great shots as shared experiences in a way few other social media communities (maybe Flickr?) have succeeded at – certainly no other social media platform has done so with the same ease or convenience. The feel of instagram reminds me quite a bit of the early days on Twitter and Tumblr and why I fell in love with those platforms.

Andrew McIntyre · Jul 22, 03:38 pm · #permalink


Hey Andrew,

I’m glad you like the post. Now that you mention it, I’m starting to realize that I get the same feeling with Instagram as I did with Twitter at the beginning.

Oddly enough, I also find that in a weird way that it reinforces some of the inherited friendships that I’ve grown on twitter. I find that the people I follow on there are the same people that if stumbled into in real life I’d probably grab a beer with.

So on that aspect, I really, really dig instagram.

cto · Jul 26, 09:45 pm · #permalink

Commenting is closed for this article.