When I met my friend to shoot with my new camera, I knew exactly what I wanted. My white beret and red blazer, needed concrete walls and neutral palates. I wanted to shoot in quiet places; spots where the average person wouldn’t stop to admire the view. As I began posing, a confused man stumbled past and stared in bafflement. I’m not going to feel embarrassed I thought. It’s not a crime to capture Instagram photos.
Though websitehostingrating.com, reports statistics stating 4.2 billion Instagram likes are pressed each day, people are still puzzled, angry and unsettled at seeing others shoot images. It’s become shameful. One of my friend’s hides his camera like an explicit photo, when a person approaches in near proximity. Why does it bother people? What’s really wrong with wanting an image of yourself?
As a child, photographs were a rarity. I remember my parents investing in our first ‘family’ digital camera. We had it locked away until a holiday, birthday or grand event. Though as young children, just sitting on a swing was enough to make the photo album. In August of 2017, I published the post: The Lost Value of a Photo. Showcasing pictures of my grandparents, I reminisced on the past and evaluated the meaning of my own photographs.
A meaningful collection more important?
I made a conscious effort to move away from overly staged Instagram photos. Since writing that post, my views have altered. I believe we still value photography and the art of capturing memories. But we have shifted to think more about a collection as oppose to a single image. Glancing through my Instagram feed, I can see many arguably, pointless uploads. Black coffee in a coffee shop, purple flowers from my garden. Me standing next to a blank wall.
Added together, and that’s my present life story. My Instagram reflects me at different stages in my year and within my life. From what I wore, what I ate and what filters I chose. I can see the sad times when I was hiding depression and wearing black attire without smiling. The moment I started taking my health seriously. I even know which section reveals the period in my life when I first fell in love.
More than that, it’s an understanding of growth. It’s proof of my transition. From showing a lot of skin, to opting for sophisticated outfits. When I have self-doubt and feel unassured, I know the physical truth is there, on my Instagram photos. No matter how edited or set-up, a photograph always reveals something.
There are rules I believe everyone deserves to follow. Never make someone uncomfortable by taking photos while they are clearly in the background. Always be respectful of people’s fun – spending the entire day shooting easily gets tiring. And try to limit being a nuisance in general. If someone doesn’t like playing photographer, don’t continually ask them.
I try to shoot my photos in one go, so I can then put my camera away and be fully present. I situate my photography with care. It never quite matters, because people still gawk. They look at you like how they look up to the sky when it’s cloudy, determining if they’ll see an outpour of rain. My family especially, always comment when I ask for a photo.
If you have a personal blog and social-media, you naturally show your face. By law, you have to publish your own photographs, and people like images. Unless you opt for a site which contains pictures also used by others. If everyone did that, they’d be nothing unique. Yet I go in to a quiet coffee shop or bar, silently take a photo, and I’m absolutely judged. I sense the couple on the other table making irritated expressions.
Issue with taking Instagram photos
“Oh, she’s staging an Instagram shot. Who does she think she is?”. There are a billion Instagram users, why can’t we just admit that we like taking Instagram photos? Why the awkwardness and embarrassment? People have told me that I’m confident for posing on a street where cars drive past, or not caring at a restaurant. When did using a camera stop becoming normal, despite everyone wanting a phone with a high-quality mega pixel?
I’ve yet to see someone be annoyed that their phone has a camera. In our judgemental society, anyone doing something out the norm is somehow a problem. It’s great to pose next to a stereotypical monument. Stand where a million others have stood and you’re perfectly fine. Shoot artistically in an everyday location, a spot where people don’t get dressed up, and you’re inappropriate.
It’s not as though holiday snaps are always that different. Same types of Instagram photos, except you’re standing in front of a beach or besides a cocktail. Visiting the zoo with my younger sisters, I realised how incredible it is that they have countless memories captured for them to not forget. How I wish I had more videos and pictures to glance back on. The boring ones where I’m eating ice-cream or playing games with my grandparents. My sisters will always know we were extremely close as my everyday photos reveal our bond.
What is the limit to capturing Instagram photos? How confident are you to take them? I refuse to back down and feel guilty. When a stranger gives me a disgraceful look, I’ll give one back. How dare they try to ruin my amateur art.