Instagram, the promised land of selfies, attention seeking and photo filters. Now I’m not really into any of those things. But still, making an Instagram account has been on my mind for a long time now. So after an arduous thought process, planning and coming to terms with the flaws Instagram has, I finally decided to hop onboard the Instagram train.
I’ve tested the murky waters of Instagram a few times in the past. The first time I gave up before even creating an account. I just didn’t like the aspect ratio constraints and the small 800px maximum image size at that time. The second time was much more recent. I decided to create an account, but just for following people. This way I could see how Instagram works and if it would benefit me as a photographer. As it turns out, I do like the functionality even with the flaws it has.
My second social media
I once wrote about “My first social media” in my old blog regarding Google Plus. Well, at this point we all know how well that went. At the beginning of April this year, Google decided to ditch the service altogether. This didn’t affect me at all since I lost interest in the service soon after I started using it. Google Plus just never took off because of the fierce competition it got from Facebook. Also the service felt empty and hollow right from the get-go and it didn’t get any better even later on.
So Instagram is the second “official” social media for me. Now I do use Whatsapp and I have a Twitter account, so this isn’t entirely true. Although I’ve never actually actively used Twitter. It’s just something that doesn’t interest me and I don’t even consider Whatsapp as a social media.
I also have an Vero account. This service was trending hard among photographers a while back, but it just didn’t get enough traction against Instagram. It has a lot of things going for it technically like dark user interface. It also has more sensible restrictions to aspect ratio for photos. The issue is more on the side of users not adopting the service. Vero also means tax in Finnish, so that’s one reason to dislike it.
At this point I’ve actively used Instagram for about two months now. I’m still getting to grips how to make it work best for me. I do like the visual nature it brings to the table compared to other services. It’s also, for the lack of better word, streamlined quite well for just showing images.
Another positive note is that I really do like the way I can share single images without writing a few chapters of text “around it”. If I just posted an image without any text here in my blog, my SEO would suffer badly.
Third on the list of positive things is the fact that I’ve actually had to dig deep in my catalog of over 60k images and edit photos for Instagram. Otherwise they would just sit on my hard drive waiting for some use case. My portfolio is in a dire need of updating and adding images to it, so maybe this will correct that issue as well.
I don’t think you can leave dislikes on Instagram, but I myself have a few regarding its use.
Firstly and most importantly I don’t really appreciate the weird aspect ratios Instagram forces you to use. Well force is a bit strong, but if you want to show a decent size photo, you’ll have to abide by a few rules. The 1:1 aspect ratio was cute at first when Instagram tried to mimic old instant cameras like Polaroid and Fujifilm Instax. At the moment the biggest possible image must be in the 4:5 aspect ratio, which means a portrait crop.
These days I’d much prefer 3:2 or even wider aspect ratios and also the possibility to post larger landscape images. This could be easily achievable if the UI would flip into landscape mode on a phone or a tablet device. Not to mention how easy it would be to realize as a website.
Secondly the lack of native iPad (other tablets as well) app and the crippled experience when using a computer are quite frustrating. I don’t really like to use my phone if I can use a computer with a better screen and an actual keyboard and mouse. There are a few workarounds that I use, so it isn’t such a big deal, but it could be way better. By far the most useful workaround is described in the chapter below.
The last issue I have might be nitpicking, but no dark mode user interface gives me hives. I use it pretty much wherever I can. And having to re-work the images before posting by boosting contrast and saturation to make the images decent on a white background is something I could live without.
Protip: Responsive Design Mode on Chrome, Safari or Firefox
Maybe this will help someone, so here’s how you use and share to Instagram from your computer. Firstly you’ll need either Chrome, Safari or Firefox as a browser. These browsers support a so called “Responsive Design Mode”, which can emulate different mobile devices inside the browser window.
So if you go to your account in Instagram and enable this mode:
|Firefox||Ctrl + Shift + M||Cmd + Opt + M|
|Chrome||Ctrl + Shift + M||Cmd + Shift + M|
|Safari||-||Ctrl + Cmd + R|
You’ll see your Instagram page as you would see it on a mobile device. You might need to refresh the page (F5 (or Cmd + R on macOS)) to see the Instagram toolbar. From here you can press the plus sign and pick a photo to share from anywhere on your computer.
I keep my edited and exported Instagram photos on my Google Drive. This way I can post from any computer or device.
Crushing the Instagram game
The well liked and much followed Youtuber, Peter McKinnon said in a video that you should crush your Instagram game. It of course depends on what you’re aiming to achieve with the service, but I can attest that it does feel a bit like a game. You follow people, gain followers yourself and the only meter you have to judge how good your photo is is the number of likes and comments.
Because of my age, I’m not exactly a part of the instant gratification culture. So let’s just say that I’m happy to have an outlet where I can share my work with relative ease. And perhaps gain a few people to check out this website as well. Don’t get me wrong, since it does feel a bit like a game and I like games, the instant gratification doesn’t feel bad to me. Maybe I’ll be all about the hashtags and social media life in a few months, but I wouldn’t place any bets on that happening.
To be continued…
I’ll probably chime back with another post on this matter once I get my groove on and settle into a good rhythm with the Instagram posts. But my goal at the moment is to keep posting one photo a day and I’ll try to continue to do that as best as I can.
Hopefully you’ll check me out on Instagram and also if you came here from the Instagram post, welcome!