How Instagram Influenced Photography In The Last Decade

Women Love Tech
on 11 May 2020

Instagram has changed the way we visually document our daily lives. Now boasting 1 billion monthly users, the platform has redefined the meaning of photography, generating various trends among the industry and becoming a hub for continuously exposing audiences to exceptional content.

And, as 2020 marks Instagram’s 10th birthday, there is no better time to reflect on how this social platform has transformed the photography landscape. 

The rising norm of amateur modelling

Instagram has fashioned a new approach to portrait photography – one without the bells and whistles of a professional photoshoot. With less overheads and more spontaneity, the experience of an Instagram shoot is fun-filled.  

Both ‘photographer’ and ‘model’ can hone in on their personal creative skills, regardless of their expertise, and capture shots that may be outside of the traditional photography realm. 

It is not uncommon to see this self-expression across the feeds of photographers and models alike as they look to broadcast their personal creativity. In fact, if Miranda Kerr (who was discovered at 13 by Dolly magazine) was just starting out today, she’d likely turn out to be an Instagram model, using the platform to showcase her modeling potential.

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Anyone who doesn’t shy away from the camera can be a model on Instagram. When I shoot portraits, whether at a photography meet-up or a pre-arranged session with an aspiring model, I come prepared with a clear idea of the look or story we want to achieve from the shoot. However, I recognise that it’s always important to allow room for new ideas and suggestions coming from the model, or improvisation inspired by the space – such details can only add creativity to the shots. 

Time and time again, we hear people say that equipment doesn’t matter, it’s instead how you compose your shot that defines the result. While composition is obviously important, a fit-for-purpose camera sure helps in taking your photography skills a step further. 

For example, you’re not going to get the creamy depth of field on an iPhone as you would using a Fujifilm 56mm F1.2. With Instagram photography, there are some corners you can cut (No lighting rig? Natural light and reflectors will save you), but if you’re cutting every corner, the results are telling. 

Bonnie Nguyen, Instagram
Taken with Fujifilm 56mm F1.2

Despite the 56mm F1.2 being Fujifilm’s most popular portrait lens, I’ve also shot a fair few portraits with 23mm F2 when all I had was an X100T

Bonnie Nguyen, Instagram
Taken with Fujifilm X100T (with 23mm F2)

Emerging taste in post-production

As technology advances, post-processing has become mainstream. Instagram filters only go so far as to enhance JPGs. To edit RAW images, photographers have gone the extra mile and used industry standard software, such as Lightroom and Photoshop, for in-depth editing like colour-grading and photo manipulation. No pores on the model’s face? That’s Photoshop, used amateurishly.

Instagram has sparked strong trends in making certain genres of photography look a certain way. In food photography, for example, we often see bright, colourful flat lays of aesthetic desserts and drinks taken from a straight down perspective. In night and urbex photography, people tend to saturate selected colours such as cyan and orange. 

Just like photography, post-processing is easily accessible and applicable nowadays. It will perpetually serve our collective desire to create photos that follow an aesthetic and are ‘like-able’.

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Travel destinations have soared to fame

From metropolitan cities to tucked-away villages, Instagram has made many remarkable destinations rise to fame. It’s so easy for smartphone users to tap-and-snap their shots, exposing them to a global audience via multiple hashtags and location-sharing features accessible on Instagram.

However, these endless discoveries of new places, coupled with a growing public interest in travel, has also prompted more people to invest in digital cameras. Armed with these cameras that have impressive capabilities, they can then take their photography skills one step further and capture their journeys in much more detail.

Bonnie Nguyen, Instagram
Taken with Fujifilm X100T (with 23mm F2)

Instagram as a networking platform

The practice of cross-sharing content on Instagram has made photography socially reachable and relatable. The growing number of Instagram users and consequent increase in photography globally has shaken up the amateur photography industry, encouraging personal shots and photography ideas to spread and ramify at an exponential rate. At almost no cost, I can find talent, connect with other photographers and learn new tips from them that help to perfect my own practice all from the one platform. 

Instagram has undoubtedly fueled my involvement in the photography community over the past few years. It has also honed my art direction and challenged the boundaries of conceptual thinking. 

However, as filters become more avant-garde and photography genres continue to evolve in the digital age, we’re still finding it hard to define what truly appeals to the eye amid a state of information overload. 

So, over the next decade, where exactly will Instagram take us?

Check out Bonnie’s work at @bonniewingsit

Women Love Tech would like to thank Bonnie Nguyen for her article.

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