What’s the big deal about Instagram? I couldn’t dig it from the moment it appeared, and I’m still struggling to understand how and why it got popular. Influenced by my dad who had been a B&W amateur photographer for many decades before I was born, I always believed my photos should store interesting slices of reality and depict memorable moments in the most accurate way. But maybe that’s where my world shifts from the Instagram worlds. I don’t try to recreate a fictious “brave old world” by altering my present photos.
Not to call Fidel an infidel, but nowadays I notice a surge of fake fidelity and “weird” colors in square pictures of some of my friends’ Facebook, Google+ and Twitter posts, and for a while I wondered what was going on. With Instagram it is really easy to shoot a phone pic, apply some effects and make it look like a great nostalgic Polaroid work of art, but at the same time that’s disrespecting the old fainted pictures. I absolutely love natural color shifts and I believe the great fun lies in hunting for those special and miraculous moments of “natural light filters” due to various meteorological, atmospheric and other conditions pertaining to the captured moment, but I despise artificial alterations of the photos – next thing you know, you find yourself wondering whether some real photos you see somewhere else are fake. Fortunately, in this case the fake ones are square and most natural ones aren’t.
Surprisingly, I have nothing against the square format. Everything has its purpose and widescreen or letterbox formats are good for huge groups, panorama pictures, snakes and funerals, but when it’s about one or few individuals, this ratio is perfect. In addition, since this format is very seldom (virtually never) used by most contemporary cameras, it does make Instagram pictures a bit less intrusive, although their existence is still devaluing the old Polaroid pictures sitting somewhere in a box in the attic (reminder: scan them before they decay even more).
This illogical self-limiting app makes me think of the pitiful choppy refresh rate that’s still being used in movies and theaters world-wide and even blu-ray versions of most movies. The current 24 frames per second refresh rate is a Hollywood standard that was chosen many, many decades ago as the lowest common denominator of all movie theaters so that the cheapo owners wouldn’t have to buy new equipment, and so that the movies could be seen by more people. Nevertheless, some movie aficionados usually jump on me when I state that movies should be recorded at 60 frames per second because in current standard anything but a slow pan looks quite choppy. Unaware of the reasons I mentioned above, they will often respond that the movies shot in 24 fps rate are more artistic and that the 60 fps is just pure technology that makes movements look “too smooth and unnatural”(?!). I say why don’t we let the artist have more options and use the worse technology if they wish. Why limit their freedom of expression?
Similarly, Instagram now offers you to limit your photo expression with skewed colors and a square frame and it’s making you believe that the old fainted Polaroid pictures were great because of the imperfections, which is a load of bull. What makes them great is not the square format or the fainted colors. It’s the memorable moments and the people you love that can be found both on these pictures and deep in your heart. Everything else is fake, plastic and artificial.
I can’t wait for this fashion to end so we can go back to viewing pictures in their original colors. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but I love life the way it is, I prefer my photos straight, and I refuse to use yet another “life skewer”. You can’t resurrect the past by faking its imperfections.
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REMINDER: Don’t forget to scan those old Polaroid pictures sitting somewhere in the corner. The more you wait, the worse they’ll get.