Some time ago, I was chatting with a fellow photographer of mine, Robert-Paul Jansen, and we were discussing why so many talented photographers tend to, in a way, migrate all of their work to social networks such as Instagram and Facebook. They still have their legit website portfolios but are always in haste to post it on Instagram first.
When I started photography, Flickr was my mothership. There, I could find inspiration, advice and overall a good community of photographers always willing to help and exchange ideas. Not to mention showcasing your work in quality, large formats. Same with the online portfolios which are obviously 100% photography centered. And then, a couple of years later, we got presented with Facebook and Instagram. (Keep in mind, as an avid user of both, this will be written from an objective point of view.)
The reason why so many photographers suddenly choose Instagram as their main sharing post is probably because of the site’s popularity and the reach they might get. At first, Instagram was a place for smartphone photography; capturing moments as they happen. But, more and more, we see profiles (on Facebook, too) filled with good quality DSLR work. Even film. It is a well-known fact Instagram and Facebook decrease the upload quality and, from my own personal experience, it never looks as good as on my own website/blog. Then, why do we continue to use it as our main upload site?
Instagram is accessible and simple to use. Most people don’t like to browse through official portfolios; going back and forth through different categories. I have a decent amount of visitors to my official site and, I can honestly say, only a small amount of them scrolls through the portfolio.
With Instagram, everything is already there. People find it easy to use, like and comment. Of course, there is that personal side of Instagram and Facebook which most official portfolios lack of; direct interaction with the artist. Everything is instant. You might say it is a chill out zone where you are justified to post any random photo you want.
On the negative side, Instagram simply wasn’t made for showcasing your glorious 30mpx photos. For me, it is a neat site to interact with my followers and people I follow but, to keep it as my only upload post, is out of the question. The main problem is that most people don’t go beyond your Instagram profile, to actually click the website link in your profile. And that is what I thrive to use it for – a jumping board to my official blog. Only, a fistful of people would visit my website through Instagram. We all love the praise we get and I’m so thankful for it but, I cry a little inside when people don’t get to see the real extent of someone’s art. And, it’s only getting worse.
Instagram’s lack of linking capacity (and by this I mean the possibility of clicking on a link to open it up on your device’s web browser) remains a to-do for developers since several companies have strong marketing campaigns running via Instagram.
No matter how proud you are of your official portfolio, the infamous “Do you have an Instagram account?” question is more and more in style. We might as well roll with it but, it’s important to keep our full-size portfolios as a priority, as well. In the end, official websites will still remain to be visited mostly by fellow photographers and art lovers. As for Instagram, we are going to use it until the end of Time.
Also keep in mind that in order to upload those precious photographs you happen to take with your DSLR camera, you actually need to use third-party apps such as Latergram, as Instagram itself doesn’t allow you to upload images that aren’t loaded on your mobile device. For such procedure, there is a 1 MB limit for the file to be uploaded, but we gain the ability of scheduling posts (immensely handy!).
If you want to keep your options open even further, you can take a go with apps such as 500px, a community that has been growing quite steady between photography community, and it’s mostly meant for keen photographers (therefore you won’t find those overly common selfies that tend to spam Instagram lately).
Hope this guide was useful for you and see you next time!