The Northerner

New ways to present photos through Instagram

Marina Schneider, Contributing writer

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Photo-sharing social networks give almost everyone a chance to display the way they see the world, resulting in an explosion of amateur photography that is changing the way images are disseminated. Armed with their smartphones, people everywhere are potential photographers.

Many professional photographers believe that sites and applications like Instagram can have a negative impact on their craft, but traditional media outlets are welcoming it as an innovative approach they are willing to try.

The New York Times, Vanity Fair and The Associated Press are news organizations experimenting with ways to incorporate the Instagram app into their news strategy.

AP has requested that photographers covering the 2012 presidential elections use their personal Instagram feeds professionally for behind-the-scenes photos that are not sent to the wire.
“We’d been seeing our photographers using iPhones to shoot offbeat, strange, interesting moments they’d come across, so we asked them to get Instagram accounts to formalize it,” Santiago Lyon, AP’s director of photography, said in the Columbia Journalism Review. “We’re seeing the coming together of journalism and social media, which complements mainstream journalism.”

Instagram is a photo-sharing app service that allows registered users to post a photo and manipulate it using filters provided by the site. It has received as much criticism for “cheapening” the art of photography as blogs did when they first appeared, and professional journalists thought it could be the end of their careers.

Matt Baker, who teaches a photojournalism class at Northern Kentucky University, said he agrees that photography posted by amateur users in Instagram cannot substitute the work of a professional photographer.

“The world is big enough for Instagram,” Baker said. New technologies and delivery methods should complement what is already known and photo-sharing sites are also bringing wonderful images for all to enjoy, he said.

Jon Willis, a professional photographer who graduated from NKU, acknowledges the power of Instagram’s phenomenon and embraces it in his work. Willis created a photo exhibition of the best photos from his six favorite Instagram users at a local coffee shop.

“I do not think Instagram is ruining photography the same way photography didn’t ruin painting or drawing,” Willis said.

In addition to good and bad photography, Instagram can be used for other meaningful purposes.
Roberta Domingues chronicles her chemotherapy treatment through Instagram. Her family lives far away, but can follow her two-year battle against lung cancer.

She takes close-up pictures of needles and dripping medication and uses filters to “make them look less scary or painful,” she said.

She said she is getting many followers and words of encouragement from people all over the world who are touched by her pictures.Users shared an estimated 100 billion photos from 2004 to 2011, according to Royal Pingdom, a website that monitors numbers on the Internet. Other social networks such as Pinterest, Flickr, Tumblr and Twitter also share photo content making the world an increasingly gigantic visual buffet.

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New ways to present photos through Instagram