Finding New Outlets: How Instagram Expanded My Photographic Creativity
I’ll be the first to admit – I was initially reluctant to join Instagram. Naively, I believed the early days of the social media outlet displayed nothing more than what certain people enjoyed for their lunch, an endless amount of selfies, and filter-laden images of which I had no particular interest in – not the inspiring photographic works I’ve now learned to appreciate, and not the melting pot of creativity it has become for me.
Becoming an active part of Instagram’s photographic community
Whether you have 500 or 500,000 followers on Instagram, it isn’t hard to find and connect with equal-minded creatives. As you delve deep within the different community driven and visual style-centric hashtags, one can find users who not only inspire, but are also willing collaborate and share ideas.
Given my past experiences and joys as a street photographer, I was first drawn to the more popular and widely used street photography hashtags, which as a result, lead me on a journey to follow the more predominant profiles and Instagramers capturing street life in my area of interest – New York City. Doing so not only lead to my discovery of new and intriguing areas to photograph throughout the city, but also inspired me to evolve the style of my images.
For instance, when capturing street life, I have more of an awareness of the surrounding architecture elements, and use those elements to draw more out the scene. An example of this is the image below, captured and edited with the iPhone 5, displaying a strong interplay between architecture, symmetry and candid life.
Trying new things
On of the most important lessons I’ve learned from being an active part of Instagram is the ability to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. As I mentioned above, the techniques I practiced for capturing street life evolved, but what about expanding my photography to new areas?
The same concepts of inspiration discovery I practiced initially for street photography on Instagram eventually lead me to expand my interests in different facets of photography. I found myself capturing more landscapes, architecture, and portraits, I connected and collaborated with a new set of peers, and I consciously observed the world around me as my next photo op – a mindset I truthfully didn’t have before joining Instagram.
The image below is a prime example of having a more conscious awareness. It was taken at a moment’s notice while walking to dinner with a friend in Midtown Manhattan. I observed an incomplete advertising space with its florescent light fixtures exposed and realized the opportunity to snap a unique portrait. I pulled out my iPhone 5, exposed for the brighter elements within the scene, and the rest was history.
Whether you have the means to carry around your primary camera throughout the day, or like me, just have the opportunity to use an iPhone (now iPhone 6 Plus), it’s important to keep your eyes peeled for the next great image. It’s cliche, I know. But I’ve said it before, and I truly do believe in these words: the best camera is the one that’s with you.
In my opinion, having this mind-set from the on-set allows for a organic approach to capturing images. The vast majority of the Instagram accounts I follow are mobile photography only – meaning all images posted are captured and edited by a smartphone. These images don’t appear limited by the capture technology being used, they are only highlighted by the level of visual creativity the person behind the camera contains.
In other words, and for my final thought, joining Instagram broke down many of the preconceived notions I had about my personal photography. As a result of being a part of such a large community of creatives, I feel as though my visual style expanded through the ease collaboration, conversation and appreciation of different aspects of photography.
Instagram has become much more than selfies and #foodporn, be sure you’re the one who makes the most of the platform.