The art of Instagram: Why this app is breaking the boundaries of photography

Miranda Dobson

instagram 300x225 The art of Instagram: Why this app is breaking the boundaries of photographyIt’s true. You may not believe it, but in amongst the dreamily filtered snaps of pets, the blurry edged stir fry dinners, and the now all-too-acceptable “selfie”, there is actually some real art to be found on Instagram.

And it’s not just the product of the picture sharing app’s easy-to-use editing tools, which some critics argue allow anyone to “be a photographer.” Instagram has become a platform for creative people to not only get their artistic output noticed, but to share their process and allow their followers an insight into their lives and studios.

Instagram has quickly risen to huge popularity, and boasts headline figures of 130 million monthly active users, 16 billion photos shared, 1 billion “likes” every day, and 45 million photos uploaded daily.

Despite this enormous success as a business venture, it has come under a sideline of criticism which says it homogenises photography, and is thoughtless and shallow. It has also been argued that Instagram’s ease of use means the skills and knowledge needed to make “real photographs” are undermined.

While it’s true the app lets its users make their latest batch of cupcakes look uber-delicious, or their pet pooch look even more fluffy and cute than it does in reality, their filters and editing tools couldn’t possibly replace the artistic process, could it?

The app is being embraced by a whole range of photographers, sculptors, painters and filmmakers as a way of disseminating their work into the wider world. So, surely, if the artists themselves are taking it up, this is a supportive, rather than destructive, place for art to be displayed, and not only for art world veterans but for fledgling artists too.

Notable Instagram users include Russian photographer, Murad Osmannm who has drawn much attention to his image feed. He used the app to photograph his model girlfriend, Nataly Zakharova, from behind as she leads him by the hand through various worldwide destinations where Osmann was also taking “proper” photographs with a camera.

Another notable figure on the app is Manhattan-based artist Ryan Mcginness, who is often likened to Andy Warhol because of the parallels his work has with pop art. McGinness posts an image a day with a thought-flipping statement brandished in white across a circular black background, as a mini-project alongside his paintings, sculptures and environment pieces.

Other high-profile users include comic book artist, J. Scott Campbell, fashion photographer, Terry Richardson, and New York-based artist and designer, Kaws.

What these artists have show is, that by embracing Instagram as a place to display art, they can also bring attention to their larger body of work, and even use it to produce work using a totally different medium.

The few simple steps that Instagram offers to create aesthetically pleasing images cannot replace talent and an eye for composition, and while many feeds are inane and self-gratifying, the app is enabling established and emerging artistic talent to reach the masses in a wholly new and exciting way.

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  • hazwold_darkbolt

    My daughter posts pictures of guinea pigs and cats and has picked up 3802 followers since June.

  • Mr_Slade

    Instagram is as much about photography as pot noodles are to haute cuisine.

  • Artistic_expression

    I think instagram is the soft sugar coating on our lives. It makes us bury our heads in the sand and go la la la…

  • Corporate Photographer

    Been a pro photographer for over 20 years and this year I have shot several jobs for clients on my iphone and used instagram in the creative process.

  • John

    Have you no soul man?


  • Anthony Papagallo

    Instagram is the polaroid picture of the Digital age.

  • William Geddes

    …and the Brownie camera of our age. The advent of these things reinforces the popularity of Vernacular photography. Vernacular photography spikes when instruments ease picture making. Could it be any easier now?

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