When Instagram was first launched, it seemed as if anybody in possession of an iPhone and a few opposable digits could create photographs to a professional level, what with all of the retro-washed lenses and artistic filters that you pop on your snaps. However, professional photographers needn’t hang up their cameras just yet, as the honeymoon period wasn’t too long (or too sweet, come to that).
The fact that Joe Public can now take a shot of his cat and make it look super-fancy with a few clicks of his smartphone shouldn’t be feared by professional photographers, it should be embraced. It simply means that the bar has been raised when it comes to personal photography, so people will be taking more pictures themselves, yet it doesn’t mean that professional photographers should see any decline in terms of demand.
More people are getting into photography via Instagram, and this obviously means that they are going to be taking more pictures themselves, but this is surely a good thing for everyone involved, including the pros. Did the advent of Garage Band mean that kids stopped listening to professional artists’ music in order to focus on their own? No! The wannabe rockers will have not only downloaded more music to expand their repertoire but also studied the mechanics of songwriting and production through their heroes’ releases. If somebody enjoys taking photographs on Instagram and thus has their curiosity about the world of photography piqued, then they will look to professional photographers for tips, tricks and lessons.
The trick is to offer something that the average Instagram users can’t do themselves and this is where the professional photographers’, well, professionalism comes in, not to mention a little business nous. Professional photographers can be in the vanguard of this contemporary craze by making sure that their work is available for the public to view and purchase. Inkifi allows customers to showcase their best Instagram prints and then sell them directly through the website to any client who would like to buy them. By combining their skill and talent with Instagram’s zeitgeist-esque appeal, these photographers will be seen as the cutting-edge visionaries that embrace technological innovations and build upon them, rather than becoming stuck in the past with fusty attitudes towards progression.
Some professional photographers have raised concerns over the recent ‘Terms & Conditions’ debacle, which purportedly allowed Instagram to sell users’ images to advertisers without their permission. Not only was this not entirely true, CEO Kevin Systrom has made a contrite retraction of the policy (well, as contrite as anyone who got paid $500,000 for a company that he spent a little over a year building can be) and everything seems to be business as usual in the Instagram camp. Photographers can build popular Instagram feeds and update thousands of followers with their latest and greatest work; this free advertising is surely worth a little product placement on Instagram’s behalf, no? Social media sites will always use your information to make money, it’s just the nature of that particular beast; the savvy ones amongst us will use the social media sites to make money themselves and if you can get more back than you put in, well, you’re just a solid gold winner.
So, what does Instagram mean for professional photographers? If utilized correctly, it can mean a new way to promote, advertise and sell a their work, build relationships with other photographers, potential clients and budding camera-jockeys alike. The change isn’t coming, it’s already arrived; however, it’s not too late to jump on the winning side.
This article was originally published on Inkifi, a unique website that allows users to print their Instagram photos onto a variety of canvases, frames and greeting cards; users can also sell their art via the website.