Ever since I’ve had an iPhone, I’ve been using its camera and extensive storage as a sort of memo-book, documenting through thousands of images the things I want to remember, or need to tend to, or just simply to hoard as a memory (I go through phases of hoarding various things. This one too will pass). As I sat nursing my son one afternoon not long after we moved to an old farmhouse in Wexford, phone in my hand, I accidently scrolled back to a series of images of the job I’d lost.
Shelves, boxes, stores, objects, archives, drawers. Jobs in course of arrangement. Everything I’d had to walk away from.
I scrolled away quickly from the office photos to my other images, and wondered if there was something I could do with any of them. I remembered a photographs App that my friend Mary had told me about. She’d said that I would like it.
Instagram is a distinctive, simple and beautifully designed photo editing and sharing application (App) that makes attractive and interesting photographs amazing. It’s currently only available – free – for smartphones like iPhone and Android, because of its concept of instant capture, like an old polaroid. I’d known that it was a photo editing platform, with a select number of beautiful filters to render photographs, but I hadn’t known about sharing. I soon found my friend Mary and was blown away by her images. I saw that I could “like” her images by double-tapping them on my iPhone screen. Tap-tap, tap-tap. Hundreds of other people had “liked” her photos too. Mary is an Instagram hotshot (find her amazing gallery under her Instagram handle @sheckamecka). I began to follow people too, and they followed me back. I uploaded some photos and they “liked” them and left comments.
So Instagram is another social networking platform, I realised. But through beautiful, and often-times breath-taking photographs.
This was fun!
I’m not a photographer; but with a device in my hand all day that takes reasonably good quality photographs, I can record a moment in an instant, right when it happens. Like the time we were still moving out of our house in Dublin, and a walk back from the shops turned up the shot above with my kids and our yellow Bugaboo Bee chariot. Very soon I found myself actively seeking new adventures, phone in hand, to see what I could discover that day for Instagram; whether it’s walking through cornfields, or town, or visiting archaeological ruins with my family. Despite a Summer full of rain, I was there to get freckles when the sun did shine.
In an Irish Times article Instagram: Picture perfect or photo fad? Una Mullally interviewed Frank Millar, who said he was unconvinced. What was he waiting to be convinced about, I wondered? Instagram is full of wildly differing delights for every individual user. I’ve found a whole community of people taking photographs of doors. How ever would I have known I loved to snap and see glorious doors if it weren’t for Instagram – and if I had known, what better outlet for it? Now, with a child on my hip, and my iPhone in hand, on every trip to town I seek urban doorways to share with my new door-loving friends. In return, I discovered I love getting surprised by other people’s photographs of great big American barns.
The following is my corn series.
First it was shiny and green.
Then the corn turned golden, and was finally cut at the start of September. It feels like an official end to our Summer. In the last image, my daughter contemplates her first day at school. This time last year we had no idea she would be attending a country school in Wexford.
Quite the reverse of Una Mullally’s claim that “Instagram also makes photography truly disposable and utterly transient”, I’ve found myself taking the trouble to print out and properly archive photographs for the first time in years, almost since I first owned a digital camera. I know too that professional photographers are finding their love of photography renewed through their use of it.
Some of the people I follow, or who follow me, don’t speak the same language, but it doesn’t matter. It’s like a world without or before linguistics. Communicating by commenting and leaving feedback on images is certainly part of the fun – even just by using wordless emoticons – but it’s almost peripheral too, to the experience of getting to observe and share in other people’s universes, which so many of them represent with enormous beauty.
Marshall McLuhan refers to “the power that is in all media to reshape the lives that they touch” (Understanding Media: Extensions of Man). I didn’t reckon on a smartphone app being of assistance this past Summer while I grappled with new circumstances, but it has played a part. With Instagram, there is an opportunity to winnow out the sinister and irrelevant from what is beautiful and excellent in my day. More than any other electronic social media community I know, Instagram is instantly positive: using it can make for beautiful socialising, communicating, learning, thinking, and knowing.
My Instagram gallery can be seen online at http://instagram.com/adriennecorless
OTHER PHOTO APPS
I bought the Snapseed app on the recommendation of another Instagram user. It allows me to straighten slightly askew shots, or adjust the brightness or contrast and enhance the colour. It also has its own range of filters, but I prefer the simple, quickly accessible range that Instagram (which is free) provides. I use Dyptic on my iPhone to create small collages like the ones above.