[Instagram photo no. 2]
I think back to the times when having a roll of film developed and printed involved a great deal of expense and faff, not to mention the high probability of failure/glare/blur in the photos that came back, and I wonder how anyone can be sniffy about the wonders of phone cameras, Hipstamatic, and Instagram. I have just taken my first Instagram pics and I know that the younger me would have loved to play with this app on a phone, to be able to delete rubbish photos, to take multiple shots, to learn through practice, as opposed to having 24 photos to last a two-week holiday or an entire summer.
[Instagram photo no. 5]
I listened to the recent discussion on Radio 4's Front Row about the newly refurbished and now re-opened Photographers' Gallery, and it goes without saying that someone mentioned the truism that 'we are all photographers now'. But what they didn't say is that while this may be true, it deosn't necessarily mean we are all good photographers now. There is still a place for brilliant, challenging, supremely talented photographers who will always rise above the camera phone/Boots' snaps level and create timeless images.
But for everyone else, access to cheap, easy, workable cameras and apps is a gift than enhances daily life. It doesn't turn us all into artists, but it gives us the chance to look, observe, record our lives and world in a way that we couldn't have done a few years ago. I am constantly amazed by the quality of so much amateur photography on the internet; it's an amazing, endless, colourful, inspirational exhibition of images.
Yesterday evening, I took my first Instagram photos. I hadn't realised how different this app is to Hipstamatic. It's incredibly simple and straightforward (and the centre of the picture you have in the viewfinder appears in the centre of the photo, unlike the problems of distortion that happen with Hipstamatic). It's easy to use, has lots of options, and has the capacity to generate a number and quality of photos we could only have dreamed about when we were using little Kodak Instamatics. Sometimes it's too easy to forget how far we have come, and to take things for granted: cheap flights, Google, modern quilting fabric, fresh coriander in supermarkets, core ice creams, and digital photography.