12 October 2010


A New Generation of Photographers


As most of you will know, over the last week or so, the new Instagram photo app has exploded onto the web (well, the iPhone to be more precise). I don’t want to exaggerate, but I think it’s the best thing to happen to photography since the invention of the camera!

What does it do?

It’s such a simple idea. You take a picture, or select one from your library and then apply one of the eleven available filters on offer to your picture. They’re generally retro style filters that make your photos look like they were taken thirty years ago. You can use it in conjunction with other iPhone photo apps to create some fun and sometimes stunning results. Give your picture a title, location and post it to the social network of your choice – Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr or Foursquare.

It also has all the usual characteristics you would expect from any modern social app – you can follow, be followed, comment on pictures, like pictures and the community is already amazingly active. To top it off the the app looks and works beautifully.


What makes it so great?

I love the fact that this app brings photography to the people. You don’t need a giant SLR and loads of time to process your pictures. This app allows everyone enjoy photography. Instagram has rekindled my interest in taking pictures and for people new to photography it shows what can be achieved with a camera and some creative processing.

Instagram is an app that brings out the creativity in everyone, which can only be a good thing.

Is it cheating?

The short answer is no. Well, maybe a tiny bit. Only in that you don’t do the post processing yourself. However, you still have to choose an interesting subject, think about the lighting and compose it creatively. I’ve long been a believer that a good photograph is 99% the person behind the camera. The filters will seduce your eyes momentarily but it in the end it’s easy to see which are the really great pictures.

Get snapping!

Instagram has caught the imagination of almost everyone I know, so if you haven’t already got it, get it! If you’re not already into photography, you soon will be. You can download Instagram for free from the app store now.

The photos in this post are my efforts (mikekus on Instagram). There are loads of great pictures to be seen on Instagram.


  1. Wez Maynard

    12 October 2010 | 9:26 am

    Agree with the sentiment, but there’s no substituting a lomo cam and some vintage film. App’s like these are riding high on the crest of a hipster wave.

  2. Martin Lucas

    12 October 2010 | 9:32 am

    I’m enjoying the app as well – username martinlucas – it’s very similar to Hipstamatic in terms of the results, but with the social sharing it’s added something very addictive.

    The only issue I have is finding people to follow, it doesn’t seem to pick up all the people who I’m following on Twitter and there’s no way of sharing your account via a vanity style /username.

  3. David Hellmann

    12 October 2010 | 9:33 am

    i’m using camera+ (actually banned from the appstore) and i love it so much. all my other mobilephones like nokia has a camera but i use they not. With the iPhone it was changed.

  4. Dennis Coughlin

    12 October 2010 | 9:36 am

    Absolutely agree Mike. This line is hilarious & true:

    “I don’t want to exaggerate, but I think it’s the best thing to happen to photography since the invention of the camera!”

    This is the type of photographs I’ve always wanted to take; spur of the moment, hassle free processing and easy to post.

    And in the interest of sharing, here’s a “Scottish Coast” picture I posted the other day.


    I’m “Dennis” on Instagram.


  5. Sam Hardacre

    12 October 2010 | 9:36 am

    Great post Mike. I love the filters, although I tend to gravitate towards Earlybird for most shots.

    I’ve also been using Hipstamatic for photos. Very similar results to Instagram but without the social aspect.

  6. Ben Smithett

    12 October 2010 | 10:07 am

    I’m going to sound like a bit of a hater here, but the most surprising thing for me about Instagram is that it’s taken so long for a lomo photo app to explode like this on iPhone. I got sick of these photo effects on my Android apps (Vignette, FXCamera, etc) a year ago.

    A comment on the social aspect: I don’t have the app, I sadly don’t have an iPhone. The social features of Instagram sound awesome, I wish I could try them out.

    That said, the constant stream of Instagram tweets has made Twitter suck this past week. There are only so many “mundane object photographed with a cool filter” photos you can look at before the novelty wears off.

    The problem I have here is the same problem I had with the constant stream of Gowalla & Foursquare tweets a few months back. It’s probably the same problem my friends had when I first discovered Twitter, and started sending all my tweets to Facebook as status updates.

    If you want to participate in a certain social network, do you really need to duplicate all your activity from that network in another? Anyone interested will be friends/following you in the appropriate app. If they’re following you in both, they’re getting duplicate content they’ve already seen. If they’re not, they probably don’t want to and you’re just adding unwelcome noise.

    END RANT (the new site is awesome Mike!)

  7. Matt Simon

    12 October 2010 | 11:46 am

    I just got this app and it has actually made me take photos again on my iphone, something that I hadn’t regularly done for ages. The social networking functionality is a real winner.

    Maybe you’ll get some angry photographers saying it’s dumb and it’s fake but what the hell…it’s fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that in my book.

    Peace, Matt

  8. Mike Kus

    12 October 2010 | 12:51 pm

    Thanks for your comments guys!

    I think there’s something I missed from the article.

    I think one of the best things about this app is the social aspect of it. It’s the fact you can share your photographs instantly that makes it exciting and addictive. There are definitely more sophisticated photo apps out there but without the community they’re just not as much fun.

    I think this says something about photography itself. Your far more likely to want to take pictures when there are people to share them with… and that’s why Instagram has really hits the mark.

  9. Scott Barrett

    12 October 2010 | 2:47 pm

    I think the “purists” will hate it no matter how you spin it but, like you, I love it and have seen some wonderful images being shared.

    Good article, Mike.

  10. Amy Sly

    12 October 2010 | 3:38 pm

    With a quality camera always at hand people will shoot more, improve their eye, and more easily share their images. How is that not an advancement for photography?

    I’m sure purists criticized the Brownie, which revolutionized photography by making it affordable for the public, for not having the purity of a plate glass negative. But just because the medium has changed, doesn’t mean the images are any less valuable.

    Thanks for the nice article!

  11. Narshada

    13 October 2010 | 11:26 pm

    I agree – to me it’s like a fantastic blend of Twitter, Flickr and Hipstamatic.
    There will always be snobs in any arena, ready to lambast the newest thing, often because they fear change, but equally there will also always be those who fall in love with the new idea and run with it.
    I’ve ‘liked’ several of your pics so far, and as you say, no amount of filters can remedy a badly composed or framed shot, which sadly, has already seen some evidence posted on instagram (I won’t name usernames!).
    Nice to see some shots from my neck of the woods too! (SW UK.)

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  13. Tim Peckham

    17 October 2010 | 10:41 pm

    I just love it.
    It will go far.
    username: peckham

  14. fenderbirds

    18 October 2010 | 5:38 pm

    nice article, keep the posts coming

  15. roclafamilia

    21 October 2010 | 10:38 am

    Helpful blog, bookmarked the website with hopes to read more!

  16. alanvitek

    16 November 2010 | 3:26 am

    i guess i am kind of a “purist” and i typically do hate things like this.

    i could spend hours outside with my camera, and hours more inside with tired eyes staring at photoshop and still not have blurry enough focal ranges, or blown out colors.

    it def is a trend, but it will more than likely be around for a while, hipster or not. personally, i see the hipsters hating it more and more now because the “mainstream” is catching on to the whole lomo thing, albeit digitally.

    haha oh well. hats off to people who can make an app that makes money :D

  17. Kyle

    07 December 2010 | 5:05 am

    What a fun app. I’ve recently traded Hipstamatic in for this one.

    SN: khyams

  18. Dimitris Karathanos

    07 February 2011 | 4:01 pm

    Best of lucks with the February instameet. I’ve enjoyed very much reading your text, as well as browsing through the rest of the website.
    I’ve also emailed you about another project of mine regarding instagram.

  19. Carmel Devey

    07 September 2011 | 11:18 am

    There’s clearly a lot to know about this. I believe you created some good points in Functions also.
    Keep working , terrific job!

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