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Has Photography Lost its Meaning in the Age of Instagram and Social Media?

Evanna Kapos provides an enlightening two sided debate, as to whether social media is enhancing or destroying talented photography.

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It is completely understandable that the format of photography has been gradually transformed and shaped by the rise of social media applications and Instagram.

Photographers such as Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz and Vivian Dorothy Maier, the latter being the most recent to have their first pieces published as they were found posthumously in 2007, are known for the vivacity of their works. There is something almost cinematographic about their pieces, something which, with the rise of our constantly increasing love of films and social media, we are becoming more appreciative of, rather than less.

with the rise of our constantly increasing love of films and social media, we are becoming more appreciative of photography, rather than less

It is true that with Instagram, almost everyone we know (save your technologically impaired Aunt maybe) has the ability to post pictures which they have taken. But to claim that this represents the craft of photography is entirely wrong. The difference between true photography and the majority of pictures across the internet is self-evident.

Instagram photos present the photographer in every photo. Even when they are not personally in the photo, they may as well be. Even the format of Instagram, with photos presented together in a line, makes one photo bleed into the next like a collage, so that we are unable to separate our judgements of individual photos. Galleries and printed pieces simply don’t have this quality to such a level. With a shudder, we hear ourselves utter the words, ‘my Instagram feed aesthetic is finally right’. Our ‘aesthetic’ finally matches our personal ‘vibe’.

Yet Instagram and social media has bred a new generation of photographers, all gifted

True photography, however, is the world itself truthfully viewed through the camera. The camera seeks to understand the world around itself in an original, authentic way. Similar to all other art, it seeks simply to understand, and tell truths. Instagram and social media often seeks to deceive; to highlight the best. Yet Instagram and social media has bred a new generation of photographers, all gifted, and we have yet to see how they will save true photography, or transform it into a different beast altogether. Print is often no longer open to them in the way that photographers such as Annie Liebovitz still enjoy it.

the camera…seeks simply to understand, and tell truths. Instagram and social media often seeks to deceive; to highlight the best

Have a look online for Ben Brown, at @mrbenbrown, Antoine Truchet at @antoinetruchet, Edgar Dubrovskiy at @edgardubrovskiy and @humansofny. Ben Brown, for example, gains knowledge of his pieces through creating desktop wallpapers and youtube videos and films, rather than going through established routes, or magazines and newspapers. Yet within this new wave of photographers, some of the old spirit emerges. The founder of @humansofny, Brandon Stanton, doesn’t even have his own name in his Instagram title or description. Instead, his entire focus is on his subjects and their stories. Go check out his pieces, each of which may never have been possible without the rise of Instagram.

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