An Explosion Called Instagram

I’ve been very interested in photography for many years and, like the rest of the world, have been phototaking exponentially more photos every year. One reason is that the quality of the cameras on mobile phones has improved so much over the last few years; Another is the fact that new photography apps just keep coming, making experimenting with images fresh and engaging.

The Instagram Effect

I’m always looking for ways to take better photos with my iPhone, and I recently ran across a 24-minute mini-documentary named Instagram Is. The video is basically a series of interviews with users of the app, each defining what Instagram means to them.

I’ve dabbled with Instagram and always considered its main purpose to be applying filters to photos – filters that can make mundane photography more interesting. One message that the video clearly delivers is that the images alone are not the reason that Instagram has grown over 500% in less than a year. The app’s creators said in a recent interview that Instagram is not about photography so much as “communicating a moment (to someone). It just happens to be an image…It’s about more than that. It’s about communicating a message.”

So it is widely agreed: the primary draw of Instagram is sharing image creations with the community of 100 million active users that has grown up around the app. In the aforementioned video the subjects share how their relationships have grown stronger, how they’ve been inspired and how their  lives have changed for the better through Instagram. This app is really inspiring folks to get out in the world, take note of their surroundings and share what they are seeing in creative ways.

A Social Brand

Not only are individuals flocking to the app, so are brands. Instagram has shown the most growth of any social network for brands this quarter, beating out both Pinterest and Google+ by substantial margins. The app hopes to maintain that momentum through enhancements to the community experience. Again the focus is on community, not photography.

As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Instagram is proving that sharing that picture may be worth even more than that.