Farewell to Thee, Instagram


I got my first iPhone in January of last year.  Instagram was pretty much the first app I downloaded and I immediately fell in love.  I loved its ability to connect me to others visually and I began to quip in pictures.  I loved the way the images looked on my phone and I was romanced by the filters.  I would get heady when my likes would creep into the double digits.  I shot for myself, but increasingly my steadily growing “audience.” I experimented in ways I was not allowed to for work.  I composited images and dodged and burned and really painted fantastical scenes.  It marked a rebirth of a creativity I thought I’d lost.  It was so easy and stealthy and casual and I photographed the kinds of things I hadn’t shot since I was a student- but I was a better photographer who had long been “too good” to carry a big camera with me everywhere because that’s for when I get paid.  I brought my trained eye to the iphone and Instagram made me fall in love with photography all over again.  It was a true honeymoon.  We were so in love.  Instagram even made me a featured user, bringing me over 14,000 new followers.

For all these reasons, I will be forever grateful to Instagram, but that doesn’t change the fact that I deleted my account this month.


When the controversial new terms of service were announced in December, I paused my posting and sat back to observe the legions of users creating a delightful uproar.  Instagram pretended to capitulate and the storm blew over, but the veil had been lifted from my eyes.  I re-read the original terms of service and they were terrible.  The proposed “compromise” terms were even worse.  The current iteration is a nightmare and Instagram has lost a lot of daily users, but even if they revised the TOS to reflect an ideal situation for the users, they can just change them again.  As someone who advocates for photographers rights loudly and often, I had to put my money where my mouth was.  The company had shown a sad contempt for its users and I couldn’t trust them to do right by us down the line.  I couldn’t keep investing time, love, and potentially copyright in what I realized was a bit of a silly little app that was fine while it lasted, but is ultimately a distraction.  I took a closer look at my Instagram archive and realized that the files are tiny and look like total shit outside of the screen of a smartphone, especially when compared with the files of my professional camera.  While Instagram had led me to a creative rebirth, it was a toy and I was an adult.  Time to put away toys and get to work.


I made a New Year’s resolution to take my real camera with me everywhere.  So far, I have.  I haven’t made many pictures yet, and I’m still not used to the extra weight during a trip to the grocery store or a night on the town, but I feel like it’s the right thing to do.  I have infinitely more control- over the technical aspects of making the photo as well as my distribution channels.  I miss the camaraderie of the app, but who am I kidding?  I’ve always been a loner.  Now it’s just me, a dslr with a pancake lens, and the open road.  I’ll drop in here occasionally to share.


This is the largest photo post I will ever make on this blog.  I wanted an online home for some of my favorite Instagram pictures and I couldn’t narrow it down past 80.  There were over 300 in the archive, but I found myself particularly drawn to the moments.  These aren’t my most filtered pictures by a longshot.  While there are a few composites in the mix, I was surprised to see that my preference still leaned toward content over style.  Sadly, I regret that so many of these moments would have been better-served by shooting them with a better camera.

2012-01-17_1326841814 2012-01-17_1326842643 2012-01-18_1326918732 2012-01-20_1327038656 2012-01-20_1327100400 2012-01-20_1327100730 2012-01-31_1328038567 2012-02-06_1328540376 2012-02-10_1328889595 2012-02-26_1330297720 2012-03-13_1331652457 2012-03-19_1332125107 2012-03-21_1332371341 2012-03-27_1332886104 2012-03-28_1332958477 2012-04-07_1333775465 2012-04-14_1334445117 2012-04-15_1334474142 2012-04-18_1334781557 2012-04-28_1335656147 2012-05-10_1336673299 2012-05-11_1336777262 2012-05-11_1336777816 2012-05-16_1337134348 2012-05-16_1337146261 2012-05-22_1337687088 2012-05-22_1337709571 2012-05-22_1337713011 2012-05-26_1338065219 2012-06-08_1339167256 2012-06-09_1339278200 2012-06-09_1339284293 2012-06-10_1339321755 2012-06-21_1340238792 2012-06-28_1340899931 2012-06-29_1340934905 2012-06-29_1341005438 2012-07-06_1341543547 2012-07-10_1341932278 2012-07-10_1341961057 2012-07-11_1341977653 2012-07-19_1342723714 2012-07-20_1342808696 2012-07-21_1342889701 2012-07-25_1343193660 2012-07-27_1343402805 2012-07-28_1343456259 2012-07-30_1343624864 2012-07-30_1343688157 2012-07-31_1343750640 2012-08-01_1343782746 2012-08-02_1343883184 2012-08-12_1344808049 2012-08-17_1345221264 2012-08-27_1346043150 2012-09-12_1347428927 2012-09-12_1347429146 2012-09-16_1347827370 2012-09-18_1347951828 2012-09-20_1348122334 2012-09-20_1348122467 2012-09-28_1348875506 2012-09-28_1348875899 2012-09-29_1348921339 2012-10-06_1349561623 2012-10-11_1349978502 2012-10-16_1350407825 2012-10-17_1350456525 2012-11-02_1351841619 2012-11-02_1351843220 2012-11-02_1351878405 2012-11-04_1352066256 2012-11-06_1352179106 2012-11-09_1352489509 2012-11-10_1352576589 2012-11-13_1352770077 2012-11-27_1354040886 2012-12-06_1354765759 2012-12-07_1354913694 2012-12-12_1355279182 2012-12-12_1355344179 2012-12-14_1355458950 2012-12-17_1355712796

6 thoughts on “Farewell to Thee, Instagram

  1. I agree with the thought of divorcing Instagram. After their terms of service update I thought a trial separation was needed. I’m doing ok without it. Just weighing what I’ll lose in the divorce if I do decide to go ahead with those proceedings.

  2. Thank you for this – I’d been caught in a similar debate, having found a rebirth of creativity in the convenience and community if instagram. However, I used to carry my “real” camera everywhere, and the images I can create with it have far more potential than a few dozen “likes” from low-res viewers. I went ahead and turned my archive of instagram photos into a blurb book – easily integrated and now something I can enjoy for the sake of those snapshot moments. Having determined that the terms of service are not in favor of any serious photographer, I have to agree with your decision to part ways with instagram, and I’ll be closing my account too.

  3. I carry my camera with me everywhere, for the most part, but I don’t seek opportunities to photograph. I have found they (photo opportunities) find me on occasion and I am glad I had my camera at hand.

    I do have an Instagram account, but my children use my phone to shoot hundreds of photos of themselves to share, so I don’t use my account.


  4. I decided shortly after I got my first SLR to carry my camera on me at all times as I never knew what I might find. It probably helped that I was travelling through Europe at the time so had an excuse. When I got back home, I went and purchased a sling strap and never leave the house without it. Now instead of feeling weird carrying it, it’s distinctly unnerving if I don’t have it on.

    If size/weight is a bit much consider getting a mirrorless like micro four thirds. The quality has gotten really good finally, and they generally draw less attention.

    Love your work by the way, I look forward to seeing what you produce with a proper camera out and about.

  5. Hi Melissa,
    I admire your work, but I’m happy to hear you’ve left Instagram. I believe Instagram’s success has trivialized the art of photography. Peace, Eli

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