Monday, September 21, 2015

Instagram and iPhone for Daily Photography

'Chinatown 2014' taken entirely with iPhone 5S

To start off, I'm very sorry for not updating my blog in such a long time. Many of you who have followed me for the past few years know that I've used this blog as my primary means to review cameras and share my photographic thoughts. I will still continue to do so on a redesigned website that will be cleaner and easier to navigate. I have also started posting most of my reviews on YouTube so check it out if you haven't already done so. Eventually my YouTube reviews will be released at the same time as my written reviews with images, but that won't be for a few months yet.

In this very quick article, I want to talk about Instagram as a serious platform for sharing images. I know Flick'r has long been the king for us photo nerds to share and consume images, but here's a few compelling reasons why I use Instagram as my professional portfolio for my photography:

The platform is easier to consume because of it's 'feed' and the fact it uses a smartphone platform

I like the idea of waking up in the morning and looking through my feed of everyone I follow who create visually appealing content for me to consume. I like the fact that I don't have to pixel peak or focus on what camera they used to take the picture. All I care about is if the image moves me, inspires me, or makes me jealous because I didn't think of it first!! The fact that my smartphone is always with me allows me to check out my feed anytime of the day, whenever I feel like being inspired. And this principle works in reverse. Many people who wish to consume visually compelling images don't crawl through Flick'r to find great accounts to follow. The fact that Instagram has over 300 million active users (more than Twitter) allows a larger non-photography audience to find your feed and enjoy what you create. Not that its a numbers game, but we do take pictures to share with others don't we (at least most of us)?

'Impromptu Portraits' 2014. Taken with iPhone 5S

Many creatives are using it to share their visual arts, not just photographers

If you look at my Instagram account you will see that most of the people I follow are not photographers in the traditional sense. They don't really care about equipment, they weren't schooled in photography, or even really care about any of the 'rules' of photography. Many of them have never owned a 'real' camera, and yet they create amazing images, often with only their smartphones. These are some of my favourite creatives on Instagram at this time:

@Leilalikes is a graphic designer who has a passion for food photography
@streetamatic is a DC photographer who plays with shadows
@chiliphilly loves to knit hats that look like food
@phraction... what can I say about Ryan Tacay. Just check him out
@meghanmaconochie this creative uses pencil crayon shavings to make art. Insane!!

No, most of these creatives are not photographers, but who cares? They blow my mind and make me want to take better pictures and influences me in ways that many competent photographers can't. Instead of arguing over which camera or lens is better, Instagram promotes and celebrates creativity, and you can see it. It's palatable, and it's visually yummy!

Fast to take a picture, post process and post, all from within a smartphone

Sometimes the best way to test someone's creative prowess is by forcing them to be prolific. You can take 10,000 pictures and post your top 10 images, and you can look like a hero. In fact, those pictures can be over a 20-30 year career. Try posting a great image a couple times a day. Sure you can save up a few pictures here and there, but you have to be consistent while still being creative and keep up your style. This is harder than it sounds. Many great photographers and powerful brands have awful Instagram feeds. I'm not saying they aren't great photographers, but I don't think they present their feed in a way that showcases their creativity in a spontaneous and/or prolific manner. Not every Instagrammer follows this philosophy (some use film cameras, some only post once a week, some only use the smartphone to upload the images only), but in general, this is a run-and-gun style photographic showcase. It's like a backdoor view into your creative process.

Level Playing Field

It doesn't matter if you shoot with a Leica M240 and a 50mm Noctilux or an iPhone 5, the images are judged on content. Many can not believe that 95% of my images are taken with my iPhone on Instagram because people have been conditioned to think that good camera means good pictures. Because I review many cameras, I can tell you that no matter how spec'd out a camera is, if the ergonomics or functions are irritating or counter-intuitive, I struggle to make a great image. Sure the image may be sharp, the white balance perfect, and the IQ amazing, but the image falls flat. On Instagram, not many care about what you use to create an image, but how you choose to use it. I love this. No more arguing over which lens is sharper, or which sensor has better dynamic range, etc. I'm not saying there isn't a time or place for these things, but on Instagram the image stands on its own.


Instagram has changed my photography. It's made me more creative, and I've implemented many of my 'instant' IG ideas into my 'real' photography for my reviews. When I look at my IG feed and my camera review images on my blog, I prefer my IG images more. I can tell the difference in creative freedom, can you? I challenge everyone to create a professional portfolio on Instagram and try something new that you would never risk on a commercial shoot, on Flick'r, etc. Would I have done a #shoesandcameras project without IG Probably not. How about #mirroreffectmonday? Nope. I currently have over 5 accounts, 3 of which are active and public:


Most creative ideas come from random thoughts, random things happening around us, and at random times. By the time you run home and grab your camera, the idea is lost or watered down. With my smart phone and a few simple post processing apps, I can get that creative thought immediately and post it right away. I challenge everyone to use a single IG account to experiment, to pursue mini projects, or collaborate with other photographers using common hashtags or communal accounts. I'll write more articles on Instagram, as well as share ideas, how to's, what apps I use, etc. Until then, happy shooting!

'My Camera Gear' 2014-2015 take with iPhone 5S


  1. HI, I can't find how to contact you so I'll just ask on here :) . I live on Vancouver Island and I was wondering if you know any good used camera stores in Vancouver that may have some canon fd lenses. Thanks a bunch. I watch your youtube videos all the time. Good stuff.

    1. I think you found me, but for those looking here, these are the best places in town:

      Leo's Camera Supply
      Kerrisdale Cameras (multiple locations)
      Beau Photo

      The very best to find good used camera equipment is actually Craig's List, but please use common sense. If its too good to be true, it probably is. If it seems stolen, just walk away. If the item gets tracked back to you and the serial numbers match, you're out the equipment and the cash. Always meet in a public place like a Starbucks or McDonalds. Bring a friend if possible. Always deal in cash, and both count out the money openly so there's no arguing after.

      I hope this helps.

  2. Hi!

    I recently watched your YouTube video: Bigheadtaco Photowalk with Tarry G . Great video! I'm in Vancouver and am wondering about the locations of those great alleys. There used to be lots of beautiful alleys in Vancouver, but most have been painted over. Exactly where were you? Thanks!

    1. That alley is right next Revolver Coffee in Downtown. You can google "Revolver Coffee" for the exact address.

  3. I predict this post won't be popular with some gear heads, but I totally agree with you. Flickr is dead, and Instagram has been the place to be for photographers/creatives for some time now. Have you ever seen @renhangrenhang's work? Hands down my favourite account right now.

    1. wow, sorry for this late reply. I use Blogger, and it isn't a great platform for what I'm trying to do. Yes I know of Ren Hang's work. Like many serious visual artists, they've taken to Instagram as the platform to use to reach as many people as possible, and that's great. Thanks for your comment.


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