The State of Instagram / by Faizal Westcott

Instagram first launched in 2010. One could say it really began to take off in 2012/2013 as one of the most popular social media apps alongside the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Now, eight years later, Instagram is currently the fastest growing social media platform in the world, passing Twitter and securing 3rd place as the most used social media behind Facebook and YouTube according to PewResearchCenter. Instagram was originally designed as a photo sharing platform where users could share what they were doing in the present moment by taking a photo with the in-app camera and then posting directly to their profile where people who follow them could see and interact. This is still the case today but it has expanded to much more than just that. Today, Instagram is used by businesses, professional sports teams, and public figures as a means to build their brand presence in an ever-changing market. Amongst the rapid growth, there has been an influx of artists using it as a platform to share their artwork online: many of which are photographers. Staying true to what Instagram was originally intended to be, the photography community on Instagram is still growing strong and has greatly influenced many users of the platform to pick up a camera. 

I wasn't one of those people. 

For me, photography started in 2007 when my dad offered me his camera to take photos during our trip to Indonesia. I was always fascinated by my dad's interest in photography. That influenced me a considerable amount. My dad had been taking photos for a very long time and even considered making it a profession had his mother not told him to pursue something else. Back then that may have been the right choice. But today, social media is changing the landscape for photographers and artists alike.

Flash forward to 2013; many of my friends had been on my ass telling me to make an Instagram account, but I would frequently deny their invitation because I wasn't "into social media" (so woke for a fifteen-year-old). That quickly changed when I finally conceded to the constant bombardment and created an account in 2014. Shortly after, my friends got sick of my baby photos and were on my ass again telling me to now post my photography. You could say I haven't looked back since

At this point in time, I have a strong love/hate relationship with Instagram. It has given me a tremendous amount of leverage and convenience to showcase my photography to a large audience at almost an instantaneous rate. But at the same time, it has opened my eyes to the shortcomings of such a platform and how relying on it as a means to improve artistic growth or get business is not as faithful as one would have originally thought. There are ups and downs, but to say the least, Instagram has and will continue to have an influence on creatives (like myself) as long as they continue to use it. This blog will explore how Instagram affects the way photographers create in this digitized world of social media.