Does Instagram really make your photos better? If you’re shooting them with the crappy camera in the original iPhone – for which the app’s grungy filters were designed – then the answer is yes. But what about the iPhone 4S, or any other camera – even film?
Allen Murabayashi decided to find out. He grabbed a handful of famous images from the web and ran them through everybody’s favorite photo grungifier. From Neil Leifer’s iconic 1965 shot of Ali vs Liston through Steve McCurry’s Kodachrome-tastic Afghan Girl to a shot from the royal wedding, all of them suffer from being Instagrammed.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t be muddying up your pictures like this? Nah. Of course not. For a start, none of these photos were shot for Instagram, and only one of them (Ali vs Liston) was originally square. If you shoot with the shape and filters in mind, then Instagram can give you great results.
On the other hand, filters can be gimmicky. Much as we can look back at photos shot in the 1980s and laugh at the ridiculous overuse of the “tobacco grad,” a graduated orangey-brown filter that was used to add an old-timey look to skies and landscapes, so we will look at the pictures of the current era and laugh at the tacky effects.
I love Instagram, but I do worry that much of what it does is aimed at recreating a romantic notion of film. Grain, lightleaks and incorrect exposures were all bugs in film, not features. And ironically, the modern equivalents like noise and blown-out highlights are all reviled, not embraced.
Maybe in ten years time we’ll all be adding these to our perfect digital photos instead?