The Sins of Instagram

Confession. I really, really, reallly dislike Instagram.

Sure it's quick, and it's easy, and you can share the photos with the world in seconds. And you don't need to drag an enormous camera around. You can snap life with your iPhone while on the run. But the quality of the photos is so depressing.

When there is so much colour in the world, why would somebody create something that bleaches or sepiarises life? It doesn't make sense. Even the brighter photos have a kind of washed-out feel to them. It's the filters. They're designed to make everyone look like a great photographer but the irony is that all the photos are starting to look the same.

Gauguin and Monet and Van Gogh laboured for years and cut off their ears to show us the beauty in blues, greens and bright, sunflower yellows. Yves Klein created his famous reputation by capturing the joy of the infinite in an ultramarine, lapis lazuli-style pigment now known as International Klein Blue (IKB). While Jackson Pollock spent much of his life in seclusion in the Hamptons, trying to perfect the beauty of his fantastic, multi-coloured messes canvases. So why are we resorting to filtering our life down to browns and greys? (And I bet Oscar de la Renta and Valentino didn't use Instagram to inspire them for their palettes. Why would they, when there is so much inspiration in bright shades?)


Instagram is a gimmick, a tease, an invention designed to make us nostalgic for old 1970's polaroids and faded happy snaps from our glory days. We're sharing our lives on it, but are the photos really doing our lives justice?

I don't know about you but I can't look at any more brown sunsets. I can take any more dull, muddy-coloured scenes. Forgive me while I go and take a photo of a spring flower in full bloom, so I can remember the heady sight of natural, unadulterated colour for once.

I suspect Instagram, like many other things, won't be around for long. And I fear for all those people who have taken photos with it. Their computer archives will be full of muted scenes that, in years to come, will seem devoid of energy and life. (NB These photos of Paris are mine; I've bleached them to make them look Instagramish for the purposes of this post. The original ones are much prettier. I don't use Instagram. It's the devil's work, as Miss Faux Fuchsia would say.)

Please don't forget the joy of real colour. Pack a tiny Leica or Panasonica DMZ in your handbag and use that instead. If you can find room for a mobile or cell phone, you can always have a camera in a spare pocket of your bag. The photos from a camera taken without a filter, without a phone, without some nifty Instagramesque influence, will look far more beautiful in years to come. Believe me.


As a quick PS, my niece Alex is studying styling at RMIT University in Melbourne. (Who knew there was a degree in it?) She's asked me to help her with a project this week, so I've been practising beforehand, with a 'faux project' based around the theme of colour. (Just like we did at university all those years ago.) Here are some poor attempts, which Alex will no doubt laugh at. But don't you just love the colours?

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