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.why I heart Instagram


I am in love with this app called Instagram. It’s got a bad rap for breaking your phone images down into goo with hardly any information left. However, I’ve made a book of all Instagram images from our staycation on the boat last summer because I took so many fun images with my iPhone. I only pulled out the SLR for special visits to “Big Kid Beach,” when we sailed to Catalina and to greet the Polynesian Outriggers coming in to Dana Point Harbor. I have also made great little deep matte prints of many of my favorite family and art images that are going onto an Instagram wall that I saw on Pinterest.  What I like about Instagram beyond just taking iPhone images is that it gives me the ability to enhance the images with filters that open up the shadows and warm up the overall image. I don’t like most of the extreme filters. It helps if they work well with the style of image you made. I hate the fake borders. I am so glad that you can now turn them off. And I always save the original image unmodified by Instagram *just in case.*

A lot of these memories I wouldn’t have if I didn’t have my iPhone with me everywhere I go. Chase Jarvis coined the term “The best camera is the one that’s with you” and that’s how I feel about my experience with my iPhone. It reminds me of my little 126 camera I used to have when I was a young girl. Fast and easy. When I go back through my iPhone images, I see real life happening-events that weren’t significant enough to have my SLR along but amazing memories nonetheless. Even if I did have my SLR with me, I pulled out the iPhone during some of the more quiet moments. Almost all of these images are spontaneous-after much observation. I saw something happening in slow motion: a moment where I am a fly on the wall. Then when I see something I like, I barely have enough time to open the camera app on the phone and click the shutter. I like this feeling of “getting the shot.” It’s like a pursuit for the decisive moment. I rarely set something up for the iPhone images. That’s why I love the feel of them so much. It’s a risky business though. I have had my iPhone caked with donut icing, fall off the top seat of the bleachers at a swim meet, almost get soaked by a crashing wave, and it usually comes home covered with sand.

When I was first inspired in photography, it was street photography by Bresson, Brassai, Hine and Strand who had a huge influence on my early work. It blows me away that the earlier street photographers were working with 4×5 Graflex cameras and had to load sheets of film ahead of time. Their street savvy and spontaneous images are amazing beyond words. I have done my own street photography with 35mm and 120 film cameras but for some reason it seems weird to do it with a DSLR?!

I do feel that slowing down to see the moment that is happening in front of you no matter what type of photography you are doing is an important way to improve your photography. I go into this in more detail in my upcoming springtime LOUPE Photography Workshop.

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” Edward Steichen


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