App of the week: The world through an Instagram lens


Since its debut in 2010, Instagram has more than 40 million users. According to Mashable, Instagram gains a new user every second, and more than one billion photos have been taken on the app, averaging to about 58 photos per second.

Instagram is bringing the photography and mobile world together. In fact, Mashable reported taking photos is the third most common creation on university students’ smartphones, just under sending texts and emails.

Brendan McLeod, a senior from Las Vegas majoring in history, joined Instagram over a year ago as a way to easily share photos with his friends on Facebook and Twitter.

“A picture is worth a thousand words and Twitter only gives you 140 [characters],” he said. “Why say it when you can show it?”

Social media professionals are also finding it useful. Brendan Lowry, marketing manager at Curalate in Philadelphia, works extensively with visual social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. He uses Instagram as a creative outlet, also connecting with friends and family.

“I’ve always been a fan of photography,” Lowry said. “Instagram allows me to continue this hobby in a much more casual way, while also adding a light-weight social layer.”

Lowry said although many people are using the app, he doesn’t see it making a significant change to the photography industry. Instagram is mainly a social tool. But what do professional photographers think about it?

Stephanie Jarstad, a senior from Federal Way, Wash., majoring in photography, said there are two tiers to the mobile photography trend. Some take pictures to casually share artistic ideas, and others use camera apps, including Instagram, as a way to expand their professional portfolio. Although professional photographers are still set apart, the industry is being affected by current technology.

“I think it’s a funky trend,” Jarstad said. “The photo industry is going towards amateurs taking pictures with their phones.”

She receives additional requests from clients for vintage and distressed looks due to the rising trend of Instagram filters. Jarstad said it is a trend that will come and go, pointing to the 80s, which was known for its “punchy colors” in photographs and art. Ultimately, everyone must find their own style.

“If you can capture beauty through your phone, that’s great,” Jarstad said.

Facebook recently purchased Instagram for $1 billion, and although some Apple and Android users worry that the acquisition will negatively affect the app, Facebook will not make any changes for at least a year.

There are also several apps that help users enjoy Instagram even more. A few highlights:

  • Postagram: This app allows you to create postcards from Instagram photos and send them to friends and family for $.99 each.
  • Squaready: Instagram photos are retro square designs, and taking photos outside of the app means resizing is necessary. Squaready makes any photo in your phone instantly ready for Instagram.
  • Olloclip: Although not an app, this iPhone attachment lens allows users to take wide-angle and fish-eye shots.

How do you think apps like Instagram are affecting the photography world? Let us know about it on Twitter or Facebook.

To view an infographic about this topic, click here

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