A photographer on Reddit recently suggested he wanted to replace Instagram. With Instagram’s push on Reels (going head-to-head with TikTok) and its ever-changing algorithm, the Redditor felt it might be time to put his photography on a different platform. But are they right to run away? Or is there something else photographers need to do?
Photography and Instagram
I’m no stranger to criticizing Instagram. Two years ago, I accused the platform of no longer caring about photography. I’ve spoken about the toxic culture it hosts. However, over time, I’ve realized no matter the platform, that’s more of an issue with people, not the space they operate.
So, do I believe photographers should be looking for a replacement for Instagram? Well, we’ve seen other platforms try (and fail) to be the next big thing for photographers. VERO was the cool kid on the block back in 2018. It offered an algorithm-free experience and championed strong photography over being popular. Some photographers flocked to it, but it never really took off. Sticking to what you know prevailed, and photographers stayed with Instagram.
Twitter is becoming a new home for a budding photography community. It seems to be the “anti-Instagram” crowd making up the numbers, but overall it’s offering a nice experience. The downside to Twitter is that it can’t compete with Instagram’s feed, making it more difficult to sink yourself into a photographer’s work. Plus, with the platform’s latest policy change to sharing photographs without a subject’s consent (candid photographers, take note) likely, Twitter won’t be the place for photographers to push their photographic voice.
For a photographer, the main alternative to Instagram should be a website. It’s a space you have total control over, and you don’t have to play by the rules of a large social media company. But managing a website is a lot of work, at least if you want to drive traffic and attract eyes to your photographs. Most photographers use social media to make people aware they have a website, so it doesn’t serve as a replacement.
To answer the question: should photographers replace Instagram? No, they shouldn’t. What they should do, however, is replace their way of thinking. Please stick with me.
The Mindset of the Instagram Photographer
First off, allow me to say that there’s good reason to have gripes with Instagram. I’m sure it’s not only photographers (we don’t want to be Debby Downer of the creative world). Surely videographers, influencers, publications, and businesses have their own concerns about how Instagram operates. But what I do believe is that photographers could loosen up a little.
Most videographers I know also shoot stills. Photography isn’t their preferred creative medium, but they recognize its value and try to incorporate it into their brand. Photographers, however, tend to have a different approach. For the longest time, many photographers refused to accept that video was taking over. Stuck in their ways, they continued to make images as if video didn’t exist. I was one of those photographers.
Not everyone shared this mentality. A lot of photographers started to shoot video the way videographers made photos: on the side. And guess what, many of them have had successful careers because they decided to evolve.
I’m not suggesting we should move away from photography. But when many photographers complain about Instagram’s push on motion rather than stills, the signs are that it’s time to adapt. Like I said, if anything needs replacing, it’s our way of thinking, not Instagram.
I made a few Reels in 2021. Some of them did great numbers and brought new eyes to my photographs. Also, check out the reels we publish on The Phoblographer’s Instagram account. It’s a cool, fun way to incorporate motion into your photographic identity and a sure-fire way to get eyes on what you’re doing.
As it stands, I suggest we, the photography community, stop this constant need to run away from Instagram. Instead, let’s embrace what it has to offer and use it to our advantage. We’ll evolve as creators, and so will our often hostile attitude towards change.
What do you think? Is it time more photographers embrace video? Should there be an alternative to Instagram for photographers to share their work? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.