I’ve never been much of a fan when it came to Instagram and the currently popular “artistic filter” trend many photo-editing software developers as well as camera manufacturers tend to include with their products. Perhaps because I saw such one-click manipulations contradictory to the word “artistic” – they’re too accessible, too wide-spread. To such an extent, in fact, that there’s often no input from the actual person behind the image left. You could go as far as say most of the images enhanced with the mentioned filters look as if they were made by one person, and not thousands and millions who took those photographs. I find such filters, when used by masses of inexperienced photographers, rob their work of anything other than basic, technical look, character of the filter used. There’s no artist left, no person, no photographer, just the simple, instant effect of the filter. “Artistic”, in my dictionary, stands somewhere close to “unique”. It’s hard to call something unique when it’s used about a million times every day. Or more. Possibly much more. As if that isn’t enough, most of the time these filters are used to turn mediocre photographs into something that’s “deeper”, with a concept, with an idea behind it, even if it’s yet another “duck face” (a rather funny terminology) portrait. In the same way as some people use B&W conversion just because it looks more “artistic”. The look – whether it’s a grainy, high-contrast B&W or one that distorts color in an attempt to mimic cross-processing from film days – covers up all imperfections (often with different, aesthetically pleasing imperfections). You look at the image and you see effects, not the content. The filter fools you if you allow it to. It’s sometimes rather hard not to be fooled, frankly, given the fact that there are indeed some awesome images on Instagram.
Instagram’s recent change to their terms and conditions raised quite a ruckus. It essentially said that the company had the right to sell your photos to someone else without your permission and without compensating you. Ouch… The reactions have been pretty extreme, from users dumping their Instagram accounts to those saying, “Suck it up and stop whining – you aren’t paying for the service!” Each perspective (and everything in between) has some merit.
After the internet erupted in flames regarding this issue, Instagram’s co-founder quickly issued an Orwellian statement that went something like this, “Well, I know we stated that we had the right to sell your photos and not compensate you, but that was really not our intent.” Really? Hmmm… let’s look at the language:
“Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.”