Is Instagram the Best Thing to Ever Happen to Photography?

I’ve never been one to feel compelled to take photographs. I am amazed at how many people experience life by looking at things through their phones. Even though I completely understand the lure of ‘the second screen’ my aversion probably comes from spending so many years trying to convince people to experience the arts and find myself now at concerts or plays with people trying to take pictures instead of being engaged. People work very hard at capturing the moment rather than having the moment. 

Having said that, eventually I too was seduced by Instagram. It started when I saw what some of my friends and colleagues were doing with it, some of them artists and some not, but all every now and then capturing really engaging photographs. So I joined the service simply to see what my friends were doing. But since it was there I found myself also taking photographs. Thinking about it now I realize that in my case it is not about taking good or funny pictures, but for me it is instead a really quick way to document something that has given me pause during my day to day. Things that made me stop during my perpetual daily rush now get photographed instead of documented in a notebook, which is easier and faster. 

Instagram had interesting origins, and was sold for a ton of money to Facebook, but is it the best thing to happen to photography? The wonderful folks at PBS Idea Channel make the case in their latest episode. What do you think?

With its ability to make boring cellphone photos look “vintage” and “artsy”, Instagram has exploded worldwide. Derided by its detractors as a tool for making bad photos worse, we take an alternate view and argue that Instagram is the greatest thing to ever happen to photography. Its simple filters and social networking features are training cellphone photographers everywhere to think creatively about their photos. Plus, the app is turning its worldwide user base into an army of photojournalists capturing striking images of the people and events around them. As the old photography adage goes, “The best camera is the one you have with you.”

Hosted by Mike Rugnetta
Made by Kornhaber Brown 

Previously on the Idea Channel:

Is “Texts From Hillary” Art?
Authenticity In Pop Music: Computer Generated Miku Hatsune vs. Marketing Generated Lana Del Rey
Super Mario Brothers Is The World’s Greatest Piece Of Surrealist Art

Antonio Ortiz

Antonio Ortiz has always been an autodidact with an eclectic array of interests. Fascinated with technology, advertising and culture he has forged a career that combines them all. In 1991 Antonio developed one of the very first websites to market the arts. It was text based, only available to computer scientists, and increased attendance to the Rutgers Arts Center where he had truly begun his professional career. Since then Antonio has been an early adopter and innovator merging technology and marketing with his passion for art, culture and entertainment. For a more in-depth look at those passions, visit

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