Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Sins of Instagram



Confession. I really, really, reallly dislike Instagram.

Sure it's quick, and it's easy, and you can share the photos with the world in seconds. And you don't need to drag an enormous camera around. You can snap life with your iPhone while on the run. But the quality of the photos is so depressing.


When there is so much colour in the world, why would somebody create something that bleaches or sepiarises life? It doesn't make sense. Even the brighter photos have a kind of washed-out feel to them. It's the filters. They're designed to make everyone look like a great photographer but the irony is that all the photos are starting to look the same.

Gauguin and Monet and Van Gogh laboured for years and cut off their ears to show us the beauty in blues, greens and bright, sunflower yellows. Yves Klein created his famous reputation by capturing the joy of the infinite in an ultramarine, lapis lazuli-style pigment now known as International Klein Blue (IKB). While Jackson Pollock spent much of his life in seclusion in the Hamptons, trying to perfect the beauty of his fantastic, multi-coloured messes canvases. So why are we resorting to filtering our life down to browns and greys? (And I bet Oscar de la Renta and Valentino didn't use Instagram to inspire them for their palettes. Why would they, when there is so much inspiration in bright shades?)

           

Instagram is a gimmick, a tease, an invention designed to make us nostalgic for old 1970's polaroids and faded happy snaps from our glory days. We're sharing our lives on it, but are the photos really doing our lives justice?


I don't know about you but I can't look at any more brown sunsets. I can take any more dull, muddy-coloured scenes. Forgive me while I go and take a photo of a spring flower in full bloom, so I can remember the heady sight of natural, unadulterated colour for once.

I suspect Instagram, like many other things, won't be around for long. And I fear for all those people who have taken photos with it. Their computer archives will be full of muted scenes that, in years to come, will seem devoid of energy and life. (NB These photos of Paris are mine; I've bleached them to make them look Instagramish for the purposes of this post. The original ones are much prettier. I don't use Instagram. It's the devil's work, as Miss Faux Fuchsia would say.)


Please don't forget the joy of real colour. Pack a tiny Leica or Panasonica DMZ in your handbag and use that instead. If you can find room for a mobile or cell phone, you can always have a camera in a spare pocket of your bag. The photos from a camera taken without a filter, without a phone, without some nifty Instagramesque influence, will look far more beautiful in years to come. Believe me.



A LITTLE STUDY IN COLOUR

As a quick PS, my niece Alex is studying styling at RMIT University in Melbourne. (Who knew there was a degree in it?) She's asked me to help her with a project this week, so I've been practising beforehand, with a 'faux project' based around the theme of colour. (Just like we did at university all those years ago.) Here are some poor attempts, which Alex will no doubt laugh at. But don't you just love the colours?









24 comments:

  1. Janelle

    How interesting! I'm not really sure what Instagram is except that many blogs are talking about it. Now I know what not to do having seen the pics that you've bleached to simulate this latest trend. Will stick to the camera and the smart phone.

    I love that your blog is full of beautiful colours. It's so true that Gauguin, Monet and Van Gogh were brilliant colourists. Also Matisse and Picasso (Matisse always, Picasso mostly - especially when he moved on from his earlier stages of still lifes with Braque - and the cubist period). Counting Picasso as French because he spent most of his working life in France.

    This French panache and love of colour is one of the reasons I find it so difficult to understand why stylists who want to make interiors look French tend to restrict themselves to the bleached colour palettes of off-whites and beiges, with hessian sacks made into chair coverings or cushions, when the French produce lovely textiles in such wonderful colours. It must also be having a spin off influence on the French themselves because when I was shopping in Le Marche St Pierre in Paris last June for single colour linens (to use as the backs of cushions in lovely toiles de jouy that I'd bought this holiday they only had three or four types of plain linen, all in different beiges! So disappointing.
    Your styling pictures above are wonderful, so full of joie de vivre - a celebration of life! Best wishes, Pamela

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    1. An addendum to the comment below... Mood fabric store in New York also has hundreds of linens too, so I can find some of your preferred colours there next time I'm in Manhattan, if you like. Another store with lovely coloured linens is The Fabric Store in Melbourne's Brunswick Street. Although they only half two dozen or so, the shades are all really pretty.

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  2. I agree completely Pamela. There is so much more colour in Paris and France than people realise. The French may have designed their cities in pale stone-based palettes but they've accessorised in gloriously vibrant shades. And yes, I've grown tired of the hessian-sack look too. I still look at Sofia Coppola's film 'Marie Antoinette' for inspiration. The colours in that (while perhaps not authentic: they were inspired by Ladurée's pastries) are so beautiful, and there are so many of them all the way through the movie. I should have sent you to the fabric stores of Montmartre. There are dozens there and they have hundreds of colours in French linen. I'm going to Paris soon. If you let me know which colours you want I'll buy some for you as a gift. I think they were only 7 Euros/metre, which is incredibly cheap.

    How's the consideration of that memoir coming along? Your life has been so extraordinary that we're all enthralled when your reveal another autobiographical gem from it. I'm starting a small publishing company, and would love to publish 'The Diplomat Wife'! (Although we'll find a grander title that fully represents you.) No pressure. Just an idea.

    Thanks for another lovely comment. x

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    1. I mentioned MA in a previous post to you..the one you did about four back about ad campaigns...I loved it too ..

      Yep uni degrees in everything these days..my son is studying business management in sport and exercise at UTS ..having said that I'm still surprised at the things they --young(er) people--don't know or is it only young men? or is it I'm an old grump ?
      As for colour blocking there's always the supreme master Rothko

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    2. Dear Janelle
      Thank you so much for offering to find linens for me on your travels. You are really walking the kindness walk! But I wouldn't want to take up your time or baggage space so really I'll look again next time we're in Melbourne or Paris. But I do so much appreciate your offer.

      After spending quite some time in Marche St Pierre in Montmartre in June, husband had had enough! There was no way I'd have been able to persuade him to try other stores for a bigger selection of linens. But he very kindly carried two large bags of fabric (mostly toiles de jouy) all the way up the hill to the Place du Tertre, past the Bateau Lavoir etc, and down again - and it wasn't till later that I realised how heavy the bags were and remembered how uncomplainingly he carried them.
      Have mentioned to him your interest in writing a memoir and he was, like me, astonished as neither of us think we're interesting enough subjects - but also he's a very private person (as I tend to be too, despite all the comments I write) and really wouldn't want to have our lives in the public domain. But I'm seriously thrilled that you thought of doing so. How wonderful that you're starting a publishing company! Will follow progress with great interest. Warmest wishes, Pamela

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    3. Miss SMR, You are just the most amazing encyclopaedia of information! Rothko... I'd forgot about old Rothko. What an extraordinary colourist he was. You must have been a librarian in a previous life. All your references are so broad, and so interesting. Keep 'em up! And best of luck to your son. I'm sure he's getting High Distinctions at UTS. xx

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  3. PS Our comments are always so long, but I don't care. I encourage long comments on this blog!

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  4. Your styling photos are beautiful and so full of colour, I don't do instagram, I really can't fit another thingy type app in. I'm exhausted.X

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    1. Your comment made me laugh Samantha. I don't do Twitter for the same reason. I need to get AWAY from the computer / phone / Internet. Thanks for the kind comment. x

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  5. I thought it was just me - I can't stand Instagram either! The pictures are awful. To me they look like something from the 50s and 60s, before good quality film or cameras were really available to everyone. It's awful. I just don't get it. Thank you for your beautiful posts with beautiful colors!

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    1. Feel exactly the same way. Glad you agree. Even the old film cameras (35 mm and transparency - oh, remember the glorious colours of trannies?) were better than Instagram's offerings. Thanks for reading, and for taking the time to comment. x

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  6. Touche Jeanne.. bravo.. lovely post.. stunning bright colors do it for me totally as well.. keep them coming.. regards J..

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    1. Thanks Jeanne. Hope your South Africa trip is going well. Your tours sound wonderful. Will have to do one next year. x

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  7. Fabulous post! I agree Instagram is just a gimmick for those who latch onto every new app or i-thing that is offered. Colour is wonderful and I'm not interested in using Instagram. I had a Diana Lomography camera for a while, which was cute. In fact, the colours it produced were more interesting "jewel-like" colours than Instagram. Can you imagine trying to capture the vibrancy of Indian or South American celebrations on Instagram? What a waste that would be.

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  8. I've never heard of a Diana Lomography camera, so very interested. It sounds lovely. I always wanted a Hasselblad - their lenses were the best in the world - but out of the budget! The Diana L sounds more me.

    Have you been to India or South America? My mother said the colours of Peru and Cusco in particular were amazing. Thanks for popping by, so lovely to hear from you. x

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    1. A Diana Lomography camera is a plastic camera that uses 120 film and produces a square print and an effect evocative of the 1960s. They're fun but I found it quite expensive as there's so much trial and error involved. Retail cost is about $90. Here's info: http://microsites.lomography.com/diana/

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  9. Wow these colors are gorgeous! I also love color but instagram is so fun too!
    xo
    Sharon

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    1. Yes, I know. Don't listen to me Miss Fashion-isha! Keep on using it! x

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  10. My instagram pix are full of bright colours. I rarely filter and am a little obsessed with spring flowers - brighter, sharper the better... ! And yep I'm loving it. Life is not leaving me much time to blog so its quick connections are at least giving me some pleasure. I promise no washed out landscapes... Although after another grey Melbourne day I'm tempted!!

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    1. Oh, I'm so pleased to hear that Ann. And I'm glad there is a 'bright, happy' Instagram filter rather than the usual melancholy sepia ones. I suspect its popularity is due to, as you say, lack of time. And I can completely understand that. Best of luck using it. I do hope you continue to take many more bright pix of spring flowers! J x

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  11. This is a very interesting/thought provoking post. I don't have instagram. In the beginning it was a cute idea, but now it is so overrated. Everybody is using it... I love your color photos, especially the roses with the tea.
    I am much more for sharper images, and black and white contrast than sepia, not to say I have not used it once or twice. But it is a process on the computer, when I edit photos before I put them up on my blog.

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    1. Hi Brigi, Thanks for the kind note. Yes I'm a fan of sharp detail too, although my camera is so old now (and has been dropped so many times) that I don't think it knows how to do sharp anymore. Your black-and-white pix sound beautiful. The really clear ones - and Photoshop is great for adjusting the contrast - look magnificent. They're far superior to brown, sepia shades, I think, which only look good for certain scenes. (Eugene Atget-style photos of Paris, for example. ) But then, everyone is allowed to have their own opinions on photographs. It makes for an interesting forum! xx

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  12. hi Janelle, lovely fellow Melburnian.

    I agree with Ann - Instagram allows you to upload unfiltered images, with lots of colour, which is what I do.

    I agree there is enough grey and sepia in the world.

    xo

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  13. Hello back to you Miss Jane! Yes, lots of people have reassured me that Instagram does allow for coloured photos. (I haven't joined yet: I'm a late adopter who's still attached to my Canon camera. I'm also fearful of using the iPhone since I received a $1500 bill from a 2-week US trip!) Keep taking lots of bright pix. That's all I'm asking of people. The dull ones are so miserable-looking. I'm sure yours are beautiful. Thanks for commenting. xx

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Thank you for stopping by. It's always lovely hearing from The Library's readers.

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