How Will Instagram Affect Our Perception of Fine Art Photography?

In 2019, it’s hard to find anyone that doesn’t engage with some form of social media. And even as we may lie in a state of ‘peak social’, with many users rejecting traditional platforms such as Facebook in an ‘over sharing’ backlash, other, alternative social media websites are still widely adopted and used every day. One of these platforms is Instagram, replacing rants and status updates with, often aspirational, images or videos that stimulate the visual senses. 

Last November, social media expert Hootsuite revealed the extent of this adoption - Instagram has over 500 million monthly active users, who have shared over 40 billion images to date (equating to an average of 95 million per day!) In a culture where many of us are exposed to hundreds of photographs every day, many of them edited to perfection using any number of simple-to-use filters and apps, we can’t help but wonder how this constant exposure to easily accessible digital imagery will shape the public’s perception of fine art photography. 

Damaging attitudes 

With Instagram, every user is given a platform to capture, edit and post photographs to an audience in an instant (no matter how dull or uninspiring the subject or end result may be). As a result, many people, such as Elise Leveque in this article, argue that such constant contact with sub-standard photography may lower the public’s attitudes and expectations towards it. Rather than photography being an impressive medium, it is reduced down to a ‘game’ that everyone can take part in. What’s more, one photographer even feels that the rise of Instagram and its repeatable filters is creating a homogeneous digital photography landscape. 

Igniting interest and fuelling the genre 

However, rather than dumbing down attitudes towards creative photography, Instagram could in fact be inspiring fans of the medium, spawning a new appreciation for the art form and thus driving the genre forward. Photographer, Guy Prives discussed this idea in another blog post. Something which used to be niche is now admired by the masses. Although many amateur photographs may exist on the platform, this initial interest will surely spark further discovery, using the platform to uncover the true, creative, fine art photography masterpieces that exist amongst the ‘photo journal’ iPhone snaps. 

Boosting careers 

It cannot be argued that Instagram is every professional photographer’s dream, enabling them to upload, tag and expose their work to a wide and engaged audience – something which is integral to their career. But at what cost?

How do you feel the rise of Instagram is shaping the way the world views fine art photography? Is it boosting artist’s careers, or limiting them? Share your views in our comments below.


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