There can’t be many people on this planet that hasn’t heard of Instagram. For anyone who hasn’t – Instagram is an online photo-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and share them simultaneously on a variety of social networking platforms, ie, Facebook,Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.
The distinctive feature of Instagram is that it confines your images to a square crop. On the surface this could be seen as a simple, uncomplicated one, but is it really? Creating square images from your digital camera is, for me, one of the most creative aspects of photography itself. Once you’ve mastered the art of composition, composing for the square format can, sometimes, transform a messy, or poorly composed image into a high-impact one.
The square format lends itself to most types of imagery, portraits and landscapes in particular. You have to remember this was once a very popular format in the 50’s and 60’s when legendary cameras like Hassleblad and Rolliflex were the sort after models of the day. These cameras were known the world over as medium format, they used 120 roll film and gave the photographer just 12 images per roll.
Fortunately, we’re not restricted to such confinements with today’s modern digital cameras. The new breed of mirror-less cameras, such as the FujiFilm X-T1 will capture images in the1:1 (square) format. The X-T1 also has a flip-out rear screen, which again, is very reminiscent of the way we used our Rolliflex and Mamiya cameras of yesteryear.
If your camera doesn’t have the facility to shoot square format images all is not lost. There are several programs or apps available to allow you to do this. If you’re a photographer, working on a PC or Mac, my guess is you’ll be using Photoshop or Lightroom. If you’re a Phone or Tablet user I can whole heartedly recommend Snapseed, which will not only crop your image 1:1, but also fine tune and add filters to your work if required.
The biggest hurdle to overcome with all social networking sites is building a presence. Instagram champions the use of the humble hashtag, a type of label or metadata tag, which makes it easier for others users to find your content. For example, on Instagram the hashtag #bluesky allows users to find images that have been tagged as containing a blue sky, and #monochrome is a popular tag for black and white images.
Using popular hashtags is one of the main tactics you can employ to get people to interact with you and your work. It also helps if you only post your best images and only use relevant hashtags for each of the photographs you upload.
Because I mainly shoot Street Photography with FujiFilm X series cameras my hashtags represent that. If you want to follow me and see more of my images, simple type #dotcomjohnny and be sure of a follow back.