Three Reasons to Stay Off Instagram

Since's Instagram's inception, there have been countless arguments by creatives for and against the social media platform. Here are three reasons why you should get off and stay off Instagram.

1. It Wasn't Made for Photographers

The social media platform was not made for photographer use, like Flickr or 500px. Yes, it was originally crated as a photo-sharing site. But that doesn't necessarily make it the best for photographers and artists. Its crop proportions are not optimized for photographers to best share their work, either. And the most-liked image on Instagram right now is of an egg; Need I say more?

2. It's Not Curated by a Photography-Focused World

Instagram is great because of its democratic nature, but this seemingly has led to one massive popularity contest. Rather than editorial or even commercial spaces and publications being curated by highly-trained and artistic eyes, the most successful Instagram posts and accounts usually follow some sort of unoriginal trend or theme. What's popular on Instagram photographically is not necessarily the most original or artistically the best. 

3. Its Terms of Use Is Sub-Par

It should be noted (and definitely has been in the past) that when you post images to Instagram, you're immediately giving up rights to the image. You still have ownership, but Instagram can do what it pleases with your content. From Instagram's Terms of Use:

We do not claim ownership of your content, but you grant us a license to use it. Nothing is changing about your rights in your content. We do not claim ownership of your content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights (like photos or videos) on or in connection with our Service, you hereby grant to us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). You can end this license anytime by deleting your content or account. However, content will continue to appear if you shared it with others and they have not deleted it.


What's the point of spending countless hours on a series of photographs just to have the license of those images completely stripped from you?

Conclusion

As photographers and creatives, maybe it's time to boycott this social media platform. Its culture has given way to influencers and professional Instagrammers who, most of the time, merely exploit an algorithm and follow popular rules to gain fame and attention. It's not compatible to professional photographers or aspiring professionals creating a living. And honestly, I'm guilty because I'm still on the site. But as time goes on I've begun to share less and less photos, and certainly not my best (as I'm not ready for the rights to be released on those...). I'm thinking that within the next few days the time will come to delete my Instagram account altogether. What are your thoughts? Should we part with Instagram as photographers or stay on the boat?

Lead photo by NeONBRAND via Unsplash.

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61 Comments

Tor Ivan Boine's picture

Use it for what it is, an exposure tool.
Or should we just use unsplash instead?

Mark Fa'amaoni's picture

Can Fstoppers seriously stop publishing articles using images sourced from Unsplash? The suggestion that we "boycott Instagram" because apparently "it wasn't made for photographers,nor curated by photographers", and that it has terms of services that are similar to every other photo sharing service in the world (including Flickr and 500px, that were included in the artice) is bad enough. But Unsplash is objectively doing more harm to professional photography than anything instagram has ever done.

So I'm calling for a boycott. Lets boycott Unsplash. Its easy enough to do. Just stop sharing images from Unsplash and you are done. The author of this article is a photographer. Fstoppers paid him for the article. Pay a bit more for a photo as well. Timothy, you can lead the way. Fstoppers, make an editorial decision and ban Unsplash from this site.

What are your thoughts? Should we part with Unsplash as photographers or stay on the boat?

John Dawson's picture

unsplashstoppers.com

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

I'm seriously considering boycotting Fstoppers. It's almost as if the authors had to sign a contract requiring that they use Unsplash at every opportunity. You see in article after article an Unsplash image being used that the author could have easily created.

How hard would it have been for this author to pull out their phone and their camera and create that lead image instead of using Unsplash?

I'm a huge fan of Fstoppers and have gotten so much value and benefit out of it over the years, but this Unsplash thing is going to drive me away. If we keep letting this excessive and egregious use of Unsplash slide, eventually we subconsciously normalize free photography.

As I type this, I'm thinking an effective boycott would be to only leave UNSPLASH as a comment in articles where an Unsplash image is used. If people put the effort in to write an article, only to get a a comment section full of UNSPLASH and nothing else, that would probably shut down Unsplash on Fstoppers in fairly short order.

Thoughts? Anybody with me?

Dusty Wooddell's picture

I can't speak for all of the writers, but I'm confident that most actively reach out among colleagues for cover images in the event they don't have one of their own to use. I know I do. Thanks for your continued support!

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

So you reached out to your photographer colleagues and nobody could produce an image of a smartphone with the instagram icon on it? C'mon, man.

Dusty Wooddell's picture

This is not my article.

Tom Kaszuba's picture

The author of the article is on Instagram.

Jeff Walsh's picture

this is maybe my favorite comment ever

Eric Raeber's picture

I find it surprising indeed, after so much Instagram bashing, that the author would take some of his images with a high number of instagram likes (https://www.instagram.com/p/Bl1fvp5AlUr/) to offer as limited edition prints (https://www.timothybehuniak.com/limited-editon)

LA M's picture

and....right above the comments section under "related Articles" is an FS piece entitled "Don't Care About Instagram? Here's Why You Should"

Tor Ivan Boine's picture

well, it's an opinion piece from different authors.

LA M's picture

Just....irony

William Faucher's picture

Fstoppers is not an amoeba blob, that has one single collective opinion and spews out articles with a single agenda and flawless philosophy. It is a collective group of authors, each of whom have various opinions on different matters relating to photography as a whole. Of course you will have contradicting articles, that is the whole point; to share thoughts on the craft we all love and practice on a daily basis.

If every article had a single opinion or thought on any given matter, I would not be reading.

Dusty Wooddell's picture

Good point.

joseph cole's picture

I would say use whatever you can to self-promote i feel as though the more eyes that see your work the more its talked about and that can only lead to good things if you want to limit your viewers access to your work well you might as well take photos with the lens cap on....

David Penner's picture

Let's say you have two equal photographers. One has a strong social media presence. One doesn't.
The person with a stronger social media presence will get more jobs and possibly make more money since they can upsell based on the fact that you can promote their product on your account. As a landscape photographer you can sometimes negotiate deals on hotels based on promoting them on your social media.

Jodi Frye's picture

When Instagram was born it was intended for quick phone pic shares. That still happens of course but photographers like you have mostly taken over Instagram in a big way so why leave ? . It would be nice if they included upload from desktop though.

davidlovephotog's picture

You can. In Chrome, go to google home page and right click. Go to the top and click the mobile view, then go to instagram and it treats it like you're on a phone. Upload away.

Jodi Frye's picture

😳 Omg thank you !!! I had no idea !!! Awesome !!!

davidlovephotog's picture

Uh Flickr or 500px are not where potential clients hang out and 500px was in trouble for doing shady licensing stuff before and of course just let someone steal every members info on there. If you're looking for clients you don't flyer a photography store. I created a site here to read articles and I figured if total strangers liked a pic it had a chance with everyone else where I post to social. Nobody has ever contacted me and said "I found you on fstroppers or 500px, I want to hire you."

Yes Instagram sucks. Even more now that Zuckerberg backed out of his promise to the founders of Instagram about leaving it separate from Facebook. Now it's screwed and will get even more screwed as they kill all reach and jam it with ads. But it's where people are and images get shared where others can see them.

Tor Ivan Boine's picture

Wish Fstoppers had an "instagram" app. I would been scrolling all day. just saying ...

Chris Silvis's picture

Their are on instagram.

William Faucher's picture

Instagram-style APP, not an Instagram account.

Chris Silvis's picture

I read that wrong. My apologies.

William Faucher's picture

Happens to the best of us! :)

Chad D's picture

a bit like saying you are in the woods but you dont like hunting so dont eat what you can hunt cause you do not like it so die instead ?

yeah it sucks but nothing else like it sadly

Penny Fan's picture

I love Flickr over Instagram, but it isn't very popular.

Daniel Medley's picture

"What's popular on Instagram photographically is not necessarily the most original or artistically the best."

Well, I think it depends on what your goals are. If someone is attempting to acquire paying clients, what is "most original or artistically the best" is meaningless. Obviously, "art" is subjective. Also, there comes a certain point in which fellow photographers are the worst people to market to.

I don't consider myself a "professional." I've sort of fallen into some paying gigs, which is just fine by me. A large percentage of those paying gigs have been directly because of IG and Facebook. People reaching out to me with something along the lines of, "I love xyz photo, can you do something like that for me?" I've NEVER had anyone from Flickr or 500px do that.

Ever.

The use of IG or FB in conjunction with a sort of word of mouth approach can result in some people paying you to take photos. You don't have to be an "influencer" with a bajillion followers to acquire some paying gigs.

If I were forced to choose one of the following; IG, Flickr, or 500px, I would go with IG all day long.

Ryan Burleson's picture

Instagram is fake and mimic culture. Nothing is genuine, go flex your insta epeen worth a penny in the real world.

Jordan McChesney's picture

“ the most-liked image on Instagram right now is of an egg; Need I say more?“
Yeah, I hate to be that guy, but a picture of an egg technically won the “Winter” contest right here on Fstoppers, so that point is kind of invalid. When the social internet bands together with a singular goal, anything is possible.

Also, say what you will, at least instagram allows me to curate what is shown to me as soon as I open it, which is more than I can say for Fstoppers. 90% of the images shown to me on the front page here are studio portraits or cars, which I just can’t get into. It may not be a platform specifically for photographers, but it does allow for one to only see photos from photographers they are interested in. I personally avoid the “explore” page, which helps me stay away from the stuff I don’t care for.

No singular platform is perfect, so it’s best to diversify. I come here for professional quality images and feedback, I use instagram for sharing, inspiration, and scouting information.

Timothy Roper's picture

Exactly. I spend a lot of time on Instagram, and I've never seen this egg photo. It's all a matter of how you craft your feed. It's up to you to pick who and what topics to follow.

Toney Smith's picture

Practice what you preach and get off there then!!!

John Dawson's picture

"Three reasons why you should not breathe, eat and drink" #hitmeuponig

Deleted Account's picture

Some social media are almost unknown, but IMHO some of them deserve to be known more.
This is (the) one https://ello.co made by artists for artists.

William Faucher's picture

Literally never heard of this, and I am open to new alternatives. How is it?

Deleted Account's picture

From the point of view of marketing your work it is not very interesting at the moment. But it could become if the site grows.
I find it very interesting from the cultural point of view, for the possibility of confrontation and dialogue with other artists, not necessarily photographers, leading to new and different understanding of the visual communication...
From my point of view of Art/Creative director I think that photographers need to get out of their circle of self-congratulation…

William Faucher's picture

Interesting! Could be worth checking out. One little thing I have to nitpick though, self-congratulation? Photographers are some of the most toxic people to one another, in general. It seems to go either way from what I noticed. Either 100% praise, or 100% insulting and downright harmful comments.There is no middle ground with constructive criticism. At least, very little of it.

Deleted Account's picture

William, probably my limited english knowledge does not allow to express myself correctly.
What I mean, and I say this because having worked for years as art and creative director for various magazines and agencies, being in contact with any kind of creative people, is that photographers are the less creative that I have to work with, people generally very arrogant and proud of themselves (not all of them, but most of them)…
Photographers are the less open people that I had to work with (then comes painters), people generally with limited artistic and cultural knowledge, and a limited understanding of the needs of the image and visual communication industry.
So I think that if a photographer really wants to grow intellectually and artistically it is a very good thing for him to frequent different platforms which are not only dedicated to photography or self promotion (for this I told self-congratulation - self-satisfaction), but to any other kind of other artistic and communication media.
(Sorry again for my basic english)

Hawaii Portrait Photographer's picture

where do you go to market your photos? instagram, facebook, and twitter is the main social media platforms.

Jeff Walsh's picture

he uses insta, and also wrote the article on this website, Three Reasons You Should Be Using Instagram. It's just garbage article writing, and a lazy way to generate content and comments. Say something polarizing, then a couple days later, say the opposite. Most of these "bloggers" are lucky the bar is so damn low for any type of journalistic/opinion piece writing. Most of these would be lucky to land a copy editor intern position

Rayann Elzein's picture

Until last week I was still on Instagram, and I can assure you that it was by far my lowest selling/marketing platform. Have a good website, that sells a lot more than Instagram (unless you have 500,000 followers there...). Talk to people. Make an effort to get them interested in your work. That sells a lot more than Instagram. For the last workshops/tours that I ran earlier in the winter, less than 20% of participants came from Instagram. Compared to the huge efforts that are required to be always on top of your game on social media, the benefits are ridiculous.

William Faucher's picture

I have grown weary of IG as a whole lately, but my dilemma is, what is there to replace it? 500px is trash, Flickr is not what it used to be, Facebook is a no go, Google + is gone, what is left?

Glem Let's picture

William,
Why do you NEED to put your work on a social media site..? Is it likes or do you get loads of calls from art directors..?

If it’s the former I have no answer as I don’t want/need likes about my work.

If it’s the latter then you don’t need Instagram as you have an address book full of art buyers already, just remind them of who you are with a structured marketing plan. Much more professional than slapping a filtered pic onto ‘Insta...’

David Penner's picture

Love it or hate it part of a structured marketing plan these days involves Instagram.
I've already said it once on here but as a photographer you will make more money if you can sell your own social media presence. If the client is fine with it you can post a few insta stories during the shoot and tag the brand. If not when the marketing plan goes live post content from the shoot and tag the brand. Literally takes a minute to do and depending on your following is actually worth it for the brand to pay a bit more for.

Rayann Elzein's picture

If you were on IG from the very beginning, and have hundreds of thousands of followers, yes, you can make money and have it part of a structured marketing plan. If you joined years later, forget about it. Or just use bots and all kinds of cheats to increase your number of followers and call yourself an influencer. Apparently, there are still so many brands that don't realise those influencers are in reality... well... not influencers.

Glem Let's picture

Very good points and relevant, though I dare say these points will be brushed under the carpet by the younger generation of part time ‘pro’ photographers who feel they ‘need’ likes from anyone at all, to tell them they are cool/hip/talented etc....

What amazes me is that in one direction we have so much tech now that taking a photo or video really is easy, yet pro level standards keep falling. I think it’s because people lose their originality, they see a great pic on Instagram and immediately say to themselves ‘ I wanna take that shot...’

Yes use work that you are drawn to as inspiration but don’t copy it.

Not long ago we didn’t have access to all of the worlds amateur, semi pro and pro work, we only had monthly or weekly magazines, books and exhibitions..

Which made us go out and create original work and be proud of it... without the need for likes from strangers

Glem Let's picture

I'm quite new to this site and am quickly finding out a couple of things, firstly is where we are at in terms of younger generation photo enthusiasts. A person who enjoys photography hasn't changed much in 75yrs however a ..........'pro' Well that's a different thing and this site is a hotspot for me because I can see how its all changed and how so many people now consider themselves professional photographers but when you you look at their output, their body of work, its 2nd year college stuff at best. One of the main reasons for this is because they write articles on sites like this, plus they do a bit of teaching and then they shoot...a bit...

BUT... they all LOVE Instagram, yet as you say, they don't even offer up their own photos to back up their articles and quite often their articles are from what point of view exactly...? As others have just noted, Instagram hits play a big part in this, so we get an article from very inexperienced part time shooters, telling how to improve, or not, or how to us Social media... or not... And without their own photos to lead the story... But hey, it drives hobbyists to their insta feed....

So what are these 'authors'..?

We've established they are not journalists and cannot write a piece from with a credible point of view... they are not photographers because they use other peoples stock images to lead the piece...

They are Instagrammers.... chancers floating along on the web believing that more hits/likes with add to their passive income. Some comb the net, looking for OTHER PEOPLES articles and clips, then roll them up into an Fstopper 'article..' So it isn't even their content.

This to me, is a long way away from what the owners of the site are doing

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

Man, this is a spot on analysis, Glem Let.

And with each passing week, it seems, your last sentence becomes more and more true. I've been reading Fstoppers for years and it didn't used to be this way.

Lee and Patrick are out creating and expanding their horizons as business owners, meanwhile we're getting article after article from photographers too lazy to create their own stock photos.

I'm really starting to question whether this is a site I can continue to visit. It used to be a joy to come here. Now, I get frustrated every time I see another Unsplash image. To continue coming here would mean that I'm choosing to frustrate myself. That's not something I'm going to keep doing.

Maybe it's time to check out of the website and just watch the Youtube channel where Lee and Patrick post and manage to create thumbnails without using Unsplash.

Simon Patterson's picture

The author posted a new photo to Instagram within 5 hours of this article being published. Clearly he is part of the unfortunately growing number of people with no sense of irony or shame.

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