Three Reasons to Stay Off Instagram

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?


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

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

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 ( to offer as limited edition prints (

Leigh Miller'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"

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

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.

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.

David Love'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 !!!

David Love'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.

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.


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.

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