Is a Tagged Instagram Photo More Than Just a Photo?

PBS' Idea Channel poses an interesting question, "Is a tagged Instagram more than just a photo?"

There is and has been a lot of discussion going on about Instagram. Does it cheapen photography, or is it the best thing to ever happen to photography? I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle, but I also think it has changed the fundamental approach toward what photography is and what it represents in the modern world. The Idea Channel suggests that a tagged Instagram photo is actually more than just a photo, and might just be making it a more dynamic medium for sharing images than anything else.

"There's tons more going on with Instagram than just artsy photos of people's cats and sandwiches...Besides [tags] providing searchable collections of images...they also provide a context or commentary. Think about all of the meaning they attach to their photos. This is true of all hashtags on all platforms, but especially neat for Instagram because hashtags are frequently the only textual content on a post. They are the only thing with a literal meaning...they can make explicit a meaning in which was only otherwise implied or totally external to the picture or didn't even exist until invoked by a hashtag...All of this adds layers of depth and relationship to what otherwise might just be a photo. How great that depth is and how meaningful it might be just depends on what tags you're looking at."

What do you think about this? Does the medium of Instagram give a different context to photography? Do tags inherently enhance or detract? Or is it conditional?

Via Youtube

Chris Knight's picture

Residing in New York City, Chris is an internationally published photographer whose work has appeared in Vogue, People, MSNBC, ABC, Ocean Drive, GQ and others. He is an instructor of Photography and Imaging at Pratt Institute and the New York Film Academy.

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This is bullshit

It's the age old philosophical question: Is a poorly lit, badly composed, grainy and faux filtered snapshot of someone's hot beverage really an Instagram without #mycrappyphotooffood?

Actually someone that knows what he's talking about, not some "expert" that heard about Instagram (or similar) and comments about it. And yes, I agree that hashtags add depth to the photos.

What the....
That's a minute of my life I'm not getting back (yes I could only stand a minute of it)

Metadata is drastically changing photo sharing. Location data really changes the game. Who knows how metadata is going to change photo sharing in the future.

I always thought the hashtag is more of a way to promote the image for more likes. So really it becomes the opposite of altruism and more of a materialistic stance.