07 July 2021

Digital Photography Review: “Instagram alienates photography community after CEO’s recent statement”

We’re [also] going to be experimenting with how do we embrace video more broadly – full screen, immersive, entertaining, mobile-first video, Mosseri says in the clip. You’ll see us do a number of things, or experiment with a number of things in this space over the coming months. It was this line that caused an uproar in the photography community, however: We’re no longer a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app, Mosseri fatefully stated.

While he would take to Twitter in an attempt to retract those last words, the damage had been done. His initial statement spread like wildfire across the Internet and was the last straw for many photographers that saw their engagement drop over time on an app whose algorithm was favoring more ‘entertaining’ content, regardless of the quality in some instances.

Kara Murphy

Not exactly surprising, considering Instagram has consistently moved away from its initial focus for years. Can any photographer recall when Instagram launched a feature dedicated to photography in recent years? Even the ability to upload from the desktop site is still missing, though currently in testing. The current app is anything from a market place for influencers to promote their brands and products, to a place to chat and keep up with friends, where you can share funny clips and memes, even a dating app – but an app for photographers? Instagram has not fit that profile in a long while, and you might argue it was never meant for that role.

Adam Mosseri in a video clip on Instagram
Adam Mosseri on Instagram: We’re no longer just a square photo-sharing app.

As for the idea of switching to Twitter… I doubt that photographers will find Twitter a more suitable social network for their work. While they have improved photo display considerably in recent years, preserving original photo compression settings and removing image cropping, on Twitter photographers will run into the same issues as on Instagram: algorithmic ranking and noise. Instead on competing for attention with Snapchat-like stories and TikTok-like clips, they would have to compete with a blazing-fast news cycle. Twitter has been expanding the in-app features as well, so photos are becoming an even tinier portion of content you can consume on Twitter.

The best solution for photographers on the web remains the boring, old, original option of just maintaining a website or blog to present their work. It may be more time-consuming and expensive than a social media presence, but it gives better control and stability for the long term.

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