Is Instagram Really Cheating The Photography World?

Instagram has been a topic of much debate over the last month or so across various photography discussion sites. Part of this would probably be that after a long wait the platform finally got released for Android this week, but what I want to discuss is a recent CNN piece by highly regarded news photographer Nick Stern, which outlined some bitterness towards the application that had over 10 million downloads in its first year alone on the iPhone market.

The article jumped on Instagram and other vintage-filter-style photo applications for, as the title says, “Cheating the viewer”. He continues to outlay many points I can agree with and understand his frustrations on; spending thousands on equipment, years of perfecting technique, and the combination of being quick on the draw in the right positioning vs. time spent tweaking every aspect of a shot to make it perfect for one’s purpose. It has taken decades for Stern to portray what he wants to get across in his work and I’d imagine he continues to be inspired and learn to this day With this in mind, the idea that someone with no knowledge or practice of such an art can spend peanuts downloading an app that does it all for you at the click of a button could feel like a slap in the face. I can’t say I blame Nick for being a bit angry about that aspect of photography applications.

However, there are parts of Stern’s argument that I find myself disagreeing with.

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