A few years ago I came across a blog by a local photographer, she was taking a picture a day of San Francisco and posting it. Her shots were amazing, and I was so intrigued by the challenge of documenting one's world everyday.
I have been taking photographs for most of my life, but at this point I had no discipline or thematic approach. I decided to try this and post the results on my Facebook page. It was a very short lived result, but the seeds were sown...fast forward to November 2010 and my discovery of Instagram.
“Against the Odds”
Instagram blew apart my creative world! From the first picture I took and posted I was hooked. Here was the format I had been looking for to document my visual experience of the world: quick, easy, and oh so pretty. I no longer had to carry around a camera, taking precious moments to find it in my purse, turn it on, get the right setting and take the picture - I could just grab my phone, snap, edit and post. Being able to get a finished product in 3-10 minutes was like crack to my creative process.
Instagram turned out to be much more then that for me however. Through it and directly because of it, I have grown incredibly as an artist. I have had the honor of meeting a number of amazing and talented people from all walks of life, who simply want to take and share their pictures. This community supports and encourages my work, taking the time on a daily basis to like and comment on my photographs. Posting pictures everyday is incredibly intimate, for while they may not directly show the ins and outs of my personal life, there is an immediacy to what is captured, how it is edited and when/what I choose to post.
People use IG for a lot of different purposes. Some to literally show what they are doing in the moment or where they have been, and others to document and transcribe parts of their world through editing; editing emphasizes meanings that are only just begun in the photograph. At this point I am firmly set in the latter. Photography is an important medium for me because of the silent nature of it. So different from my day job, it allows me to visually communicate pieces of myself and my world without saying a word. I have grown to love the silent meditation of the editing process.
Everything starts with being able to take a good picture, but for me that is only the beginning. As I was taking and posting more and more photographs, I found myself a little bored with the process and wanting the challenge of emphasizing or creating a mood beyond what the picture initially showed - this is where editing came in. Here is an example of the impact of editing on my work. This is a shot of the same monkey bars taken almost a year apart.
Both photos are taken and cropped in Camera+, in the second one I changed the perspective to the more interesting building behind. I then shifted it to B&W to minimize the color distraction and emphasis the pattern of repetition. I further emphasized the repetition by using Big Lens to blur the outer edge.
There are literally hundreds of editing apps! If I had to choose my favorites I’d say Camera+ (I take all my photos in this app), Noir, Rays, Squaready, Filterstorm, Pixlromatic, Big Lens, Blender, and Juxtapose. Here’s a recent before and after picture where I used a blend of some of these apps.
"Into the Light"
On the top is the original image I took in Camera+, I used clarity to emphasis some of the detail and turn it to silver gelatin, then saved it and reopened it in Filterstorm to straiten it out - I’m horrible at taking straight shots! I then opened it in Noir to emphasis the window as the light source, then Rays to further create a fuller experience of the light. Lastly, up again to Camera+ to crop and add a cross process filter.
As I am always growing as an artist, I continue to push myself as a mobile photographer. I follow people on Instagram that sit at my edge and are stylistically very different from me, so that I continue to develop in new ways.
"Piled High and Deep"
In the next year I want to explore the layering and blending of images. This is actually quite difficult - mine always end up looking cluttered and chaotic! I would also love to collaborate with people outside of Instagram on multi-disciplinary projects where I can utilize my photographs in some other medium. Stay tuned!
You can follow Linda on Instagram under her handle, maplesyrup.
Thanks Linda for a wonderful post!
Stay tuned for a collaboration between Linda and I (Lisa) in the next coming months. We have only been talking about it for 4 years!!