Jenna Koopman, a sophomore Art History major, snaps a quick picture of the bookshelves inside the John T. Richardson Library before taking a seat to study. She takes a seat, opens up the VSCO Cam app, selects the seventh color scheme, and chooses the Valencia filter on Instagram before posting her final product. This procedure is a familiar one for Koopman, as she frequently posts pictures to impress her 350 followers on Instagram.
Koopman is one of the many smartphone users that have a growing interest in artistic photography. Have photography apps such as Instagram and Hipstamatic switched people’s interest from digital photography and back to film? Is photography moving backwards?
There is something about an older and aesthetically pleasing photograph that attracts viewers, and Instagram attempts to portray that style of art. With 18 different editing filters, the user can choose one and tweak the photograph until they feel it is ready to publish.
“I think older looking photographs seem more nostalgic and add this whole other artistic element,” said Koopman about Instagram filters.
Instagram, however, is not the only smartphone app that allows the user to create artistic photographs. One particular app, Hipstmatic, gives people more options to become a photographer. Users can choose different films, flashes and lenses before taking their photograph, giving them the option to create their own unique filter. The types of lenses, film and flashes resemble previous versions of cameras, giving the photograph an older feel.
“Hipstamatic’s goal is to inspire people to take beautiful photographs,” said Katie Carroll, the Social Media manager for Hipstmatic. “We want to help people capture moments, create art, and tell visual stories through pictures.”
It seems that the hype towards Instagram and Hipstmatic have started a new artistic craze. Before submitting a photograph on Instagram, Koopman carefully edits the photograph using other apps such as Camera Plus, Snap Speed and Image Blender.
“Even if you aren’t a professional photographer, these apps make it really easy to take photos and make them really nice,” said Koopman.
Thanks to Instagram, Koopman’s interest in photography increased beyond simple filters. She finds herself exploring in the art of film photography.
“People like to use objects from different eras,” said Koopman, speaking of film photography. “We like what we don’t have.”
Film photographs have a completely different look compared to photographs from a digital camera, which attracts artistic photographers.
“I think film has a certain look that digital can’t do,” said Charles Ezaki, an employee at Central Camera Co. “With color film you get different color fidelity and grain structure. There’s a lot of elements towards film that digital doesn’t have.”
Using film forces the photographer to be selective with what they shoot rather than shooting excessive amounts of photos on a digital camera. The photographer has to be careful and particular on what exactly they want.
“It’s fun to have 20 pictures you haven’t seen, the anticipation is exciting,” said sophomore Billy Kraft, computer science major. Kraft prefers to use film cameras to avoid taking the time to set aperture, shutter speed and ISO levels.
“Messing with these settings can result in loosing the moment you want to capture,” said Kraft.
One of Kraft’s favorite camera to work with is a Holga, a small toy camera he purchased through Lomography. According to Corrina Bauer, Chief of Public Relations Coordination International for Lomography, the interest in toy cameras and film has clearly increased since the apparent interest in Instagram and Hipstamatic.
“Today’s teenagers grew up in a digital world without any analog devices like video tapes, audio tapes, film or floppy disks,” said Bauer. “Loading film simply makes you feel good. You are full of excitement for what will come out of this small little box once the film is full.”
Out of all the advancing technologies of the world, photography seems to be taking a step backward, even if numerous photographs created are on Apple’s recently updated iPhone. However, the iPhone apps such as Instagram and Hipstamatic have opened a door to a whole new art form with film photography. Who knows, maybe the next exhibit seen at the Art Institute will be made purely of Instagram photographs.