Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Bye Bye Instagram

Bye bye InstagramLast night, The news that Instagram has decided to assume ownership of the content generated by its users with the view of possibly selling it on and make money from it spread through Facebook and Twitter like wild fire.

The change to the terms of use of the popular instant photography app took place very discreetly (if one excepts the online backlash already brewing). As a user I wasn't even aware that any change had occurred. And there is no option to opt out other than by deleting your account. We have kindly been given a month's notice to decide.

Instagram, which is now owned by Facebook, implementing a strategy familiar to its new parent company, is, it seems, already backpedaling, telling the BBC that "the updated policy will not change how it handles photo ownership or who is able to see a user's pictures". It's apparently all to do with better Facebook integration.

As far as I am concerned the damage is done, though, and I have decided to leave the app, as shown by my last post, reproduced above.

I started using the app at the end of March this year, out of curiosity rather than from a real urge to do so. To my surprise I did enjoy the experience and have found it somehow liberating. I got to experiment with the square format which I have grown to like and though I tend to use filters with moderation, they do sometimes help create some interesting effects.

In those eight months or so, I have gathered 252 followers, followed 43 people and uploaded 435 images.

Due to my enjoyment of the medium, I was a little reluctant to delete my account but, as luck would have it, Flickr, where I've had a paying account for several years, just happened to release its new app this week. It looks very good indeed and it includes Instagram-like functions (social media sharing, filters). This finally swayed me.

As one of my contact pointed out, deleting my account without really knowing how the new ToS would be implemented could appear to be a knee-jerk reaction. After all, Instagram may not actually plan to sell our images (most of which are probably not salable anyway) and even if they did, the chances of my own images being chosen are pretty slim.

However, beyond the facts that Instagram has recently been plagued by a lot of spam, that it is not really easy to see your images outside the app (ie online), and that I rather do like the idea of having all my images in the same place, there is a matter of principle at hand here.

For a company to lure people to entrust it with their images and at some point turn around and say that from now on that company will own those images and make money out of them is simply astounding and should not be allowed to happen unchallenged.

Things may have been different if that transfer of ownership had always been there or if they were offering to share the proceed of the potential sales. As it is they would be profiteering from the vision of other people without offering any real compensation.

This is simply not right and this is why I am saying goodbye to Instagram and I hope many others will do the same.

Update (18/12/12 - 22:39): Instagram's co-founder has released a statement explaining that it was all a big misunderstanding. Fair enough. For it's too late though, I won't come back. Because of it's limitations I don't feel a particularly strong brand loyalty to Instagram, certainly not as strong as the one I feel for flickr, which is now offering what I was getting from Instagram without any worry of future cock-ups. So Flickr, it is. It's good that content producers have been perceived to win though in this story. That should make other company think a bit harder before make similar moves in the future. fingers crossed.

Photoshoot - Ross


During the summer I stumbled on a photographic exhibition installed over the 21 floors of an empty office block in Vauxhall. I have to admit I didn't pay much attention to the exhibition so focused was I on the fabulous views of London I had been given access to. I was lucky to have my camera with me, and of course I took loads of pictures.

Having visited the website of the exhibition's organisers, I had discovered that they would be back with a different set of images in December and so, thinking this was too good an opportunity to miss, and despite not knowing if the set up would be similar, I decided to take the chance and bring a model with me for a spot of guerrilla photography.

Ross had never modelled before and was introduced to me by Mark, one of my previous victims, but he took to it like a fish to water. He's even asked for more, so watch this space.

We did get access to the top floor and the views, and it was a beautiful, light day out there, but we couldn't get to the roof. There were also issues with lighting. Knowing This could be a problem, I had brought parts of my lighting kit. Unfortunately, power had been cut off in most of the building and none of the plugs seemed to work. While I did manage to get some decent shots, the experience didn't completely fulfill my expectations. Something not uncommon in life, I hear...

The images can be viewed on Flickr, here.