Instagram

instagram-logoInstagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them either publicly or privately on the app, as well as through a variety of other social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr. People can upload photos or videos to Instagram and share them with their followers or with a select group of friends. They can also view, comment and like posts shared by their friends on Instagram. Originally, a distinctive feature was that it confined photos to a square shape, similar to Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid images, in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio typically used by mobile device cameras. In August 2015, version 7.5 was released, allowing users to post photos captured in any aspect ratio. Users can also apply digital filters to their images.

Instagram was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and launched in October 2010 and acquired by Facebook in April 2012 for approximately one billion dollars in cash and stock. By December 2010, Instagram had 1 million registered users. In June 2011, Instagram announced it had 5 million users, and it passed 10 million in September of the same year. In April 2012, it was announced that over 30 million accounts were set up on Instagram. In December 2014, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom announced that Instagram has 300 million users accessing the site per month. Instagram announced that 100 million photographs had been uploaded to its service as of July 2011. This total reached 150 million in August 2011. By May 2012, 58 photographs were being uploaded and a new user was being gained each second. The total number of photographs uploaded had exceeded one billion.

While Instagram has a neutral gender-bias format, 68% of Instagram users are female while 32% are male. Instagram’s geographical use is shown to favor urban areas as 17% of US adults who live in urban areas use Instagram while only 11% of adults in suburban and rural areas do so. While Instagram may appear to be one of the most widely used sites for photo sharing, only 7% of daily photo uploads, among the top four photo-sharing platforms, come from Instagram. Instagram has been proven to attract the younger generation with 90% of the 150 million users under the age of 35. From June 2012 to June 2013, Instagram approximately doubled their number of users.

There are many features and tools that come with Instagram. Users can upload photographs and short videos, follow other users’ feeds and geotag images with longitude and latitude coordinates, or the name of a location.

The new explore tab was introduced in mid-2012 in which 21 photos are featured when a user clicks the tab second from the left on the bottom bar of the Instagram app. The photos must be of a public user whose profile is not set to private. This section of Instagram is where users can search for specific users or particular hashtags that interest them.

Instagram offers a number of photographic filters that users can apply to their images. The filters are:

  • Normal: No filter applied
  • 1977: The increased exposure with a red tint gives the photograph a rosy, brighter, faded look.
  • Amaro: Adds light to an image, with the focus on the center.
  • Brannan: Increases contrast and exposure and adds a metallic tint.
  • Earlybird: Gives photographs an older look with a sepia tint and warm temperature.
  • Hefe: Hight contrast and saturation, with a similar effect to Lo-Fi but not quite as dramatic.
  • Hudson: Creates an “icy” illusion with heightened shadows, cool tint and dodged center.
  • Inkwell: Direct shift to black and white – no extra editing.
  • Kelvin: Increases saturation and temperature to give it a radiant “glow”.
  • Lo-fi: Enriches color and adds strong shadows through the use of saturation and “warming” the temperature.
  • Mayfair: Applies a warm pink tone, subtle igniting to brighten the photograph center and a thin black border
  • Nashville: Warms the temperature, lowers contrast and increases exposure to give a light “pink” tint – making it feel “nostalgic”.
  • Rise: Adds a “glow” to the image, with softer lighting of the subject.
  • Sierra: Gives a faded, softer look.
  • Sutro: Burns photo edges, increases highlights and shadows dramatically with a focus on purple and brown colors.
  • Toaster: Ages the image by “burning” the center and adds a dramatic vignette.
  • Valencia: Fades the image by increasing exposure and warming the colors, to give it an antique feel
  • Walden: Increases exposure and adds a yellow tint.
  • Willow: A monochromatic filter with subtle purple tones and a translucent white border.
  • X-Pro II: Increases color vibrance with a golden tint, high contrast and slight vignette added to the edges.
  • Slumber: Desaturates the image as well as adds haze for a retro, dreamy look – with an emphasis on blacks and blues.
  • Cream: Adds a creamy look that both warms and cools the image.
  • Ludwig: A slight hint of desaturation that also enhances light.
  • Aden: This filter gives a blue/green natural look.
  • Perpetua: Adding a pastel look, this filter is ideal for portraits

Another feature, the Lux effect, allows you to quickly adjust the exposure and contrast through a simple 100-point slider. This editing tool allows you to control the brightness to the saturation levels of each photograph.

Initially a purely photo-sharing service, Instagram incorporated video sharing in June 2013, allowing its users to record and share videos lasting for up to 15 seconds. The addition was seen by some in the technology media as Facebook’s attempt at competing with Twitter’s Vine video-sharing application. In the early quarter of 2016, Instagram increased the 15 seconds limit on videos to 60 seconds.

On December 12, 2013 at the press event in New York, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom announced the introduction of private photo and video sharing feature called Instagram Direct. In September 2015, Instagram Direct received a major update, adding new features such as instant messaging, adding more than one user & sharing more than one photos in a single conversation, and sharing post & profiles from feeds directly to the user.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you have an Instagram account?
  2. If so, what kind of pictures do you post? Examples: cat pictures, selfies, inspirational quotes
  3. Were you shocked that more Instagram users are female than male?
  4. Do you have a favorite filter to use on pictures?
  5. What is your favorite feature or tool to use on Instagram?
  6. Do you have any favorite famous people that you follow on Instagram?