I do not like image filtering services like Instagram and their ilk, because the purpose of those services is to change reality and alter in situ facts. Why bother preserving in image if you don’t want it saved and displayed with the highest possible, non-filtered, quality? I recently mentioned my concern in the comments flow for this article:
Here’s what I don’t get about services like Instagram — we always want better cameras with higher megapixel counts and clearer optics — and then many of us “dumb down” those crisp and beautiful images with predefined filters from services like Instagram. Why? If you are preserving a moment in history — why are you coloring that moment, and inherently changing it, to look like a 1970’s Polaroid? Why are you losing all the magnificence of the original shot that your camera is able to create?
I realize a lot of people love altering their reality and they have no future use for the recorded truth, but I was pleased to learn I was not alone in the loaming wilds against Instagram-like manipulations of what is known and what must be saved in all circumstances:
Instead of having a body of work to look back on, you’ll have a sad little collection of noisy digital files that were disposable when you made them, instantly forgotten by your followers (after they gave you a thumbs up), and now totally worthless. You’ll wish you’d have made those images on a Pentax K1000 and Tri-X (at the very least or most depending on your age and perspective), but the times you failed to record properly will be long gone. But don’t listen to me, listen to all your Insta-friends. They love you.
If you are going to take a moment out of your day to take the time to preserve what you are seeing — why would you then want to change that perception with a false filter?
There’s a reason old photographs look the way they do — with patina and quality loss — because that’s the best technology could offer at the time. Understanding those limits helps us divine the past and contextualize what has been recorded for us.
When we — as stubborn, modern, kids with too much technology on our hands — do not use the fullest extent of our cameras to record the truth as it stands, and we instead intentionally choose to dumb-down our imagery to match some sort of ill-faceted fascination with a non-nostalgic past that does not belong to us, something lossy is lost in the misbegotten translation between artistry and infatuation.
If you care about your life, and your truth — and if you want to share your current memories with others in the future who may not know or understand you — then honor your images by preserving them all at the highest possible quality in every station. The future will not be able to go back and undo the degradation Instagram does to your photos because, once the original quality is lost, you can never get it back again — just like the memory you are so rightly trying to preserve in the first place.