Magnum Photographers Give a Breakdown of Instagram

Magnum Photos published an essay where photo journalists David Alan Harvey, Christopher Anderson, and Matt Stuart explained what in their opinion were the advantages of Instagram and how to use it if you are a photographer.

According to the authors of the essay, one of the main advantages of the photo service is absolute freedom of creativity and the possibility to choose which works to show to the audience.

“Before, when I was hired by magazines, there were certain parameters. The director of photography had to like you and then the editor had to like him or her and then the publisher had to worry about the advertisers – so you’re essentially three people removed from your audience. The magazine has an audience but the photographer’s only audience is the people who hired them,” says David Alan Harvey, noting that social networks have changed this. “Whoever loves you actually loves you, they don’t love National Geographic or the Sunday Times, they love you.”

Among the main pieces of advice that the photojournalists gave were not to turn you account into a space for publishing only professional work, but to try to make way for your personal life as well. “I guess the right mix is being myself. I don’t apply an algorithm to it,” Christopher Anderson says. “By nature, that is going to weave in and out of my personal life, pictures that may or may not be ‘professional’, friends and family and little things that are happening to me that day or that I might appreciate or notice.”

Whoever loves you actually loves you, they don’t love National Geographic or the Sunday Times, they love you.

At the same time, they don’t advise you to approach Instagram as a regular photo blog — it is a direct way that leads to making money, Matt Stuart says: “I monetize my audience by selling workshops, books and prints. The beauty of it is you are monetizing the audience in a nice way, you don’t have to pay any rent but you’ve got a store. You just put your product in the window and see if people like it.”

Photographers need to understand that technological development is an inevitable reality, and instead of mourning the end of the beautiful epoch of photography, they better learn to cope with the new opportunities provided by technological progress, Harvey concludes: “Every time you move forward with technology you gain something and you lose something. For the young photographer today what they don’t have any more are the large commissions from the magazines but by having an audience through social media – if you can build an audience, if you are interesting to enough people – you have a lot more control and power than you ever had working for the publishers.”

Cover photo: from Matt Stuart's Instagram

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