Some thoughts about In$tagram / by Josh Trudell

Realizing that it is already mid-December makes me want to go find a big blue call box. When the hell did this happen? It is that time, though, and a good time to take a minute. I can look at this year as one that has been generally pretty good on a professional level, if occasionally confusing.

I started out with a site that wasn’t active and was difficult to update (and for a buyer, to use). Now, I’ve got my own site (version 2.0) which is much easier to use and buy from. And, I had my first public photo show. Things are improving.

Part of marketing my photography more has been figuring where and how to show it.

There are SO MANY options: Flickr. Picasa. Facebook. Twitter. 500px. Coroflot. The list goes on and on.

Which means, in a way, it was good news that the news came out this week about Instagram’s change in policy (which was made after Facebook’s purchase of the company).

In their own words: "To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you."

In my (admittedly blue) words: Get fucked.

Now, I’m not an Instagram user. Never have been (and now, never will be). I’ve got no real use for an app that makes photos look like my mother’s 1970s Polaroids.

Everyone has their own ways of making photographs. Speaking just for myself, I don’t believe that the effects that make the picture. Sometimes they can bring added dimensions. But if the photo sucks, no filters are going to save it.

But the larger issue is this: No one has the right to use my work for free, especially when they are using it to pimp their own stuff. And I’ll never start using something that thinks it has the right to do so.

Do I put photos on Facebook? Yes. Now, that would seem to be a different opinion on the same subject. But – my photos there are heavily watermarked and low-resolution. They aren’t much use for anything other than decorating my fan page and pointing people to my home page.

I don’t expect everything on the web to be free – I pay for my site hosting, my Flickr Pro account and my Photocrati theme. I have taken advantage of things online that were offered for free – sites such as dafont or the Green Bulb Gang.

But I’m not offering – and certainly not for corporations who could buy and sell my photo gear without thinking twice.

Photography is my passion, and I spend enough time thinking about my photos to consider them – if not children, certainly close friends. People who think they can abuse them piss me off and make me start calling lawyers.

John Scalzi recently posted some thoughts on the subject when someone asked him to write for free. I highly recommend them, but to sum it up: Fuck you, pay me.

EDIT: Apparently it didn't take long for Instagram to figure out that this posture is a failure. They released a statement today saying, in part:

The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question.


Ownership Rights Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed.

Interesting to see them back down so quickly  - but I wonder how things will go once they are completely under the Facebook umbrella.  I expect it will take some time for them to rebuild consumer trust.