mobile photography technology, culture and community
www.dpreview.com

Instagram: Should you stay or should you go?

33
National Geographic’s blacked out post protesting Instagram’s new Terms of Service has received over  37,000 likes and 3,000 comments.  The @natgeo account posted this notice after Kevin Systrom’s clarification.

It has been an eventful two days since Instagram published its new – and controversial – Terms of Service.  The changes spurred a number of successful photographers and organisations to ‘black-out’ their accounts in protest of what was seen as an over-reach of photographers’ rights to their own images.  Later, Kevin Systrom, the co-founder of Instagram, responded to the online panic by clarifying parts of the Terms, noting:

Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.

While this clarification has allayed concerns for some, others, like National Geographic, have already made up their mind that Instagram has gone too far. 

Personally, I am disappointed by the new Instagram terms, as I think all photographers should have a say in how their photos are used and have access to profits if they are monetised.  But I can’t say I’m surprised at the recent developments.  Reading Systrom’s comments it is clear that Instagram doesn’t want to sell our photos directly, but rather they want to sell us, the users, by linking our accounts to in-feed advertising.  I imagine this might manifest as something like “Check out these new Nike shoes, as liked by @mishobaranovic” as you are scrolling through your feed.  Think Facebook sponsored posts, with even smaller thumbnails.

I’m not leaving Instagram, but going forward, I will carefully consider which photos I like, comment on, and tag. The changes will make me – and other Instagram peers, no doubt – increasingly sceptical users. And my opinions may alter, once the changes are in effect.     

For those still undecided, here are a few ideas and tips that might help you make a decision one way or another.

So you’re staying?

For some users the social experience and community provided by Instagram is more than enough justification to stay on the platform, regardless of future advertising changes. 

But for those concerned about photo copyright issues, there are a few things you can do to potentially discourage the linking of your images to third-party advertising.

First, you can add a watermark through a dedicated app like PhotoMarkr (which is also free) or a text/collage app like PicFrame

PhotoMarkr lets you customize your own copyright notice on your images.
You can adjust the opacity easily.

PhotoMarkr isn’t the prettiest of apps but it does the job. The Copyright Notice screen lets you add your name, change the colour and type of font and also add an image if desired.  You can also change the size and opacity of the text in the app. PhotoMarkr also saves your settings for the next image. 

PicFrame is not a dedicated watermarking app but it has advanced text tools which can be used to customise watermarks.  I like using it because you have endless colour and font controls to help your watermark match the photograph.  There’s nothing worse than an ugly watermark distracting from a beautiful image.

PicFrame offers advanced colour and font control over your watermark.
It's easy to add a watermark that's not overly distracting. 

I’ve also heard other photographers say that they crop their images when they upload to Instagram to protect the integrity of their original landscape or portrait photograph.

Had enough and you’re going?

If you are jumping off Instagram the first thing to do is back up your photos.  There are a number of apps and services that do this for you. The most well-known is the Instaport site which automates the backup process. It also lets you save images to Facebook, Flickr or your hard drive. The site does appear to be struggling to keep up with recent demand at present, so you might have to wait a few days.  Remember you have until January 16 until the new Terms of Service go into effect.

Once you’ve backed up your photos, the easiest way to delete your account is to head to your Instagram web profile (www.instagram.com/username), click on Edit Profile and then I’d Like To Delete My Account in the bottom right-hand corner (circled in red in the example below).

To delete your account first click on your profile in the top-right corner and select Edit Profile.
In the Edit Profile page, click on the ‘I’d like to delete my account’ link.

So where else can you share your photos?

There are plenty of alternative apps where you can continue to share your photos.

My top pick is EyeEm, a dedicated cross-platform (iPhone, Android and Windows) photo-sharing app from Germany, which has actually been around longer than Instagram.  The app grew organically from the early days of the mobile photography community.  The photo feed is similar to Instagram and lets you like and comment on your friends’ photos.  The app also features live-filters and a well-equipped camera (including edit tools).  Where the app stands out is its almost psychic tagging function which guesses where you are and what you’re up to.  You can also upload portrait and landscape photos.

Oh, and EyeEm’s terms explicitly state that all photographer own their own images. 

My EyeEm profile page, my Flickr profile page and the Starmatic featured page.

My next favourite is the revamped Flickr app (most recently updated for iOS but also available for Android).  After two years of soul-searching, Flickr have triumphantly released a functional, usable mobile version.   This is a powerful app, offering far more functionality than Instagram, with the ability to easily add your photos to groups and sets.  The app also features an advanced camera and the customary filters.  You can read more about the new app in this recent Connect review

As for terms, Flickr affords copyright to the photographer.  They also have an exclusive arrangement with Getty to facilitate licensing of images and currently have a paid PRO subscription which generates revenue to support the site.

The final app I want to mention is the iOS app Starmatic.  It’s the most recent of these three options, and is most similar to Instagram in terms of look and feel.  I haven’t used the service personally (it wouldn’t let me sign up) but I’ve heard positive feedback from other uses about the user interface and quality of photography on the app. The Terms of Service, however, sound quite similar to Instagram’s, especially in terms of worldwide royalty free licensing and sub-licensing.  You can find the terms on the Starmatic website front page.

Let me know your thoughts on the Instagram terms, and whether you’re staying or going in the comments below. You can also continue the discussion in the Mobile Photography Talk forum of this site, or in the Connect Google+ Community.


Misho Baranovic@mishobaranovic, has worked as a photographer for many years and is prominent in the emerging practice of mobile photography. His street photography has been exhibited internationally and in 2011 he held his first solo exhibition, New Melbourne, in Melbourne, Australia. He is a founding member of the Mobile Photo Group, and the author of iPhone Photography.

Comments

Total comments: 33
GeriC
By GeriC (Jan 18, 2013)

Just reading this now as I've been trying various apps and service after deciding to delete all my images off of IG. I am now at EyeEm and after an influx of teens who have been arriving in droves, I'm waiting for the app update which will allow blocking. I also have become more involved in Flickr and like the format there allowing for sets. I also enjoy joining groups that have like interests on Flickr. I still have my IG account but only use it to announce when I've posted a new interview on a mobile photographer on my blog and to visit old IG friends.

0 upvotes
KodaChrome25
By KodaChrome25 (Dec 29, 2012)

If there only was a decentralized photo sharing community....

And, people jumping to EyeEm and Starmatic and Flickr.... how long before The Zuck-off purchases them?

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Mishobaranovic
By Mishobaranovic (Dec 31, 2012)

If only :) I'm not sure what that would look like, it would have to have an interesting funding model to keep it functional. Maybe a very small monthly in-app purchase.

0 upvotes
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (Dec 27, 2012)

Not yet activated my Instagram account, but I get more and more wary about Instagram claims to my photos, my art and my creations!

0 upvotes
JDThomas
By JDThomas (Dec 25, 2012)

The way I look at it, from a business perspective IG gives me a platform to connect with my readers and in order to take advantage of this "free" marketing I have to trade information and possibly be used as a marketing tool for IG. It's really tit-for-tat. I'm not uploading anything that's likely to be sold for any great amount of money in any case.

1 upvote
Mishobaranovic
By Mishobaranovic (Dec 31, 2012)

I agree JD. There's always a trade-off.

0 upvotes
s2art
By s2art (Dec 21, 2012)

I am watching and waiting. Instagram itself for me was/is mainly just some fun. Ive enjoyed seeing the world around me captured and shared by so many talented folks.

One thing that was really starting to irk me was the spamming that seemed to come out fo nowhere. Still the [positives far outweighed the negatives.

I will however focus my energies back to flickr, which for me still is the best "photo" sharing site out there in terms of organisational approach, ease of use and sense of community. The new mobile app is really impressive and allows me to connect and mingle with my network of contacts even more frequently now. I am very pleased about it.

1 upvote
Mishobaranovic
By Mishobaranovic (Dec 31, 2012)

Me too, I've found some incredibly talented photographers through Instagram. The spamming has been painful but I think their trying to get it under control. I'm trying to get back into the Flickr app as well. Looking forward to seeing how the whole community adapts to the influx of mobile imagery.

0 upvotes
heavymeister
By heavymeister (Dec 20, 2012)

I will stay with IG, but want to delete most of my photos. Which is an almost impossible task when you have a couple of hundred photos in your gallery. Once you scroll, scroll, scroll down to way-back-when and delete a photo the gallery afterwards jumps back to the most recent photo.
Is there any tool/website yet to help deleting photo on IG in bulk?

0 upvotes
Mishobaranovic
By Mishobaranovic (Dec 31, 2012)

I don't think there are any tools that let you delete in bulk. Unfortunately IG also caps you once you deleter 10 photos at a time. Making the process even more painful.

0 upvotes
JordiVPou
By JordiVPou (Dec 20, 2012)

Account and app deleted. I don't worry anymore about their ToS.

I know I can still look at lots of interesting photography (mobile or not) out of Instagram, and, absolutely, in a better display quality. And of course, anyone interested in mine, will easily find it where it has always been, in my site.

1 upvote
KirstenAlana
By KirstenAlana (Dec 20, 2012)

I've experienced some discontent with Instagram lately, pre-TOS-change. Yet I have stuck with it and I will because whatever success I have had in mobile photography, both as a teacher/public speaker and as a travel journalist, are largely due to the community and contacts I've made through the app.

Unless Instagram did, directly and outright, without apology, sell my images and exploit my work while cutting me out of any potential profit -- I won't leave. If all they want is my data and my friend's data, that's not worth leaving over. Every social network in existence wants that. FB and their subsidiaries are just the first to so publicly go after it.

I think the panic was largely overblown and I was a bit saddened by so many people's swiftness to jump ship. I did understand their frustration but I do think there's so little loyalty. Anywhere. These days.

For now, I will remain loyal and keep my account.

0 upvotes
Mishobaranovic
By Mishobaranovic (Dec 31, 2012)

I agree, i've had many great opportunities because of Instagram. I was also surprised at how many people have left and it's clearly had an impact on the quality of the work that I'm seeing in the IG stream.

0 upvotes
kikothegnou
By kikothegnou (Dec 20, 2012)

I quite agree with you and I'm a bit surprised with all this sudden hysteria. It's time now - close to the end of the world - to be aware of the various personal datas you post on internet - on any service, especially when free.

If you consider that your photography is valuable, and that this is also a work for you, then I would say take the time to do a personal website, or use Flickr, the pro account is not that much expensive, and - surprise - they are updating their mobile app.

Personally, I never took time to put all my stuff in order, probably as most of us, but this event has me decide finally to work on a decent website, with personal design, to showcase my work.

I never liked Instagram, but I must admit this is quick, simple, and that I discovered and met plenty of incredibly talented persons there. So I stay. I will probably delete most of my photos and keep posting less, and use it mainly to remain connected and… advert myself.

See you around somewhere!

2 upvotes
Mishobaranovic
By Mishobaranovic (Dec 31, 2012)

Yep, personal websites are the only way to create your own user base which can withstand external changes to social networks. I'll look forward to following your work wherever it's posted.

0 upvotes
garethnealon
By garethnealon (Dec 20, 2012)

I was one of the many who took an instant dislike to IG's proposed new T&Cs. I'm on Starmatic & EyeEm also and actually prefer the way those apps work, but I think IG has a better 'community' value to it. My friend counts are quite low compared to IG, so it's not a true comparison, but IG seems to have a lot more interaction between people. That's what I'd miss most about leaving if it came to that.

I work on the edge of the ad industry and thought Kevin Systrom's reply on IG to the negativity, and his advertising model explanation was interesting. I'll hang around to see how it works, but it sounds like it's a "pay-for-more-friends" scheme, a la, the spam we've seen so much of, so I'm not convinced yet. Given his response, it was incredibly silly and short-sighted at best, to word the T&Cs as they have been. Shoulda seen that hoohaa coming!

Great to see the response over all this though. 'People-power' at work! Nice to see people attaching so much value and pride to their images.

1 upvote
njcarron
By njcarron (Dec 20, 2012)

Starmatic's terms of service does come off as similar to Instagram's message, especially when compared to the language of EyeEm and Flickr. In fact, someone tweeted today that it's terms of service "are even worse (than Instagram) and blatantly state they (Starmatic) can use/adapt/modify anything you post." to which Arnaud de Lummen, co-founder of Starmatic, replied, "On Starmatic only, not everywhere or for selling such content to third parties." Of course, terms of service are always open for change.

I BETA test and provide regular feedback to both EyeEm and Starmatic, and wrote a review of Starmatic on WeAreJuxt.com soon after it launched last July. I find the creators of both platforms accessible and engaged with their users, a key component that Instagram strayed away from or maybe never fully valued. I think many loyal Instagram users, especially early adopters, have felt betrayed by the path Instagram has taken. It's understandably hard to look past it's impact on photography, creativity, and sense of community based on the inevitable plan that it would try to make money via advertising : Sept 2011 http://m.adweek.com/news/technology/instagram-ceo-talks-advertising-and-growth-135274

For the time being, I am keeping both of my Instagram accounts live despite the ToS announcement just as I did through the ghost followers phase, Facebook acquisition, Photo Map controversy, and influx of spam. I will continue to be curious to see how this journey and experiment transpires, and look forward to engaging with the mobile photo community outside of Instagram as well.

1 upvote
Mishobaranovic
By Mishobaranovic (Dec 31, 2012)

Thanks for the further info Nicholas, it's always positive to hear that app developers are open to community input. I can't wait to see how this all shakes out next year also. It's definitely going to be event filled. Look forward to following your JUXT contributions also.

0 upvotes
MelissaVincent
By MelissaVincent (Dec 20, 2012)

I have to admit instagram has given me a good scare over the past few days. However, I have made too many connections to leave that quickly. I will wait around and see what changes occur in 2013. Hopefully instagram will go in the right direction, so I can stick around for a little longer.

2 upvotes
Mishobaranovic
By Mishobaranovic (Dec 20, 2012)

I'm very much hoping that myself :)

0 upvotes
Oliver Lang
By Oliver Lang (Dec 20, 2012)

It's really refreshing when people start thinking more about the purpose of each individual service (free or paid) that they use for sharing their images.

When the nature of the service changes the purpose also needs to change. There is not one app or website that will meet all the possible needs and purposes of every photographer.

Consider all these channels as part of your photography kit, and use them appropriately.

0 upvotes
njcarron
By njcarron (Dec 20, 2012)

I like the photography kit analogy. And there is no way any platform is going to be perfect, especially in a dynamic space like interactive media, business and communications. Choose what you value the most and proceed.

1 upvote
AikBengChia
By AikBengChia (Dec 20, 2012)

I'm staying because of the friendship ive made during my time in IG. Sadly some of them left but nonetheless our paths will cross again.

I'll be posting less too & be mindful of the photos i'm posting.

2 upvotes
Oliver Lang
By Oliver Lang (Dec 20, 2012)

My thoughts exactly. Although there was already a difference between what I posted across Flickr and EyeEm - and Instagram.

The fracturing of the community is frustrating for a lot of users.

1 upvote
Mishobaranovic
By Mishobaranovic (Dec 20, 2012)

Thanks AikBeng, I feel the same. I've made really good friendships on the platform. Yes, some are leaving but there are many that only use Instagram to share work and I don't want to lose that connection. And yes, i'll be carefully watching how this all unfolds.

0 upvotes
Daniel K Berman
By Daniel K Berman (Dec 20, 2012)

IG has been the benchmark mobile platform for sharing images for nearly two years now. I've always enjoyed the work of the many talented professional and amateur photographers I follow and interact with on the service. With 100 million users it's obvious there is going to be an absolute flood of great people to meet and images to see every single day. Since I've never actually used the Instagram camera for any of the 700 or so photos I have posted there it really doesn't matter to me whether I "lose" my photos if I delete my account. For now, I'll stay. I'll post less and I'll use it less. All the people I know there I see on Flickr, twitter, FB, Eyeem and elsewhere. No big deal if I never go back. I like IG but I also like bacon and sometimes I just don't eat it when it's too greasy.

1 upvote
Mishobaranovic
By Mishobaranovic (Dec 20, 2012)

it really is a tough call. I'm the same, all my IG photos are uploaded through the Camera Roll so I'm not losing content if I shut it down. The majority of the people i've been following for a long time are in other places but there are more than a few that are only on Instagram and use the platform in interesting and challenging ways. There so much talent on the site that I just can't go yet. But yes, it was a greasy TOS.

0 upvotes
Teddy
By Teddy (Dec 20, 2012)

Staying, but removed all my pics for now.

0 upvotes
Mishobaranovic
By Mishobaranovic (Dec 20, 2012)

Understand, it will be interesting to see how Instagram phrases the revised Terms of Service.

0 upvotes
Photog74
By Photog74 (Dec 19, 2012)

"The @natgeo account posted this notice after Kevin Systrom’s clarification."

Are you sure? I thought they had posted this before the clarification came out. In fact it's quite possible that this notice may have prompted Mr Systrom to write his blog post.

0 upvotes
Mishobaranovic
By Mishobaranovic (Dec 20, 2012)

I've based that from a Mashable article "This Ain't Over: National Geographic Goes Dark on Instagram" which, according to the author, said that the photo was posted "hours after Systrom released his blog post explanation of the Terms of Service."

0 upvotes
RDMPhotos
By RDMPhotos (Dec 19, 2012)

It has been said that instagram is just for idiots and no self respecting photographer would use it.
I don't know about that. I would never say such harsh or mean things.
All I do know is, that I am an intelligent individual and have a high IQ and I am a proud photographer. If it stays or goes, it does not matter to me really. I never use it, never wanted to use it, nor do I ever plan to.

0 upvotes
Mishobaranovic
By Mishobaranovic (Dec 20, 2012)

Yep, I don't know about that either :) There are/were a lot of talented photographers on there. Many of which found their first exposure through the platform. I understand why you don't need it but for some it's become a key stepping stone in their development as photographers.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 33
About us
Sitemap
Connect