Creative: Instagram….let me explain…..


I’m on Instagram.

Well, I’m back on Instagram. Well, I have an account on Instagram. I mean there is a photo of me, and an account with my name, but it’s not me. Or at least I’m not the one populating the images. But the images are mine. Does this make sense? If so can you explain it to me? Pretty please.

It started like this.

Person One: “I wish you had an IG account.”
Me: “Never gonna happen.”

Person One: “Well just an account where you can post the images you are making.”
Me: “I can’t do it.”

Person One: Silently types away while not looking at me.
Me: Sitting. Staring at a TV monitor watching unrelated content.

Person One: “Shifter is taken. Shifter Media is taken.”
Me: “Oh well, we tried.”

Person One: “Daniel Milnor is available.”
Me: Silence

Person One: “You have an IG account.”

Within two minutes I got my first email. “What, you’re on IG again…was it peer pressure?” No, it wasn’t. It wasn’t pressure. It was work related. Strategy in some way, but just a need/want to share what I was doing. Not me wanting to share, someone else. And then something odd happened. Standing in the Blurb office one of my co-workers said “Oh hey, Dan’s on IG?” Because I was actually standing there we started talking, about IG, social, photography, stories, etc. Someone asked why I deleted my IG account in the first place and I mentioned it was because I can’t do two things at once. I can’t think about IG and make “real” photos at the same time. It doesn’t work for me. Plus, I have little to no interest in building following or making money from photography. I also have no interest, or capacity, to try and follow anyone else on IG.(I think this really has a lot to do with having Lyme Disease. My brain doesn’t do well with visual chatter.) Finally, I love mystery, and for me things like IG take some of the mystery out of photography. So there is no real reason for me to have an IG account. Me, meaning ME as an individual.

But for others having IG is a perfect fit. It inspires people to create. Share, etc. You know the drill. I do the same thing, basically, but it’s long and slow and drawn out on this website. That’s how I prefer to share. Slowly, selectively.

Something else happened to create an even stranger situation. RIGHT before this happened I made a mental decision to start making work and projects again. To return to the field on short 2-3 day voyages to make, document, print, document and SHARE. Now, I didn’t make the decision to share with IG. Never even crossed my mind. I will share like I always do, here on the site. But what I realized after all this happened was that OTHERS want to see, or know, or learn about what it is I might be doing because what I’m doing isn’t about ME. What I’m doing is about documenting, shaping, editing, sequencing, printing, etc. What I’m doing is about way more than me, and for some people my website is a good thing and for others my website will never exist.

So when I coworker looked at me said “This could really be fun for us,” meaning if I had IG account they would have fun with it, it was milliseconds before I thought “Then just do it.” My needs and strange habits are my own, but I don’t work on my own. I work as part of a team.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. WFC’s? Good point. It’s not like I’m going to become a sensation on this program, but I don’t think that’s the point.

I just went online and looked at an IG account for a photographer I really respect and admire. His account is a portfolio. None of the images were made in real time or made with a phone. His feed is comprised of the work he is doing for commercial clients. I’m sure when the work has been used by the company he then has someone put a single edit on IG. He uses IG as just another portal for people to see the work. Now I’ve had ZERO need to do something like this in years, but the one thing I did take away from it is that IG is clean. Cleaner than this site, so if I had a need for galleries I could either build them here, or use something like IG. For a moment I wondered what it would look like to see a dozen edits from a long-term story resting on IG. A curated IG feed, not a stream of random. It’s an interesting thought to consider using it this way, as opposed to just posting random shit, although I think there is something more honest about random.

Thinking this made me check the website of another photographer I really admire. An adventure guy. Guess what. His website is stale. Old. Hasn’t been updated in eons. Not that the work isn’t great but you know he doesn’t really need the site anymore. His IG feed has seven figures of followers. Who needs a website when you have…..that. I get it. His feed is also a “best of” not a stream of random. Highly curated.

But this entire experience is strange for me. I’m glad someone thinks it would be fun for me to have an IG account, but I feel bad that they are posting the work and not me, almost like I’m a burden, which doesn’t feel good. So know now I will need to be the one to post, but I’m aiming at the more curated feed.

PS: I think I have my first project picked out. A return of sorts…

PS: UPDATE: It has been several days since I wrote this post. I have fewer images and more followers. How anyone knew I was on IG again is beyond me, and frankly it’s kinda creepy. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I was told I couldn’t use my desktop to access the app, which meant I was going to terminate this little experiment before it got started. Turns out there are 3rd party apps I can use. So, instead of transferring images to my phone I can just pull from folders on my desktop and upload. This is odd for me, for sure, but what really makes it awkward is that I don’t plan on following along. Other people I mean. Even those I like in real life. It’s nothing personal. Again I think it is tied to my “Lyme Brain” that forced me to make all these changes three years ago. It’s just my sanity on the line. Of course I say this now. The plan is to upload stories. The downside of this. My stories are old. The upside. I have to go make new ones, once again, which is a bit terrifying.

Hey look, a rabbit hole!

30 Comments on “Creative: Instagram….let me explain…..”

  1. If it isn’t a rabbit hole, it’s something shiny. Don’t let yourself get hung up on it. IG is the only “social network” I still participate in. My use is infrequent at best these days and I’ve scaled way back on what I post and why.

    1. Sean,
      It already bothers me. I’m just posting stories. When I run out I’ll do more. That is the plan for right now. Meaning Sept. 22 at 9:54AM.

        1. Sean,
          Oh ya. It’s the ONE I kept. Easy to send links. But, now that I’m on IG again….woohhoo big deal…..I probably don’t need Twitter.

  2. Hi Dan, many of the younger guys I met during my brief stay at Falmouth Uni are using IG. Some just blasting a mix of daily stuff and work stuff, others have separate accts for work and personal and others are using it for project specific feeds. One of my favourites is a girl called Florence Beasley who has been shooting a project on an Xpan on a local farming community. Lovely way to updating a long term project

  3. I’ve been on and off Flickr 3 times or more.
    Now I’m back on. Just to “read” pictures, so I think it’s best to stay now although the latest ‘news’ tells me 500 million accounts are hacked on Y.h..
    Delete it again…. for sure..(?) Oh man this internet can kick your legs…

    1. Reiner,
      I think of this stuff and my mind drifts to your daughter’s work…..THAT’s what I want.

  4. I’m following you because I want to see your photography (and other projects), and I rarely go to any websites that aren’t wikipedia, reddit or facebook. It’s not that I don’t want to; I just don’t think to. So, there’s that.

    1. Jeffrey,

      It’s true. Websites feel slow and bulky now. That’s what I like about them, but not everyone likes what I like……

  5. Where does one go, in this day in age, to engage in genuine criticism and conversation about photography?
    I mean, I’ve found from trial that the majority of conversation about photography on most social media is the furthest from genuine.. it’s a bummer because in the early days of sites like flickr, the conversation seemed real. It seemed to me that people actually sat with a photo for a bit before commenting. The scroll-glance-“great capture!” nature of instagram and other sites nowadays is very disappointing.
    What would you say to someone looking for some real community? Is there anywhere to find this online?

    1. Tyler,
      Ya, social isn’t the perfect place. I find that the best dialogue about photography comes from small, face-to-face meetings. I went to a small book gathering in Sydney a few months ago. Everyone brings two books then explains why they brought those books. Then they swap. It was refreshing. Book geeks, for sure, but in the best way. What changed with online photography was what changed with online life. People began to realize the power of following when it came to selling themselves and their work, so suddenly you had the facade being built around us. Building following and making great photographs are two different things. Check out Andy Adams at Flak for curated IG things. He’s a good guy to follow anyway. Smart, industrious, explorer of new things with potential.

      1. I can’t count how many times I’ve been told I “must check out this photographer” to have the leading justification for that statement being “he has 7k followers on IG.”
        It’s crazy how obvious the separation of those two things are (following and photographic abilities), yet most people treat them as one and the same. I was certainly once guilty of this.. but i’m grateful for thinkers as yourself who’ve allowed me to step back and see whats really going on. From that understanding, i’ve been able to use the tools in a way that vibe with my values. And it seems you’ve done the same.
        Thanks for the recommendations- i will for sure check them out.

        1. Tyler,
          Yep. Typically following and quality of imagery are separate things, but the funny part of today is that the quality of the work doesn’t matter much anymore, at least when it comes to the business of photography. I’ve used this word before but “scaleable” is the new catch word of the day in the creative field. If you have 7k followers then client A thinks “Oh, his followers are our new audience.” Everyone plays along with the charade. The work sucks but who cares? I’ve seen this exact thing happen over and over and over the past few years. This is why I don’t listen to photographer complain about the industry anymore. It’s their(our) fault. Entirely. For playing along with this game.

    1. Scotty! LONG time no see. How is the frigid North? How is life? Hope you are well and pressing the button a lot.

  6. The problem I’ve found with Insta is that nagging “I wonder how many likes that last post has?” This then is followed by “How come this one only got 100, it’s a million times better than that one of the naked chick?” Etc etc. Maybe the social media sociopath method is best, post and be damned what happens next. Don’t follow just post, don’t like/comment. Just use it as a curated gallery. Interesting idea, it’s going to take restraint but if it ends up as a tool that “forces” you out making new work, then to me that’s a win.

    1. Mark,
      That was part of why I killed it in the first place. That feeling is almost impossible to avoid. I’m attempting to do it now by NOT paying attention to the feed, at all. It’s a total dick move but for my sanity I have to do it. I’m admitting to being the sociopath. Take you for example. We have a lot in common, at least I think we do. I’d love to hang out when I come to the UK, but I can’t follow you online. My brain won’t handle it. Blog is one thing, IG is another.

  7. I very much appreciated Tyler’s thoughts on criticism and conversation about photography. Where does one go to? After half an hour thinking about the Y 500b hack I was done, deleted the Flick(r) account for the 4th and definitive time now. Is flickering switching on and off? Dan is right: social and online isn’t the place to discuss work anymore. I will stock some more photo books and start “reading” more on paper, what a potty though, what a missed opportunity we missed building an internet which can serve all of us.

    1. Reiner,
      I think most of the groups like Flickr are based on consumer photographers, or amateurs. This is itself is a great thing. Cool to see so many rabid photographers. But many of these folks might not have studied photography in any way shape or form, and much of their knowledge comes from the group itself, so intense dialogue about imagery isn’t what will emerge. Then you get into what images mean, how to actually verbalizes this, where images fit in, historically, etc. What I find is most people don’t have any interest in this stuff. They just want f/stops, filters, gear, gear, gear.

  8. You are never to blame. Many people find social media noisy and time sucking and they have nothing to do with Lyme disease. Anyway, if you are just using it one way which is for posting, that’s fine. I’m sure notifications are turned off. You go man 💪🏻

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