Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What Instagram has taught me

This whole thing surprised me.

Last January for my birthday, I got my first smartphone. I wanted an iPhone in part because many of my friends were on Instagram, the social network app that revolves around photos taken with your phone. And at the time, Instagram was only available for iPhones.

Well since then, I have not been as revolutionized by the social network itself (though it is my favorite) as much as what it has taught me about photographing life. Instagram has dispelled 5 myths, I've found, which for me equals a little bit of a personal historical revolution: I have a full year's worth of captured moments of my real, everyday life, most of which would never have been considered camera-worthy in my previous existence.

I'm in awe of how I feel about it, really. In other words, this is a post very close to my heart. My life has never been caught in glimpses like it has been in the past year. And to think it was wholly on accident. When I scroll back through the year, I'm humbled and grateful for every snap.

Myth #1: Cameras are for occasions.

But Instagram has taught me that every day is an occasion. Every breath, really. In fact, I've learned that the "ordinary" is really the most beautiful, the most real.

a. she loves reading. reads all the time. this is how i'll remember much of her childhood.
b. i remember the night he wouldn't go to sleep. i invited him to sit on the kitchen counter with me. he's wearing a tee shirt he made in preschool for the thanksgiving feast.
c. we always laugh at candyland. best game, though we lost the ice cream floats card.
d. her amazing, creative style is not even hindered by rainy days. those legs, those knees are in between little and big.

Myth #2: Everyone should be smiling.

But Instagram has taught me that part of life worth capturing is the melancholy, the strife, the grief. All of these emotions are just as beautiful and just as important to our histories as the happy, clean ones.

a. i remember the day we went to frozen yogurt. she wasn't happy with me and i was trying to win her over by chatting and buying her something with sprinkles. this photo represents the blurry wall that often exists between us, and how i find her so beautiful and yet unreachable at times.
b. it was memorial day when we came home to find his turtle Rocky has passed away. this was the burial site.
c. i remember the day he cried after realizing that someday, though in the distant future, his sister would leave for college and he'd be left behind.
d. you'd think that in Hawaii, the grouchiness would stay away. but she felt better hiding behind her daddy's hat.

Myth #3: I'm always the photographer, never the subject.

But Instagram has taught me that capturing my own many moods and moments is a historical account that I want and love. It's like a visual journal, really, chronicling my days. In our regular camera history, I'm in about 0.001% of the photos.

a. we were at a campground with friends, everyone playing in a dry ravine until dusk. i was playing with the sun and my new phone.
b. i was at a cafe with shauna, trying the no-heat-curls, which became my favorite hair trick.
c. i was at the local petting zoo having a great day with my children.
d. i got this souvenir in the airport as we were about to fly home, hearts full from a great family vacation.

Myth #4: You take pictures when you're away from home.

But Instagram has taught me that seemingly ordinary shots in the house are extra valuable because our home is where we live.

a. one day i'll miss the squashed cushions and tiny toes.
b. he drew hairs on his chest with a marker. enough said.
c. she made a campout under the kitchen table to listen to daddy play guitar before bedtime.
d. snuggly moments with my littles are a priceless part of my days.

Myth #5: You take pictures when you are in a place of interest.

But Instagram has taught me that a place of MY interest is in my car. Though it's my second home, I can't recall ever in my life taking a photo with a real camera in my car. And now, I can't believe how many I have snapped. Again, it is where we live. My car time with my kids is precious and short. It is worth remembering.

a. she snapped one of me on the drive to school.
b. i do a lot of good thinking in this seat.
c. my man likes to check on the surf now and then.
d. the makeup mirror is my friend.
e. these two right after pick up. i'm so happy to have them back after a day at school.
f. road trip to grammy's house.
g. melancholy as usual.
h. moments when i get to mother their friends is a blessing.
i. let's not forget how much eating we do in the car. he loves tacos.

Not a single one of these photos in these five collages would have been captured had I not been using my phone camera, and most of the time, I used my phone camera for Instagram. Such a happy accident. I've never had a photographic legacy like this before.

What about you? Have you changed the way you capture your life now that we have phone cameras with us pretty much always?



  1. Oh that hairy chest - that's so funny!

  2. So true! I didn't think about Instagram changing the way I view picture taking, but it absolutely has as well! Thanks for sharing these thoughts! (eafne on Instagram)

  3. I'm trying to follow you on Instagram, but I can't find your username. Help a girl out?

  4. i totally agree.
    i was never good with remembering to bring my camera or take pictures, but this has TOTALLY changed my life in that area.
    i love it SO very much!

  5. I love this list! All so true! I think social media gets lambasted so often for being a waste of time but all of these reasons show how it can be such a beneficial thing when used wisely.

  6. I think you captured it perfectly. I struggle with silly questions like--is it shallow of me to take a picture of myself? And how often? My kids rarely smile for the camera and I've learned to capture that for what it is. I think social media is a tool and can be used for good things.

  7. Love this post so much!!!! Also love your Instagram. And your Blog. And your words... and everything else! So thankful that I found your little space on the interent. It truly is wonderful!
    also love your collage talent! ;)

  8. Oh how I love instagram!

  9. this is the greatest post! it is soooooo true. i'm so grateful for all the little moments that i capture on my phone. they're the best moments.

  10. I love this post! It is so true. I should start following you on Instagram! I still have found that there are those shots that I want to keep private but I want to take to document special moments. Also, my husband doesn't want his photo posted anywhere, so I also use an additional photo app for a 365 that I keep private. When I look over both of these apps it is truly amazing to be able to "leaf" through the photos and re-experience the moments. I think taking my DSLR with me everywhere and seeing life through that lens first taught me and showed me that beauty is everywhere and in every moment, but with my phone, I don't feel it has to be perfect. I can just snap the moment. I just love photography in general and what it has taught me about life and the God who created it!

  11. You captured how I feel about Instagram/iPhone pics spot on! It's completely changed how and what I document. I love having the ability to capture an every day moment right on my phone (which I almost always have with me) and document something I might easily forget. I don't carry my big dog camera as much as I used to, which bothers me, but you can't beat the convenience and fun factor of so many camera phone apps. I wish I had in Instagram filter on me in real life--ha! Oh---I'm a recent convert and fast fan of the no-heat, low headband curls--such a game changer!

    How special for you to have all those moments from your past year recorded.

  12. Ohhh I love this! I think instagram is by far my favorite 'social media' thing. There's so much everyday beauty and emotion I notice through that lens. love this post!

  13. The Myth#2 photos made me tear up! Nate looking at his turtle's grave!--oh! Lovely post.

  14. best post, leslie. love it. i echo it all! xo

  15. yes!
    i love how you said this all so perfectly!

  16. well said.
    good job putting what many of us use instagram for into words.
    you're a clever little fox.

  17. I love this. So completely true. Every word. I am utterly addicted to my iPhone, but I believe it's 98% because of my camera ability and instagram. :)

  18. Yes. I love this. I bothers me when people hate on IG or call it a time sink. I mean, I get how it can be but I think we will look back years from now and be so thankful for those minutes we "wasted.,," I love your rich perspective.

  19. Great post. While I cant use IG (because my phone is a basic, run of the mill one that takes cruddy pictures) I am quite envious of everyone who can. The budget will, by no means, support an Iphone. But I love seeing everyone else's world this way-snippets of life. And the filters and different things you can do with the pictures are great.
    You are my favorite red headed lady. I mean that. Have a lovely weekend!

  20. true. I'm going to have Steve read this so maybe he can begin to grasp the importance of instagram. :)

  21. You make me want to instagram again. This causes me to see that my ordinary life...with forts under tables, hats covering grumpy faces, and shaved eyebrows is worth capturing because IT'S MINE.

    Great post.

  22. Very great job well done! I dream to become a famous photographer someday. I think its a very interesting and fun hobby to become busy with. I could make a blog about my work just like what you are doing now. Keep it up!
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  23. life is short so let all the moments be captured because this is what makes our life complete. we can never go back to those wonderful moments we shared with special people in a special pace or to times when were happy being alone and just enduring every emotions we feel but through capturing those moments we can now always look back..and those moments are the one that could put a smile on our lips or tears on our eyes..

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  24. i love your blog, it made me realize that small things are the one that could make a huge impact in life. The moments we share with our love ones are indeed PRICELESS!!

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  28. I love this line of yours "Instagram has taught me that every day is an occasion. Every breath, really. In fact, I've learned that the "ordinary" is really the most beautiful, the most real". . . Things end but memories will never fade. . i will follow you in instagram.
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