Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Ahmet Polat on Instagram

Located in Bebek, one of Istanbul's high profile areas, I walk into Lucca, a corner brasserie/restaurant. The owner Cem welcomed me and I asked about the exhibition there. He pointed out that on the left side the "amateurs" hung their work and on the other side were the "professional" fashion photographers.

It was a good thing he told me because looking at the images you wouldn't be able to distinguish who was who.

I hadn't made it to the opening a few weeks earlier. But the idea that Vogue Turkey opened an instagram exhibition had my interest and I wanted to see what this was all about. Obviously they were interested in using the huge community of instagrammers to create some kind of buzz and get people to come to their event. As we all know instagram has become huge globally and not only within the Istanbul creative scene.

What interested me was the fact that the exhibition was a mix of amateurs and professionals showing their images. On the surface this would be considered a light and joyful occasion. "Real " photographers mixed with "amateurs", hanging their work side by side. Looking at some of the work I did get flashbacks of known photographers like Elliot Erwitt or bits of Lee Friedlander.

While walking around I had a flashback of 10 years ago when digital cameras just came on the market and people were saying this would be the end of photography. At that time I was an optimist still believing that it wouldn't matter since it would still take years to develop your own style and reasoning behind the work you would make. But 10 years later and I truly have to give in to the thought that instagram really took away my last hope.

It has become a matter of programming, coding and pre-settings. Within a few more years any person can emulate any photographer's style, lighting and even composition.  Add a bit of augmented reality and people will get a step-by-step tutorial on where to stand, how to bend and maybe even how to interact.

Instagram is photography's worst enemy. Now the only thing that separates us "real " photographers from instagrammers is maybe the intention we have while taking and showing images and the story we would like to convey with it. Within 2 years newspapers, fashion magazines and other media will look towards cheap instagrammers to fill their pages with images that look like Alex Webb or Steve McCurry. Apps will be developed to emulate their styles. Anybody can push the button.

But what I can't grasp is that photographers who have worked 10 to 15 years, maybe even more, to groom their craft, create a vision, fought for a position to convey their ideas are now just giving in, accepting that all those efforts were meaningless. That's what really gets to me.

Now maybe I'm taking all of this a bit too far. Maybe I'm just an elitist who still believes that creativity and vision should be unique and not just a superficial application. If there is another way to look at this development please let me know.

Ahmet Polat


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