Instagram is an “app” for smartphones, which allows you to snap a photo, apply a filter effect (if you like) and upload it to the Instagram service. From there, you can share the photos on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and a bazillion other social media services.

Let’s face it: there are only a few reasons for posting photos online. They are – in no particular order…

  • To share snapshots with friends and family who can’t be with you. The modern equivalent of showing people your holiday snaps, but one at a time, as you’re there, and with the option for your friends to avoid having to look at them if they don’t want to.
  • To promote yourself as a photographer and try to sell your work.
  • To show off how good a photographer you are.
  • To show off how good your life is.
  • Or to show off.

Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones, and the fact that the app and the service are free, Instagram has gained a massive following: so large, that it was bought by Facebook for a billion dollars last year.

The service includes a social aspect, as you can have contacts in the app, whose photos you see and who can “follow” you to see your photos as you post them. I have been a member for a while now and use the app as a way of sharing little snippets of my daily life; I’ll be the first to admit that they’re rarely of ay creative merit: they’re snapshots, that’s all, and mostly unworthy of comment.

It’s nice to see random snippets of other people’s lives and I like it when a friend or acquaintance shares a photo of something special. As in all walks of life, there is plenty of dross out there: be it a celeb photographing themselves reflected in a mirror (ahem) or yet another cat photo.

Instagram have today extended their service to incorporate a wider range to their social features: namely, the opportunity to target who you’re taking the photos for. It’s a nice idea and one which is obviously intended to encourage existing users to badger their friends and family to sign up too. I won’t be so cruel, but will follow their success in this direction with avid interest.

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