Unless you’ve been living under a rock, in which case you don’t get a reliable WiFi connection, you’ve probably heard of Instagram. It’s one of the many ubiquitous photo apps that lets you put various filters on your plain-old photos and then share them with followers. Instantly, that shot you took of your morning bowl of cereal looks dramatic, tinged with a faux-vintage glow, worthy of a Food & Wine spread. And you, you look like you live a life of unequivocal glamour.
The news that Kodak filed for bankruptcy last week, and the continuing reports of the once all-powerful company’s struggle for survival in a sepia-filtered world, is further proof that regular old film—and regular old picture-taking—just doesn’t cut it anymore. Kodak-Eastman didn’t adapt quickly enough to the wave of digital camera technology a few years back, and they were effectively blindsided by the social media takeover, in particular, that little ol’ Instagram app which, as of this week, has received 300 million page views. According to VentureBeat, Instagram photos are shared on Facebook at a rate of six photos per second. That’s half a million photos every day. Instagram has nearly one million Twitter followers, too. Kodak-Eastman, 4,963.
I was out with friends recently, looking on as one of them stared down her nose at her iPhone the entire night, taking shots of her dinner plate, her drink, her boyfriend, the pendant light that hung above our table. She Instagrammed them (yes, ‘Instagram’ is widely accepted as a verb) and added them to her photo feed in minutes. Voila, her mundane night out was the stuff of legend. Or at least, the stuff of a fabulous Instagram feed. Last week, another friend took a gorgeous shot of a fiery sunset spilling watercolor streaks over the city’s skyline. “An unfiltered Philly sunset,” she captioned it.
To think, we now have to clarify when beautiful shots have been left untouched by iPhone apps.
I’ve been enticed by Instagram. The view from my window, my clothes, heck, even my husband, all look better with the app’s filters, romantic sepia-tinted lighting, and rustic borders. Ironically, we want the photos we take with our cutting-edge digital cameras and iPhones to look like they’re 100 years old.
But we’ll continue to dress our photos in these cloaks of faux antiquity, and we’ll keep exhibiting our faux-glamorous lives to friends and strangers through our Instagram feed. We won’t tell our followers that, in actuality, the glass of wine that glows so fantastically in the filtered photo tasted too fruity, or that the view from our office window looks dirty and deserted without the antique border and red tint filter. They probably assume as much. If only Kodak would.