I finally gave in and got an Instagram account (@anisotropicimages). But before you roll your eyes, hear me out. It’s actually been a great tool for developing my artistic vision.
Instagram has a reputation problem, at least amongst “serious” photographers. A quick look and it’s not hard to see why, what with all of the food-pics, butt-shots, selfies and cat photos, but this sells the site short. There are a plethora of great visual artists on Instagram, so it can be a source of inspiration. For me, it’s the input that is the most valuable feature of Instagram. Having a place to put up random observations has driven my artistic “seeing”. I find myself more likely to notice the striking amongst the mundane and hence I look more. Posting artistic observations to Instagram becomes a reinforcing behavior.
For instance, I’ve been observing light lately as in the shots below. I find myself looking for patterns, shadows and coloration, both from reflection wash and diffraction. These are reflections of light on different wall surfaces in my home. They are pure light with no “form” to interact with outside of the wall.
This in turn has me looking at the play of light over other surfaces. Here, form plays a more obvious role and the interplay of light on the form and the water add abstraction.
And then finally asking how could I reduce the interplay of light and form, while keeping elements of both?
Here light and form each contribute equally to the final image. Could I go through these exercises without Instagram? Sure. But having a goal of posting daily during the week motivates me to look for new patterns, and hence to see. Thus, Instagram becomes a tool of artistic development for me. Just don’t expect any cat photos.
Lucas James is a fine art photographer based in Manchester, NH.