I know what you’re thinking. “But it’s so fun! All my photos look so antique and vintage! It makes me feel like a creative butterfly. Look at the lens flares and film grain!”

Please stop it. You’re killing me. You’re killing art.

First off, old things aren’t better. I know, that’s not what the advertising industry and politicians would have you believe. You know, back in their day, grass grew twice as green, butter didn’t make you fat, men were men, boys were men, children were men, women cried more softly, and Santa’s dreams smiled with the joy of a thousand bunny rabbit raindrops on Christmas morning, like a baby infant’s newborn dreams of gumdrops and American flags. It was an era of bygone times: Family values, virgin purity, universal piety, and ever-present poetry.

Except it’s not true. When you click a button to crop your picture of a beer bong square, add white borders, and wash everything out, it doesn’t look “better.” It just looks like ass, and I’m not talking the four-legged gray snorting kind seen on farms. It looks fake-old, and that doesn’t make it nostalgic. You weren’t alive then anyway. Please stop.

Secondly, your “art” sucks. You know why? Because it isn’t yours, and it isn’t art. It’s an algorithm produced by a programmer in silicon valley (or India, I don’t know). Your pretty vintage photos look like everyone else’s. Stop it. Would you value a Picasso if he took a picture of his cat and clicked the “weird” button on his iPhone i4SG3E? No. If you’re going to ruin your photo with faux-antiquity, have the decency to learn to do it yourself. You do not get to become a magical butterfly artist by downloading an app. Tyler Durden was right.

Lastly, you’re killing your photos. While today’s smartphones still trail true digital cameras like a one legged Danny DeVito trails Michael Jordan in free throws — no, really, they aren’t real cameras; stop it — they’re pretty damn good. You know what’s really not good? Taking one of those fairly nice photos and bending it over the bathroom sink by applying permanent destructive edits. You know, so your picture of a Dos Equis bottle looks hip. Like the Arctic Monkeys, but before your square of a boss started listening to them. Someday, you might want a picture of you and your grandma that doesn’t look like your middle school bus driver sat on it all day. Someday, your grandchildren might want to believe you lived in 2012, not 1912. Stop it. That hilarious plumber’s crack you just snapped isn’t from the 50s. No one believes you. That’s just dumb.

You wanna seem artistic by making stuff look messed up? Cool, do it. But just like breaking rules of grammar, you’re only allowed to do it intentionally once you learn the rules that say you shouldn’t. If you can’t make your photo look like crap manually, you shouldn’t be doing it automatically. If you don’t know how to make art without being to photography what Hot Topic is to rebellion (corporate, manufactured, bad), you’re doing it wrong. And for the love of god, please take a step back and think about why you want your pictures to look that way. Think of the consequences. Think of America. Think of the children.

4 Responses

  1. Totally agree with you on every level, great post. I had my own little rant about Instagram this morning, check it out:

  2. THANK YOU for saying this!!

    I’m late to the iPad game and grabbed Instagram, made one pic of my cat and realized I’m so much better than this. I love playing with images in Pixlr (free Photoshop-like editing tool for anyone who doesn’t know) but firmly believe Instagram is a way for bad wanna be amateur photographers to perpetuate their bad “art.”

    It needs to stop. Like now.

  3. I wasn’t even familiar with Instagram, but this made me want to check it out just to enhance my amusement.

    • Neither was Jacob before he wrote it. Funny thing now is that he’s an Instagram user.

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