How Influencers Are Ruining Photography
It wasn’t that long ago when the word “influencer” wasn’t in most of our vocabularies. However, thanks to the power of social media, influencers not only represent one of the fastest-growing careers in recent memory—but also one of the, well, most influential ones as well.
Some celebrities have jumped on the influencer bandwagon and some influencers have become celebrities in their own right—but either way these individuals are using their power of persuasion to endorse and sell other people’s products right through their Instagram page.
While some see influencers as just adult versions of the popular kids in high school, showing off their new outfit for the day—the industry is far more complex than that. And one of the things that makes certain influencers stand out more than others is the images they use to promote their perfect life and perfect products through social media.
For some super successful influencers, a single post with the right photo can fetch them thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars from eager companies. However, as every influencer knows, the key to the perfect post that will get them sales (and even more followers) is the right photo.
Photography has become such a huge part of the influencer world. Now, there are even influencers teach classes on iPhone photos, creating filters to better image quality and even selling their own “preset” editing tools to help others capture photos that look just like theirs. It has been a major boom to the influencer world—but what exactly are influencers doing to the much older artform of photography?
Unfortunately, for the influencers of the world, no matter how much effort they put into make sure they look picture-perfect in their photos—their obsession with curated images is actually ruining the art of photography, and here’s how.
Things Aren’t Always As They Seem in Influencer World
One of the major criticisms of influencers is that they tend to curate every single thing so that their life seems perfect on social media, even if in reality, it is a mess. In fact, it has even spurned memes that mock “Instagram vs. Reality” on them.
For true photographers, this ultra-curated approach can seem inauthentic. While photographers are no strangers to staging an image, many times that staging is done to create the most beautiful final product possible—not just to sell a makeup brush.
For many photographers, the idea of influencers taking photos for money with their phones and applying a filter instead of taking the time to capture a beautiful photo, editing it and allowing the photo to speak for itself.
However, at the end of the day, photography is an artform used to express oneself. Influencer photos may not have the same depth and artistic elements behind them as some iconic point-and-shoot works of art, but they are becoming more and more popular and prevalent on photo sharing sites. This can give off the impression that the artform of traditional photography is “dead” compared the new photos you see today in your Instagram feed.
The good news is, this is only really an impression.
Is it Really Influencers or is it Just Instagram?
Instagram is a revolutionary social media tool that puts photos at the forefront of every post. In many ways, Instagram has helped photographers and photography in general, allowing passionate photographers to get their work out in front of larger audiences. In fact, I have discovered numerous fresh, talented photographers through Instagram and enjoyed getting to see their work on the platform.
It is true, influencers have a different approach to photos than professional artists, but at the end of the day, everyone on Instagram is posting in an effort to share their work. For an influencer, their work may be a picture posing in #sponsored leggings in front of the Grand Canyon, with perfect product placement, their own presets and plenty of filters.
A photographers work may be a image of the same spot at the Grand Canyon at night using a special technique to slowly capture the changing night sky.
Sure, each individual has a different approach to capturing an image in the same place, but in the end, they are both trying to share that image on Instagram. The problem for many photographers is that they feel influencers are stepping on their toes, and encouraging many on Instagram to value a picture for who or what is in it, instead of the artistry behind the image itself.
What About the Relationship Between Photographers and Influencers?
One of the many reasons photographers feel as though influencers have stepped on their territory is because influencers have actually created a new market for “photographers.” Many lifestyle photographers today are using their skills and creativity to shoot beautiful, glistening images specifically for influencers.
Think lots of close ups of outfit changes, and carefully curated shots with product placement in the background. However, just because the influencer industry has created more jobs for photographers, it doesn’t mean there aren’t some new hurdles as well. Crediting practices and image rights can make the relationship between influencers and photographers.
Many photographers understandably feel as though influencers who will do anything to get more “likes” on their photos, are going too far and taking beautiful backdrops that photographers once used as the subject of their art and posing in front of them with a sponsored product just as a way to sell more sustainable water bottles. Others argue that while influencers and Instagram have definitely “ruined” an old school version of photography from decades ago, it is actually simply ushering in a new era of photography for the future.
Unfortunately, like it or not, influencers have made a huge impact on our world today, not only for social media users but for the many retail brands that rely on their endorsements to keep their business running. Influencers may not be going anywhere any time soon, but it doesn’t mean that their impact on photography needs to stay.
True, passionate photographers who understand the value and artistry of this form can continue to hold on to their unique art-form don’t have to worry about influencers getting in the way of their passion. If you just keep sticking to doing what you love and loving photography for what it is—no one can influence you otherwise.