What is Instagram, anyway?
Instagr.am is a free iPhone application that lets you easily post and share photos with other people right from your phone. This simple-to-use app includes a variety of filters which can make your photos more expressive. Check out Using iPhone and Instagram to Create Unique Travel Photos to see how different filters look on the same snapshot.
Instagr.am (IG for short) also makes it easy to simultaneously share photos with friends on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.
My Journey from Instagr.am apathy to Instagr.am fanatic
Until recently, I turned up my nose at cell phone photography. Sure, I used my phone for things besides phone calls: GPS, weather, checking email, texting, etc. All that made sense, but taking pictures?
For one thing, as a travel writer, I want my photos to be good enough to include in my articles. Shooting pictures with a cell phone struck me as awkward, low quality, and a general waste of time.
Along came Instagr.am…
Fast forward to May, when my step-daughter showed me some beautiful photos she and her friends had shared with Instagr.am. Although I still didn’t see how Instagr.am could fit into my life, I signed up for it, anyway. I then sat on my account for nearly two months, doing absolutely nothing with it…
My how things have changed!
I now believe that travel and Instagr.am go hand-in-hand, and here’s why:
1. Positive Environment
It can be scary to share your photos with a bunch of strangers online. Maybe that’s why I waited so long to take the plunge. Now, some 200+ IG photos later, my experience is that Instagr.am is a delightfully snark-free zone, where shutterbugs come together to encourage each other’s creativity rather than belittle or criticize.
2. Instagram is Quick and Easy to Use
How quick and easy? The above shot was taken and uploaded while waiting to cross the street in the Sundance Square section of downtown Fort Worth, Texas.
3. Get Recommendations While Traveling
Not only is it encouraging to receive “likes” on your snapshots (often within seconds of posting them) but folks on Instagr.am can also make helpful recommendations for you to act on while you are out exploring.
This process can be helped along by using hashtags for the place you are visiting. Hashtags are simply key words with a number sign tacked at the beginning. To let people know you are in Fort Worth, Texas, simply label your photo: #fortworth #texas.
Then, when IG-ers notice you posting photos from a place such as the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, your photos may, for example, get a comment from an IG user, or a pal on Twitter or Facebook suggesting that you try lunch there. (I certainly recommend lunch at the Kimbell Art Museum; it’s both yummy and a good deal.)
4. Instagr.am Takes Readers with You
I posted several IG shots while on a road trip to Paris, Texas. Not only did I get suggestions for things to see and do there, but since the pictures also appeared on my Twitter and Facebook account, it helped generate advance interest in my article, Paris Texas – Come See the Other Eiffel Tower.
Conversely, when I’m stuck behind a desk, scrolling through Instagr.am lets me enjoy vicarious travel, and gives me ideas for places I would like to visit on my days off.
5. Visual Note-taking
Although I still carry a camera in my purse at all times, it’s so quick to snap a photo with the iPhone. I might very well have forgotten about the antler chandelier hanging in the Best Western Dinosaur Valley Inn & Suites in Glen Rose, Texas, if I hadn’t taken time to snap this quick photo before we checked out.
6. Instagr.am Offers Instant Creative Gratification
As a writer, I sometimes need a break from reading, writing and words, in general. Sharing photos on Instagr.am helps me shift gears and relax after a busy day, while giving me the thrill of a quick creative fix.
For instance, I could hardly wait to post this photo of the moon which I took at one of the Star Parties hosted at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.
Instagr.am also provides an outlet for photos that are too abstract and/or artsy to include in a travel article, but which I know will be appreciated by certain folks on IG.
7. Making Friends
For me, the biggest surprise with Instagr.am has been all the interesting people I find there! In fact, there are people on Instagr.am I would love to meet in person. I may just have to arrange some sort of north Texas Instagr.am-Arama where we can run around snapping photos en masse. I think that would be a lot of fun!
How to use Instagr.am for your Travel Photos
These days, I can’t imagine taking a trip without sharing photos along the way via Instagr.am. I absolutely love how simple and immediate it makes the whole process.
Have you tried Instagr.am yet?
Have you been bitten by the Instagr.am bug yet? Do you have any tips for using it? If so, please leave a comment below.