The Instagram Effect & Faux-tography

In the day and age of selfie sticks and endless photo editing apps, it seems like my social media channels just keep getting prettier and prettier. I can't remember the last time I logged onto Instagram and saw something visually unappealing.

A slight crop here, sharpening there, and an overall Sepia tint = visual happiness

What I'm getting at is--technology is making it easier and easier for novices wielding cell phone cameras to take a photo and become a photographic Internet sensation, a title once given only to professionals.

This got me to thinking: How do professional photographers feel about this? Do social channels cheapen their craft?

Thankfully, Hawaii has no shortage of photography professionals to talk shop. Can you blame them when you're surrounded by this?

(photo credit: Amber Schoniwitz)

Amber Schoniwitz, an Oahu-based photographer who specializes in wedding and food photography, understands and appreciates the impact of social media on her career.

"I honestly believe Instagram has had one of the most positive effects on my career as a photographer," said Schoniwitz. "When I joined Instagram four years ago, I had no idea posting a photo every day would help lead to my dream job."

Since, Schoniwitz credits social media, particularly Instagram, with helping her build relationships with people, including photographers from around the world, as well as maintain relationships with clients by keeping in touch.

"Almost all professional photographers I know are crazy about their feed, I know I am," said Schoniwitz. "Because we work so hard for it to be a clear representation of our style, it is a mobile portfolio for the world to see. It challenges us to shoot better, more beautiful photos than we have ever shot before. While everyday may seem like a failure in this challenge, when I look back at my feed I love seeing how far I've come and the collection of memories it holds."

(photo credit: Caitlin Schlabach)

Caitlin Schlabach, a Kailua-based digital and film photographer, echoes Schoniwitz's sentiments, but agrees there is a darker side to social media sites.

"If there were any negative aspects about Instagram, I would say it would be the effect of Instagram filters and unaccredited work," said Schlabach. "In my personal opinion, I truly don't like the look of Instagram's filters; however, sometimes clients do and when they receive their photographs from a session they, naturally, post them on social media, adding a filter in the process. This effectively changes that work, style, and coloring that the photographer put so much time and effort into."

Because Schlabach understands the power of social media as a marketing tool for professionals, it's frustrating to see the ease in which copyrights are violated.

"People often re-post photos without giving proper credit," said Schlabach. "While social media might not seem serious to many people, when your business is actively dependent on it as a platform for advertising, it matters when your work is copyrighted. With dozens of apps available for the sole purpose of re-posting photos on Instagram, it's incredibly common for people to re-post a photographer's art without any credit, essentially claiming it as their own."

Both Schoniwitz and Schlabach agree that social media has revolutionized the way photographers reach their prospective clients as well as how they create a brand.

"Recognizing the merge of personal lifestyle and business is a powerful emotional marketing tool," said Schlabach.

After talking with these photographers, I'm more intrigued than ever to see how social media evolves. What began as a personal platform for sharing photos has turned into a lucrative advertising and marketing module for business owners, entrepreneurs and beyond.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, so join the conversation below or with me on Twitter @ByKaitHanson.

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