Why Instagram Images Will Take on a Sense of Permanence

Flickr is a photographic world all its own, so one would think that the photos posted there would be unique to the site itself. But one glance at the “all time most popular tags” page shows otherwise. Among the more obviously popular photographic tags, such as canon and nikon and the always visible wedding tag, one’s eye moves to the tags instagramapp and iphoneography. No site on the Internet can avoid filter-enhanced Instagram images – not even Flickr. 

With Facebook’s recent acquisition of Instagram, however, those once fleeting, filtered images will soon have a new repository: Facebook. Why would a photographer who is using Instagram in the post-acquisition era drag and drop that same image into Flickr? This will be one of Flickr’s main pain points – not to mention the impossibly slow upload speed of its mobile app. But if users care about preserving their images, Flickr might stand a chance.

Instead of lashing out or trying to fight back against the ever-expanding world of mobile photo-sharing apps, Flickr has decided to jump on board. It has happily donned Instagram’s rose-colored glasses or, rather, filters.

“The announcement that Facebook has acquired Instagram underscores the incredible growth and influence of the mobile photo-sharing ecosystem,” says Flickr’s Kay Kremerskothen. “This growth is highly beneficial to Flickr, with mobile apps such as Instagram, Hipstamatic and more making up a large percentage of the images uploaded to Flickr every day.”

Sharing an Instagram image to Flickr changes it from a spur-of-the-moment snapshot into something that feels more formal and permanent. On Instagram, an image is a one-size-fits-all look at users’ fleeting moments. On Flickr, though, it is now living in a space that’s particular to documentation, clearer copyrights (everything on Instagram is public) and the possibility for multiple sizes. Flickr acts more as a repository for a wider range of images. 

Will Instagrams Move from Facebook to Flickr?

If for some reason Instagrammers want a more permanent, searchable home for their images after Facebook’s acquisition, they will take the time to download those images from Facebook and up onto Flickr. This is because right now on Facebook, it’s difficult and clunky to locate past images.

Facebook organizes photos by album – to find a photo, one must click through the albums or scroll through the entire “photos and videos of you” section, which is organized by year. It’s nifty if you’re thinking about time chronologically – but how many users are? While the photo section gives you a nice overview of your “Facebook life,” it’s not exactly an easily searchable, metadata-rich space. This is where Flickr, especially the new HTML5 photo uploader, could come in handy.

Yet do Instagram users really want to create a searchable database of their images? If they do, and they are willing to use Flickr for these purposes, Flickr could become a repository for images that Instagram and iPhoneography users want to make more permanent and searchable. That is, if they actually care to document their memories.

If these users prefer to live in the moment, well, let the ultrasounds and kid photos on Facebook keep coming.

Soon they will be cloaked in Earlybird, Sierra, Lo-fi and 1977 Instagram filters

Images viaFlickr.

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