Exposure: Instagram photography

More than likely you use Instagram or at least have heard of it.

It emerged in 2010 and has since grown rapidly, especially after being acquired by Facebook. It is used by more than 100 million people all over the globe.

The photo-sharing application enables people to take photos on the go and share with their followers, with the ability to add a quirky filter to make it look artsy.

Instagram for the most part has been widely accepted by professional artists and photographers. Even some major news outlets, including the New York Times, have published Instagram photos both online and even in print.

One can find just about anyone on Instagram – celebrities, journalists, athletes and even cats – and have the ability to get a peek into their life.

It also has enabled people who may not have had a knack for photography before, to explore and realize that they do have a talent for it, even if they don’t have a big, fancy camera.

Many cite convenience as a major benefit of cellphone photography. Its ability to capture unanticipated moments is something that can be difficult when hauling around a large camera and equipment. Not to mention it’s much easier to be inconspicuous, allowing for more interesting photo opportunities.

Isaiah Britton, 28 and one of the Sun-Gazette’s newest correspondents, is a city resident and a jack of all trades, so to speak. He is the assistant wrestling coach at Lycoming College – and he takes some pretty impressive Instagram photos with his iPhone 4.

LYNDSEY HEWITT: When did you start using Instagram and why?

ISAIAH BRITTON: I joined IG in ’12 because all of the cool kids were doing it – which is to say, friends and associates whose creative abilities and tastes I hold in high regard.

LH: I chose you to feature because your pictures on Instagram are really well composed. Have you studied photography formally?

IB: I took a digital photography class in high school, which covered some basics of composition. Mostly, though, I owe my eye for composition to my mother, who studied formally at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. She continues to mentor and inspire me in all my creative endeavors.

LH: What are your thoughts about Instagram and its impact on photography? Some “serious” photographers sort of detest it, but many have embraced it.

IB: As a social network, IG is an inefficient tool for judging the quality of a photo. A given photo’s impact can be quantified in the form of “likes,” but a summary glance at IG’s most popular daily photos suggests that quantity does not always equal quality. As for complaints that serious photographers have with IG – I have heard IG’s ease of use criticized as precipitating the downfall of “real photography.” My view is that it is not as much about what you have, but about how you use it; that input does not necessarily equal output; that the easier it is for laypeople to create appealing photos, the greater the competition in the creative markets; that greater competition will lead to higher quality photos on the whole. In other words, more people taking appealing photos forces serious photographers to get more serious, to the benefit of all who enjoy photography.

LH: How would you describe your style on Instagram, if you have one?

IB: I am a big fan of landscapes, and find vistas particularly appealing. My account is a hodgepodge of people and places, and all things dear to me.

LH: What is it you generally look for when you take a photo? (color, patterns, shapes, shadows, etc.)

IB: I look inward as much as I look outward. My process is mostly intuitive. I do find that I am drawn to symmetry, which lends itself to capturing works of human engineering. Though if something speaks to me, regardless of subject, I capture it. That others enjoy what I enjoy capturing is immensely rewarding.

LH: Do you think there are positives to cellphone photography vs. using a larger camera?

IB: Often there’s a trade-off between efficiency/convenience and photo quality. For most of my pieces, efficiency/convenience wins. That said, assuming I’d have adequate time to prep for a shot, I’d always choose to use a larger camera. As it happens, however, some of my most memorable shots have been taken at times that could not have been anticipated.

LH: What type of phone do you use?

IB: iPhone 4.

LH: What is your favorite filter, or filters? How do you decide? Which do you use the most and least?

IB: Wherever possible, I don’t use a filter. When moved to use a filter, I would say my go-to is Valencia, because it most closely approximates no filter.

LH: What are your stats, if you don’t mind sharing … number of followers, number of photos posted, number of Instagram accounts you’re following?

IB: 78 posts, 316 followers, 216 following.

LH: What is the most interesting Instagram account that you follow?

IB: JustinTylerNorton Photographer of mostly human subjects based out of Portland, Ore.

LH: If you had to choose one location in the world to Instagram, where would it be?

IB: I love the size and color of the Pacific Northwest. The tree lines are sharp and dark green. Summer breeze along the Pacific is particularly clean and crisp. The Cascade and Olympic Mountains are vast and inspiring. The region’s people are one-of-a-kind, too.

If you have Instagram (available on both Android and Apple operating systems), you can follow Isaiah at isaiah_britton. If you don’t have an account, view it online at

Hewitt is the assistant lifestyle editor and also a reporter at the Sun-Gazette. “Exposure” will be printed on the last Thursday of each month. Follow @ExposureSG on Twitter to keep up with updates between columns.