July 20, 2012, 3:39 PM — Is your phone filled with a library of orange-hued photos? Do you see a potential vintage effect on everything around you? Do you catch yourself thinking things like "This bubble gum wrapper would look much more interesting with a Lo-Fi effect on it?"
Then repeat after me: "Hi, my name is [insert name here], and I am an over-Instagrammer."
Good job. We all know that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. And now, with the admission out of the way, we can start looking at ways to fix the problem.
Believe it or not, most photo editing requires nothing more complicated than the tools available in even the most basic image-editing programs. But learning which tools to use and when to use them requires a little trial and error.
Give it a shot--and before you know it, you could be pumping out your own, preset-filter-free photos without subjecting your friends to an endless deluge of tired Instagram-style effects.
Step two on the road to recovery: understanding the problem.
Instagramming: It's Not All Bad
The great wilderness photographer Ansel Adams once said "A good photograph is knowing where to stand."
It's good advice. Photography is, after all, just a frozen glimpse of what we see every day. And of course anyone who visits Yosemite National Park (one of Adams's favorite locales) can see Half Dome in all its glory from any number of photo-friendly standpoints.
But Adams is also known for saying "Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships." In addition to being a master of exposure and composition, Adams was one of the great darkroom magicians of the photo-film age.
Just as Adams used the technology available to him to make the most of his images, smart photographers today--both amateur and professional--know that what they do after releasing the shutter is integral to achieving the results they desire. And that's true whether that shutter is on a camera or on a smartphone.
What happens when image-editing technology becomes available to masses of untutored, would-be photographers? We're finding out the painful truth now. The prime offenders are photographers who overuse smartphone apps like Instagram, which applies preset effects to mobile photos.
Though these effects can work very effectively for a precious few images (an old rake standing against a garage might look fantastic with a vintage effect laid on it), an important step to recovering from an indiscriminate addiction to Instagram is to limit your use of these filters.