From the question of mobile photography’s validity to the troubling terms of service agreements, the popular photography-sharing app, Instagram continues to be at the forefront of discussion in the photojournalism community. One of the main issues is the ethics of using Instagram as an outlet for serious journalistic imagery. “Sincerity could be jeopardized when posting heavy issues amongst “photos of cocktails and kittens on an Instagram feed.” –Meryl Alpher
As “Instagram is gaining a more prominent role in reporting what’s going on around the world, including remote areas and conflict zones,” photojournalists are adapting to this and sharing their captures with the world. Despite the potential drawbacks, Instagram and other social media outlets undoubtedly provide an unmatched platform for spreading ideas and knowledge to an expansive audience. This proves invaluable for promoting awareness about certain issues or events. Recently, Kate Knibbs wrote about 7 photojournalists creating interesting work on Instagram on the Digital Trends blog. Included in this post are journalists, Marcus Bleasdale, Ben Lowy, and Ed Kashi (VII), among others.
Not only individual journalists, but also the feeds of larger news outlets like The New Yorker and TIME provide the world with meaningful mobile documentary photography. Special stories, traveling journalism, and breaking news editions make their way into our Instagram feeds by way of these and other popular news outlets. As the October 2012 Hurricane Sandy closed in on the East coast, TIME asked five photographers to document the impending storm and the aftermath via Instagram. The importance of Instagram’s documentary abilities is evident from this work. This unprecedented method of documentary reportage opened our eyes for other potential avenues to use the power of this social media platform. Keeping the world up to the minute with real-time photos fills the urgent demand of our media-hungry world. Along with images from other photographers who also documented the storm, this important work was culminated in the recent book project #SANDY. A fully funded IndieGogo project, #SANDY is a compilation of the work of about 20 photographers who shared their experiences during Hurricane Sandy with the Instagram community.
As Instagram and our mobile world continue to evolve, this seems to only be the beginning of social media journalism. As we become more and more digitally oriented, this method of sharing our lives and now the news will only become more relevant.