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How Has Instagram Impacted Photography? And Other Photography Questions Answered

Karl Grupe shares his thoughts on the relationship between Instagram as a social medium and photography. Plus, he shares a few other useful tips photographers will find useful.

| Professional Interviewed

How Has Instagram Impacted Photography? And Other Photography Questions Answered: Instagram

Karl Grupe is an Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design who has some interesting thoughts on social media, Instagram particularly, and how it's shaping / changing the photography world. In the Q&A below, Karl talks about Instagram's impact on the popularity of photography and how the medium works with traditional art platforms. Plus, he offers some insightful tips on how to start your own photography collection and shares some advice on what he believes are emerging trends in the photography world we should be paying attention to. 


Has Instagram impacted the popularity of photography?

"Certainly, photography is now more popular than ever. Instagram has over 700 million monthly active users posting 52 million images per day. No other photo social media app touches it. But does this mean photography in its classic form is more popular? I think it’s important to separate out photography as an art form from what has become a medium used to increase one’s social currency. Sure it has made photography more accessible, as you are always carrying a camera in your pocket, but Kodak did that too. Image making has become a way of communicating and so we are storytelling through capturing an image. It has made communicating with pictures certainly popular, but the craft of photography - for me the jury is still out."


How do you see Instagram working with traditional art platforms, e.g. galleries?

"Instagram is like a friend who invites you to a party and then takes the time to introduce you to all the people she knows. Traditional galleries can have an air of exclusivity about them, and while websites and blogs can also exude that through the literature on their posts, it would be far too serious to carry on in that manner on Instagram. The nature of Instagram is to like, share and follow. A large portion of the adult demographic is young - 29% being 18 - 29 years of age. So any agency wanting to use this platform needs to invest in how to use it in a way that this group prefers to be communicated with. Beetles + Huxley use IG really well. Although they exhibit and sell some iconic and seminal works, dotted along their Instagram timeline besides their exhibitions are experiences, education, thank you’s, appreciations and even a bit of youthful wonder. They really personalise the gallery experience. They appear easy to approach." 


Are there any interesting trends in the photography world that people should be aware of?

"Technology is exploding with 4K drone / immersive photography and better smartphones. So how creatives choose to exploit the technology and return with their results will be interesting.  As Generation X gets older they are going to have much more say on market trends as they will be holding more disposable cash. Personally, I’m interested in the Generation Z bunch and how they are going to use photography. They are the first generation of pure digital natives and how they will push the medium and what they want from it will be interesting to observe. Will analogue see a major renaissance within this group? How are geo / political / cultural issues shaping what will be before their lens? How will they evaluate the worth of photography? Starting a photography collection has never been more accessible and exciting."


Prints on a wall


What are your top tips for starting a photography collection?

Attending fairs and photo festivals is a terrific way to start collecting. With a variety of work under one roof, one gets a sense of what photographs price out at, see the actual size of the piece, network with artists, gallery owners, collectors and build your own network around tastes, needs and interests. I think it’s important to see the piece in person unless you are into a name and the investment opportunities behind a name. Then it may not matter as much. 

Read up on a work or the photographer creating the work and see what their signature pieces or series are. Photographers more established or well collected can seem unreachable at first but their lesser known work may be surprisingly affordable. Starting out I’d say buy what you really like as opposed to an investment piece only. There will be critics of this advice but for me passing by in your home an original piece of a work and a photographer you love and own can only inspire you to keep looking for the next piece. You get a feel for how it hangs in your space, it begins a journey with you and serves you.  


Where are the best places to look, are there any photography hot spots in the UK?

Following an artist or a photographer / gallery you like on Instagram is a way of connecting to a series of networks which can develop organically. 

In terms of shows and festivals, grad shows are a really good place to look at fresh and contemporary work. Free Range is an excellent example. You get a collection of university and colleges grad work under one roof at the Old Truman Brewery. Central Saint Martins also has both an excellent venue and super grad show at King’s Cross.  

Karl Grupe will be talking in more detail about the above topics at the Affordable Art Fair Battersea, taking place from 19-22 October 2017. 

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