As I wrote in December, I am now on Instagram and, at the time of writing, I have posted 71 photos, gained numerous likes for my photos and won over 150 followers. For the serious photographer, it makes sense to be there because that’s where your potential customers are active. In many ways, it’s a great platform: fairly easy to learn; quick to load and addictive to use. Yet like any other app, it could be improved. Here are my suggestions.
1. Let us upload from the desktop! In 2016 failing to be device-agnostic is ridiculous. There are several sites out there that let you do so: one uses a bank of servers that run mobile phone emulators to fool instagram’s servers; another programme involves installing a mobile device emulator program on your computer. So why not just provide a page on Instagram.com where you can log in, drag’n’drop your image and move onto a page where you can describe your image before clicking Publish. It really wouldn’t be difficult!
2. Better still, expose your upload API to third-party developers. This would unlock the ability to upload from third-party sites – the likes of hootsuite and iconosquare come to mind – and software applications. As a Lightroom user, I’d love to be able to use an Instagram export plugin, just as I can do already for Flickr and Facebook. I want to be able to add keywords and a caption in Lightroom and have them included on export to Instagram, saving myself the trouble of doing it all again on my mobile, where typing is more difficult.
3. Separate hashtags from user descriptions using a separate input box. It might well already be too far down the line for this but keywords – which is what hashtags are – ought to be stored separately from the description of the image.
4. Introduce a Share function. I’d like to be able to share great photos from artists I admire with people who follow me. You can do this with third party apps like Repost but making this functionality native to the app would encourage many more people to use it.
5. Improve the geo-tagging functionality. Instagram reads GPS coordinates embedded in photos and suggests place names. In most cases, this works better than trying to drop a pin on a map – no easy task on a smartphone – but sometimes none of Instagram’s suggestions really fit and it doesn’t appear to let you type in your own location. This ought to change.
So do you use Instagram? Does it work for you as an image-sharing platform? Are there other ways you’d improve it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.