After a lot of consideration, I joined Instagram in January. I wasn't sure what to expect; I'm sort of apprehensive about most social media, having waved the white flag at Facebook almost two years ago. Frankly, it made me feel unhappy. I began to dread logging in, so one day I just stopped. Maybe a draconian approach, but I felt better immediately and I haven't looked back. In recent months, I'd entertained the idea of tiptoeing back into the social-media pool; Instagram seemed like fun, from what I could see on some of the blogs I read. Bloggers were connecting with each other and sharing things in a slightly different way. I know there is a lot of talk about bloggers migrating lately. I know, I know. It's a problem. But I'll get back to that in a minute.
Let me say this first: I'm happy to report that I like it there. For one thing, I'm enjoying using my phone's camera more often, which is something I'd wanted to do for a while (I dabbled in it last fall, publishing a post with only camera photos, which was a real change of pace for me). I'm not great with my phone's camera, but the filters and editing tools on Instagram are useful. I like being able to upload a photo, finagle it a little, add a caption if I want, and shoot it out there for the world to see. I like that. It's quick and easy.
I've always been big into photographing the minutiae of my day, and of the world around me. I keep my Nikon in the kitchen so I can grab it any time, taking a photo of my cooking, the food on my plate at the table, the small Bears' work at the kitchen counter. Sometimes I stroll around the yard, snap-snap-snapping away until I realize I've taken 47 photos of the same unfurling bud. Or I get into my mountain-snapping pose on the brick steps outside our bedroom, leaning back into the rickety screen door as old as me, cobwebs in my hair and apple-tree twigs poking my neck to capture that Sandia sunset I'm always on about. I've been a shutterbug since I was a teenager; I bought my first camera, a Kodak Ektralite 110, when I was fourteen. Me and my cameras, we're thick as thieves. I don't pretend to be an awesome photographer; I'm just having fun. I practice and I think I get some good shots now and then. It's a part of my life I really love.
Blogging has given me a place to share my photos, which are plentiful. When my children were younger, I made photo diaries: I would take a picture every few minutes throughout our day. I liked doing this because it was a record of daily life at that moment in time. My life was pleasant enough, and I knew this, but it seemed very, very hard sometimes, between diapers and feedings and colic and reflux and naptimes and the general feeling of being "stranded" at home with really little ones. I think my photo diaries were partly a response to this sense of being ground down by motherhood: if I could add something thoughtful - artistic, even - to my day, I felt a little more connected to the world outside, to people who combed their hair and ate sitting down. I used to be one of them. I could remember it! My photo diaries did help me. I still look at them sometimes. I feel reassured that I wasn't as big a mess as I thought I was; everyone was clean, fed, dressed and usually pretty happy, contrary to some of my memories. Life was hard but good.
I'm very glad to have started a blog because I love to write. I love it even more than I love taking photos. I'm glad that blogging allows me to do both. I feel like I've found a good little niche for myself as a blogger; I can't believe how enjoyable this has been! I've made wonderful connections with other bloggers and I get to have my own little space to share whatever I like, the things that make me happy and excited and inspired.
I do think that Instagram would have worked well for me during those spit-up years, though. I would have used it a lot. I used Facebook the way I'm currently using Instagram: quick snapshots of the daily routine. But on Facebook, I was clever; I wrote sarcastic, pithy commentaries about dirty diapers, leaking breasts, toddler tantrums, sibling squabbles and a very stupid dog (when I had one). I was a little caustic, actually. On Instagram, I'm nice. I share pretty things. But I assure you, all is not pretty in my world. I'm just like you, I promise. If I have a complaint about Instagram, it's this: I'm less than three months into my membership and I'm already sick to death of perfectly-staged photos of food, craft supplies, furniture, shoes. You name it, and it can be arranged gorgeously.
The best Instagram post I've seen yet was from my friend Leanne. She shared a photo of a mess her son made on the carpet. I think there were lentils and dry penne pasta involved. It was real life and I liked it. I haven't shared anything like that yet but I will. I almost shared our new toilet seat this weekend. Pure joy in my heart, I tell you.
But so far, I've stuck to prettier images. I'm still learning the ropes and gaining followers and I think I'll hold off on toilet-related posts for now. I like to take photos of things as I see them, just whatever is around me. Color is key; I really like to photograph ordinary things which happen to be colorful. I like to capture some of the foods we eat, like a delicious pepperoni pizza made by the Bear. I like to play around with yarns and embroidery floss. I've noticed the beautiful colors of the equestrian roping supplies at the feed store. The sunsets and blossoming trees and, a few weeks back, snow-covered berries are all catching my eye. It's the same stuff I photograph with my big camera, for the most part. The everyday things that make up my world and bring me joy and wonder. Sometimes I use both, the DSLR and the smartphone: I have both in my bag and I take a photo of everything twice. I look like a tourist in my own city but I don't care: I have a record and that's what I came for.
|I'm no good at selfies, no good AT ALL.|
Now, about those bloggers who prefer Instagram...I do have an opinion on that. First, let me say that I get it. I understand that blogging is maybe not the coolest game in town anymore and people are looking for the next big thing. There have been people "discovered" via Instagram, and they're making money now and attracting adulation. I have no problem with people making money with their online pursuits; heck, if someone offered me a good opportunity, I might take it. But I'm not really in it for that. I love blogging and I find much fulfillment in it. I also realize that Instagram is quicker; blogging requires a little more planning, maybe. That said, I don't see how Instagram could fully replace blogging. I can't speak for anyone else, but blogging, for me, is a passion, whereas Instagram is a pastime. Do you see the difference? It doesn't fill my cup the way blogging does. My friend Gillian once explained to me this way, when I was dithering about joining Instagram (and I'm paraphrasing; she's brilliant and she probably said it better): "Instagram is like saying hi as you pass a friend on the street, blogging is like chatting with them over a cup of tea." She speaks the truth, people. Listen to her.
If you're so inclined to find me, I'm thistlebear on Instagram. I'd love to connect with you over there and I hope you'll still check in here too. I'm not going anywhere.
All photos in this post were taken with my Moto X smartphone via Instagram.