Streams of Consciousness

This image was found, unattributed, on an Instagram feed. The original photographer is  Magdalena Wasiczek. http://www.popphoto.com/photos/2013/09/behind-photos-magda-wasiczeks-surreal-floralscapes

This image was found, unattributed, on an Instagram feed. It had 223 likes at the moment I took this screen shot. The original photographer is Magdalena Wasiczek. http://www.popphoto.com/photos/2013/09/behind-photos-magda-wasiczeks-surreal-floralscapes

Or, How Instagram morphed into a Tumblr blog

When I first started using Instagram four years ago, it was a cool photo-sharing site where anyone with an iPhone could apply filters to make an average photo look awesome.

As with most social media channels and applications, people discover inventive uses and loopholes to exploit sites and apps in ways that might not have been originally anticipated.

Such is the case on Instagram.

Instead of viewing original photography, I’m seeing a large volume of plagiarized photos or reposted images designed to increase the popularity (likes) of a given user’s stream. Inspirational quotes, as well as cartoons and memes also take up a lot of space. In my view, non-original photographic content has proliferated like milfoil, much like random sharing on Tumblr.

I wondered if my observations were unique, so as a reality check, I asked several of my favorite friends on Instagram what they thought.

The vast majority of those I asked felt it was wrong to share photos without at least acknowledging the original photographer. People with streams full of this type of content are open plagiarists, and continue the practice because Instagram doesn’t care.

An exception would be feeds that are dedicated to “featuring” a photograph and attributing the user who created that content.  Some of these feeds are well moderated and only share and attribute original content from users who tag their work with the feed’s dedicated tag (granting permission to repost the work).

On the other hand, is there any point in being overly concerned by the sharing of non-image or appropriated content? After all, Instagram as a place for people to share things they feel will be of interest to others, and as long as the content is allowed by Instagram, is it really a problem?

It’s a problem when you have a friend on Twitter and follow their IG feed, only to find things you don’t want to see. As far as I know, there is not a lot of choice except to unfollow.

Currently, there is no way to “mute” users or content you don’t wish to view. So the only thing one can do is to unfollow accounts where the content doesn’t interest you. It can be awkward because some people become upset when they are unfollowed. Some even feel they must unfollow you as “payback.”

To that I say, “Oh, well!”

To my knowledge, searching via hashtag is one way to see a topic, but there isn’t a way to list people whose images you really want to see. If there is an app out there to do that, please tell me!

How do you use Instagram?

Would you like to see a a list feature to help filter what you see?

I’d love to to have you share your thoughts.


The friends who provided information to help me write this post include: Jack Higgins (JackandPele), Reg Saddler (zaibatsu), Cheryl Senter (CherylSenter) and Darren Sproat (DarrenGSproat). My thanks to them for their friendship and support.

Jack Higgins marches to the beat of a different drummer. Former advertising creative director and writer, Jack has found a new way to use Instagram. For a while, I didn’t understand his cryptic images, until I looked at his page and saw the puzzles, solved. They form mosaics! I should note, everything Jack does is thru the thought control of an evil dog named @tipytomita!

Jack Higgins composite

Reg Saddler is an amateur photographer and social media guru, listed on the Forbes list of top people on social media and too many other lists to name. He understands the hows and whys.

Reg Saddler composite

Cheryl Senter is a professional photographer working in New England. I had the pleasure of meeting her here when she visited Seattle two years ago. Her Instagram feed focuses on her amazing dog.

Cheryl Senter composite

Darren Sproat is a Canadian photographer known for his landscapes. He has been featured on the Nokia blog and cultivated a fan base (including me!)—all in awe of his images.

Darren Sproat composite

Thanks to Verizon for the Galaxy Note 4 used for many of the images posted on my own instagram feed: https://instagram.com/terrinakamura/

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21 thoughts on “Streams of Consciousness

    • Tim, First of all, thank you for reading and commenting.

      I think I know what you mean—there are SO MANY hashtags. I love #BMW2002 cars, so they are pretty easy to find, but other things are like going on an archeological dig!

      On Facebook, you can unsubscribe from streams that are not of interest, or on Tweetdeck, you can mute users you don’t want to unfollow, but also don’t wish to see. It would be nice to have a similar option on Instagram!

      Happy Easter Sunday! Terri

    • Gerrit, thanks for the heads up. I’m glad you’ll be addressing it on your blog. I’d seriously rather see photos shot by someone who isn’t a good photographer than all the other stuff taking up so much space.

      When you write your post, will you ping me on Twitter or EA? I would like to read it!

      Happy Easter, Terri

    • Yannis, thanks for reading and commenting, and thank you for sharing on Twitter.

      It would be great to get back to photos on Instagram, but once the genie came out of the bottle, there’s no getting it back in!

      It’s nice to have shared a friendship for so long. It means a lot.

      Warm ((HUGS)) Terri

  1. Truthfully stealing photos happens everywhere all the time. My son, a terrific amateur photographer, just had one of his most awesome pics taken and used by the USA Federal gov without attribution. He’s found the upside is he can brag about how much someone there liked it to do that! I like IG most for finding quotes, picture quotes.

    • Hi, Pat, and thanks for the comment here!

      It’s fortunate your son is a generous guy. I’ve seen photographers on GooglePlus attack people who share their images because they didn’t first obtain permission. The weird thing about that is, the images were attributed, so they were receiving exposure and were identified as the creators. But it wasn’t enough. Copyrights prevail!

      So you like the quotes on IG! I’ve also seen oodles of quotes on Pinterest boards, where they are categorized by theme/topic.

      Again, thanks and wishing you a great weekend! Terri

  2. I tend to agree, there are many “stolen” photos making the rounds, often posted by many different people. I’ve even seen my own photos posted by others without credit. I pride myself in only posting photos that I take myself (with the occasional photo, in which I appear, taken by someone else).

    • Geweir, thanks for your comment here. And I’m very sorry you have had your images “stolen” by others. If you do a Google image search, you might be able to piece together how it happened.

      Like you, I also take my own photos. Some are pretty good and others not so great, but they’re mine. When you view a stream of photos taken by a particular person, you start to see the world through their point of view. That’s one of the things I used to love about Instagram.

      Wishing you a fabulous weekend, and my thanks again for your response.

      Cheers/Terri

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