The Pressures of Instagram & Filters

The Pressures of Instagram & Filters

Jaclyn Krizanic

April 20, 2020

Wake up. Drink coffee. Check notifications. Scroll through Instagram. This is a cycle that has become installed in many of our brains as a daily morning routine. There is no denying Instagram has changed over the years from its first appearance on the app store. People are able to make a living from their phones through avenues such as modeling. Photographers are able to showcase their talents. Yet nowadays, it seems like everyone on Instagram is a photographer. How could they not be? With a high-quality camera in nearly everyone’s hands, the possibilities of going viral or becoming an influencer are unlimited. 

Instagram was released in 2006 and the first photo ever posted was by Mike Krieger. The tilted photo shows the view outside a window, overlooking a marina across from the photographer’s home. The photo has heavy filtering and used the Instagram filter generated on the app X-pro II. The first accounts that came across these photos continued to post similar content. Effortless pictures of them eating spaghetti at a restaurant or out on a walk with their dog became the kind of posts Instagram displayed on our feeds.

From 2006 to 2020, there are undeniable changes in the way people interact with this social media platform. There are unspoken rules now. People can’t post more than once a day and those that use the app’s default filters could possibly face judgement from other users. Followers tend to grow on profiles when their own profile’s feed has a particular aesthetic. This requires the influencer-targeted app Lightroom. Lightroom is a subscription-based app that requires payment to use. Influencers not only use Lightroom but other apps such as UNUM to plan out their future posts to ensure their aesthetic is on-trend. 

Now that these influencers have access to eye-pleasing editing programs, this concept has guided the evolution of how we post on Instagram. Graphic designers are profiting from these new techniques to create feeds. People have made presets that can be downloaded for Lightroom in order to mimic the filters used by famous influencers. Some presets are free whereas others have a cost to download. These can be purchased on sites such as Etsy and Pinterest. Professional photographers can also purchase filters on Lightroom. These prices can range from $29 to over $300. These are prices that people are willing to pay just for posts and an aesthetic that grows a population of possible new followers. 

There seems to be underlying opinions and judgments being made by followers if you don’t have a pleasing feed to look at. Oftentimes people will go and stalk through accounts to see what kind of vibe they want their Instagram to look like. The Instagram that was created ten years ago has evolved into a platform that highlights these accounts and leaves others in the shadows. It makes originality hard to find, let alone keep, within a feed due to the pressures these filters are putting on the users. 

Even though people can buy filters and shape their new feed, this does not necessarily mean that they will become an instant celebrity or go viral overnight. Most people seem to be missing the intent of what this app was originally designed to be: to capture moments and share times effortlessly at the convenience of our fingertips. Moments are now seen as opportunities to take pictures to add to their feed. A clever caption is just the next layer that comes in when dissecting the new ways of how this app has evolved. When we peel back and look through the past everything is simple, in the moment and not pre-contemplated. This isn’t necessarily bad, just a change to the ways users interact within and each other on this platform. 

Jaclyn Krizanic is a junior studying Professional Writing and minoring in Graphic Design. Jaclyn plans to apply her knowledge and skill sets she has gained from her major into her current, future and professional work. Jaclyn loves to write poetry and inspires to publish a book of poems and short stories upon her graduation.