On Instagram

instagram sunsettingThe whole deal with Instagram and their change of terms that would have allowed them to sell your pictures to whomever they wanted to, without having to get your permission to do so and without sharing any of the revenue that they made from selling the picture with you really, really bothered me.

It’s not so much that I think that my pictures on Instagram are so good that advertisers or whoever it is that Instagram was going to sell the pictures to was just going to fall all over themselves to grab my pics. That’s not really the point. The point, is that Instagram had the gall, of putting that sort of thing into their terms of use.

So the issue isn’t really “oh, I wanted to get paid for my pictures” which is indeed a part of it, it’s the gall, the sheer ballsiness of Instagram to say “we’re going to sell your pictures and were not going to tell you when we do so and we’re not going to give you any money for it either, f*ck you.” The ballsiness of doing something like that, is really the point.

So even if they retract their changes, which I heard they would, I am still leaning towards cancelling my Instagram account and set myself up somewhere else. I have not been able to bring myself to post anything new to Instagram since I heard this announcement.

I was already questioning the “why am I doing certain things” issue with regards to my photography business and my photography in general. I was already having a hard time seeing where Instagram fits in to my business plans.

Eventhough I’m starting to get more views and more comments on my Instagram pics, I get more and better responses from other locations. Surprisingly, 500px has been really good and Flickr of course has always been good.

Speaking of Flickr, they just launched a brand-new iPhone app which is absolutely fabulous. I must say I am very impressed with the quality of the application that they released. If you’re into this sort of thing, it’s got filters just like Instagram and it also lets you post directly into Flickr and other services as well. Just like Instagram does.

Of course, Flickr does have a deal with Getty Images, so if someone was interested in your photo for commercial purposes, they could license it and you get paid for the usage. Imagine that.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ll be sticking around Instagram for much longer.

Photosharing Sites I Like

I’ve been pondering the “which photosharing site is best?” question a lot recently. All of the ones that I’ve tried have their advantages and their drawbacks, and I’ve tried quite a few of them.

Rather than take you through the list of all of the sites that I’ve gone through, I figured I’d list the sites that I like the most and why I like them.


You could argue that flickr is the grand daddy of all photo sharing sites. The thing that I like about Flickr, is that it has SEO juice and that it lets you create sets of your photos. It has some neat social features, but the site navigation is a bit clunky, and I don’t think that Yahoo! has spent any time or money working on the UI of the site since they bought it way back when.

Pros: It’s probably the oldest and biggest photosharing site. It’s well integrated with other services like Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Tumblr, etc. You can get stats on your views and no ads when you surf the site if you go pro for $25 for the year.

Cons: Clunky UI, clunky navigation, no special effects added to the photos, ho hum site design.


Probably has the prettiest photoviewer you’ll come across. They have taken great pains and invested a lot of money into making the way that your  photos display on their site look the best they possibly can. The thing that I dislike the most about SmugMug, is that their site navigation is seriously clunky. It takes a lot of getting used to and you’ll spend a lot of time trying to remember how you got from one screen to another. My other favorite feature, is that SmugMug lets you sell your prints directly from your SmugMug site.

Pros: Great photo viewer, option to automatically watermark pictures as you upload them, lets you sell your prints directly through your SmugMug site and they handle the printing/shipping/billing for you for a nominal fee.

Cons: Clunky, clunky, clunky back end site navigation, expensive, not well integrated with other services.


Has some of the coolest effects aka filters, that you can add to your photos. Some people argue that the effects make the pictures ugly, but I think that’s just a matter of taste. Instagram allows you to follow other photographers, I should say iPhoneographers and is really well integrated with other sharing sites (like Flickr), but you can’t surf the Instagram site itself to find other photographers to follow. You can only find other people to follow on your iPhone. I should also mention, that their app only works on the iPhone, running iOS 3+. Instagram is currently free to use.

Pros: Free, great filters that you can apply to your photos, seemless integration with Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Drop Box etc. Saves a copy of the edited picture to your iPhone photo library.

Cons: Can’t navigate the instagram site itself to find people to follow, need to use third party services for printing, navigation, etc. Only works on the iPhone.


Picplz is no longer in business. (edited 12/20/2012)

Picplz, addresses most of the shortcomings of Instagram. You can navigate the picplz site from your computer which makes it really easy to find other photographers to follow. Picplz also has filters and other effects that you can apply to your photos, but they’re not as cool as the ones on Instagram. Like the other sites, picplz lets you share your photos with Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Drop Box and a few others.

Pros: Site is easy to navigate and well organized, has special filter effects that you can apply to your photos, well integrated with other sharing services. Big variety of artistic types and tastes. App works on iPhone, Android and even Blackberry phones. Currently free.

Cons: Effect filters aren’t as cool as the ones on Instagram. Because of the wide variety of photography styles, you may encounter some PG-13 and in some cases PG-17 photos on the site. Also, can’t print from the site nor embed your picplz page into another site.


Photo Sharing Sites
Photo Sharing Sites

There are many other photosharing sites out there, but these are the sites that I like and use the most.

Flickr is the only site that lets you post directly to your WordPress blog. None of the other sites offer that, although some provide an embed code that lets you embed your photostream into your website.

There are a few WordPress plugins that let you share your photos “auto-magically” from Instagram or Flickr to your blog, but not all plugins are created equal.

Each site has varying degrees of rights management for your photos. However, they all pretty much say something to the effect of you granting the site a perpetual, royalty free license and other scary words that you should talk to an attorney about if you have questions about what the language actually means.

The way that it was explained to me, I understand the language to mean that you give the site permission to display your photos to other users/visitors of the site regardless of what country the user/visitor lives in, regardless of the ISP that they (either the site or the visitor) uses and regardless of whatever other companies the site might contract with in the operation of their business.

Having said all of that, what photo sharing sites do you like?

How To Share Your Instagram Pictures Better

I’ve been on this iPhone photography kick the last few months. I’ve been photographing all sorts of things and sharing most of the my pictures through one of the many photo sharing sites out there. I have a few favorites and a few not so favorites.

One of my favorite apps, is instagram.

What I like about Instagram, is that it lets you apply filters to your photos before you share it. But, my absolute favorite thing about it, is that it saves the modified picture back to your phone’s photo library. The application also allows you to auto share your pictures on other networks (twitter, facebook, flickr, tumblr, etc.) so it’s a bit of a one stop shop.

One of the limitations that I’ve run into with Instagram, is that it’s really hard to share your entire feed with people that are not on Instagram. People have to follow you in order for them to see your entire feed. I’m not a fan of only being able to follow/look at other people’s pictures in the iPhone’s small screen. I also like to view my entire timeline at once, preferably on my 24 inch display.

That’s where a site called instagrid comes in. Instagrid, creates a website using your instagram photo stream, it also lets you view your photographs in a light box and creates an RSS feed for people to subscribe to as well.

My instagrid website
My instagrid website

Instagrid also lets you track or create a site that follows a certain hashtag. What that means, is that if you’re at an event like a conference or a wedding for instance, you can create a website to view all of the instagram pictures that have the event hashtag.

How cool is that?

Both instagram and instagrid are currently free apps, all you need is an iPhone 3 or better. My instagrid site is at: http://instagrid.me/rafaelmarquez/

The next step, is to turn your Instagram photos into physical reality, that’s where Printstagram comes in. The prices seem reasonable too. I’ll order something from them and then review it for you here at some point in the future.

Now, if I could only find a site that lets me auto publish my photos to a WordPress self hosted blog, I’d be set. Do you know of one?