Trends in Technology: Instagram and Photo Sharing Apps

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 20:17
Posted by Claire Menegus in category Business of Craft

A handwritten promo captured on Instagram by user Danielle Designs

What’s that fifth limb you’ve been sprouting for the past year or three? Oh, that’s just your Smartphone, a small communication device with an importance so all-encompassing it might as well double as a heart monitor. Recently, the  boom in photo sharing apps provides another reason to be obsessed, both for their ability to turn anyone into Irving Penn and their business bolstering implications. The most discussed photo-centric software of the moment is arguably Instagram — an app that melds social media with photography and Photoshop. It’s addictive, easy to use, and changing the way people connect, share creative content, and market in both the large and small business industries.

An example of an Instagram promo by jewelry maker I Live to Create

Chances are you’ve long been familiar with Instagram. The free application is so popular that it reached 1 million users only two and a half months after it’s launch. According to TechCrunch, it’s now adding 130,000 new registered users per week for a current total of over 2.2 million. At first only for iPhones, an Instagram API was recently developed to enable compatibility with multiple platforms and other apps. “…the Instagram community is building a rich visual history of the world. It’s only natural to find ways of encouraging talented developers to build interesting ways to explore the data,” says a release on Instagram.com

Needless to say, it’s ability to capture images that can then be altered by applying toned “filters” is an incredibly fun way to document life and instantly share photography online. Users can follow each other’s Instagram photo stream the same way that people “follow” one another on Twitter. Images can also be marked with #hashtags so like-minded Instagramers can find and track shots of interest. Blog platforms have developed plug-ins that allow instant streaming and uploading from the Instagram app to websites. In light of these features and the high quality of Instagram photos, bloggers and independent business owners are opting to leave their heavy and complicated DSLRs at home.

Instagram product photos by Etsy user I Live to Design

When it comes to creating graphics for promos, snapping images for their blogs, or even capturing product shots for their online stores, Instagram can provide everything an independent business owner needs to get ‘er done. For example, jeweler I Live to Create is an Instagram user and independent designer who creates promos for her Facebook page using Instagram images of her wares. She also uses the app to take funky product shots for her Etsy store.

Another innovative development on the Instagram forefront is Postagram, a new capability that enables users to print their Instagram images as postcards for $1. A write up over on Wired.com explains, “Postagram takes your Instagram photos, lets you add a message (up to 140 characters) and then mails a printed copy to anyone, anywhere in the world. The picture is printed at 300 dpi on heavy photo paper and comes surrounded by a postcard, from which the print can be popped out. Each picture costs $1 to print and send, and you have to do nothing but choose the picture and pay.”

Image of paper cubes using Instagram images by Printsgram. Found on Printsgram.com

Printsgram is a similarly exciting printing program that sends a user PDF files of their Instagram images for printing. A user can select different poster sizes, foldable paper cubes and even stickers for free.

Looking to maximize your Instagram use? In addition to the software innovations existing inside the plastic shell of your phone, gadgets and accessories are aiding the Smartphone’s metamorphosis into full-fledged professional camera.

The Glif is a tripod and kickstand in one that props and stabilizes an iPhone 4 so it’s camera ready.

-This tutorial from Instructables teaches you how to deconstruct a disposable camera lens to create a clip-on macro lens (a lens that allows very close range shots of a subject).

- And to round everything out, this article from PC World offers general tips on How to Improve Shooting with a Camera Phone.

While nothing may come close to the crisp quality and tonal range of a $1,500 + DSLR,  innovations in media and technology, such as the Instagram app, usually mean that concurrent evolutions in marketing and business are not far behind. Could this impact the way we create business cards or memorabilia for craft shows? Have any advice or insight on camera phone apps or other related developments? Please keep us all in the know by commenting below!


Photo: Claire Menegus

About Claire Menegus

Claire Menegus is an aspiring writer who’s interests intersect at business, design, cheesecake baking and her self-proclaimed nerdy fascination with the internet and new media. Her creative impulses change almost daily — from making home made liqueurs to sewing to book binding, though her life-long obsessions have been cooking and baking. Growing up in a household of artists, she feels passionate about supporting independent creators, and speculates that handmade goods and small business could be the new and improved economy of the future. Claire loves to talk! Contact her at claire[at]hellocraft[dot]com.

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  • CrystalJewelrybyGina

    You are an awesome individual and my soul twin!  I’m the same way.  I’m interested in ALL of it – multimedia, wire-wrapping, skin care (other passion), cold connections – all jewelry.  I like to bake but I grew up with my grandmother who created her own handmade flowers and she did the bouquets and pins for quincineras and weddings alike.  I used to make pinatas, etc. 

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Chrisciolli

    Thanks for the great info!

  • Regina

    Hi again, I hope I understood your column correctly.  You said that instagram is available for all phones?  I can’t find instagram as an app on my android.  Can you please send me a link to this app for my android?  loanofsr@yahoo.com  Thank you :)