Week 1: The Challenges of Global Photography

Mobile Phones and Social

Media Applications/Sites/Instagram

One of the biggest challenges that image-makers and consumers of photography face with the global photography, is finding and maintaining their unique photographic voice within social media apps that promote photo sharing and photo journalism. Anyone with a modern day mobile phone is an instant photographer. With built-in photo editing software, these mobile phones and applications allow users to take even their most plain photograph and turn it into something appealing. It’s no longer a requirement to know the craft of lighting, composition when you have filter that can spoof up your image and distract from its ‘faults’.

Diversity, Homogenisation, Universalism and the Surplus

Before the invention of social sites like MySpace Music, HiFi, Facebook and the ultimate social photo media app Instagram, many of us did not regularly engage in food photography, took selfie photos or snapshots of sunsets and everyday things we came across.

Social media has revolutionised photography, has made it so much part of everyday life, that for some, it has become impossible to go through a day without taking a photograph. Of course without the modern mobile phone camera and the ground ability to connect to the internet, social media might have been less saturated with images and more diversified than homogenised.

In the beginning (diversity > homogenised) In the beginning, Instagram brought a diversity to what was already out there by connecting its global users and giving them tools, options like instant filters that make our subject matter look different, interesting and cool.

However, the more popular the application became, the very diversity it offered soon overlapped with homogenisation. Diversity and homogenisation in the photographic world of today have been merged by the famous Instagram #tagging system, allowing more than ½ billion of its users to share their filtered images under word themes. To date, there are over 34 billion 700 million images on Instagram, and every day more than 52 million images are uploaded. (Statistic Brain 2016) making it virtually impossible for diversity to be completely separated from homogenisation. They have in many aspects become synonymous.

Universalism is no-where more prevalent than Instagram. Even though it’s a US creation, over 60% of its users are from countries outside of the United States. And while they bring cultural diversity, their photographic images take on the culture of Instagram – you just have to skim through #tagged word theme images from users around the world to witness this universalism. Every other image shares something with a previous image.. millions of selfies are alike in composition, random faces flashing by… the same can be said of food, landmarks, holiday snaps and portraits etc. The diversity is there but because it’s there in abundance it is homogenised.


BRAIN, Statistic. 2016. 'Instagram Company Statistics' [online] Available at: http://www.statisticbrain.com/instagram-company-statistics/) [accessed on 24/09/2016]

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