Social photography: No filter?

I admit it. I’m something of an iPhone photo filter addict. I love how Instagram sharpens and softens images at my command. But am I duping my followers? What should newsrooms do?

Social photography and the debate around whether to use a filter was one of the sessions at this year’s Online News Association conference.

There’s no question that thinking visual is big right now in social media. For the first time ever, Instagram saw more daily users accessing its app than Twitter in August.


The many filters of Instagram. Shot during the ONA session

But whether or not news photographers should use filtered photos is still up for debate. Richard Koci Hernandez, the seasoned news photographer and University of California at Berkley lecturer who led the ONA discussion, argued there is a time and a place for filters, and highlighted black and white photos as the ultimate filter that has been around for years. Others in the session compared it to photoshop and manipulation – big nos, nos. My view: Use it sparingly for news and only in special circumstances. If you do use a filter, fess up and include it in your cutline. ** Would love to have more feedback on this.

Another @koci tip for news photogs: You can use your expensive camera and Instagram it later. Why do this? To increase a news organization’s reach. You can use hashtags on Instagram the same way you can on Twitter. How to build a following on Instagram: post 1 image, like 2, comment on 3

On another note, how to verify reader photos came out in other ONA sessions. Useful tools: Google ‘Search by Image’. Also recommended is crowdsourcing. Ask permission before using photos or videos online in story or in print. Exception: Storify, ScribbleLive – All the content we use from them links back to the user’s original account. Basically, we’re giving them credit.


More reading:

The basics: Instagram 101 from Mashable

12 tips to become a better smartphone photography from Richard Koci Hernandez

How some news orgs are using it: @chicagotribune: Created weekly photo club. Use hashtags to solicit reader pics. Highlight best on website. (ex. #TribNight, #TribSweet)@detroitfreepress, @globeandmail, @nationalpost: Using to post staff pics.

Don’t have an iPhone or Android? You can still use Instagram.

*** NOTE: Tell me if your newsroom is using Instagram and how you’re using this tool


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