Working in the field of intimate photography is challenging. Usually you meet at an airport and drive to a location. Within only a few hours you need to find a connection between the model and the photographer to work together as a team. Everyone needs to stay focussed, to be able to tell a story and to produce the images that are desired. The deeper you can dive into the mood, the better. The less distraction, the better.
Now, a new team member joined in. He is present in every shooting, calls for attention and causes breaks. His name is: instagram.
I always thought, I was telling the stories. And I was responsible for it. But this new rival is a strong competitor. Interrupting shootings and causing a disconnection between model and photographer. It's a pity, but it became reality on set.
Here's a behind the scenes photo I took during a shooting with the consent of the model. I could have taken it on many of my past shootings. Every now and then, it's smartphone time.
What amazes me mostly is the fact that it has become normal to post backstage photos live, without even asking the photographer. There used to exist a sense for setting priorities. Not any longer. Among many models, instagram has become number one in the priority list.
This is not only sad from a creative point of view. I also feel pity for people who are addicted to their phone. Working on presenting a life they are not living. Stuck in a virtual world.
Interestingly enough, the tool itself, this instagram platform, isn't bad at all. Ok, besides censorship which is a drawback for a nude photographer like me. But overall, it's a good way of getting a quick overview of portfolios. And also to connect with other creative people. I have to admit, I enjoy it. And it fascinates me to see talents from all over the world and beautiful images.
Unfortunately in the model world, the well-measured dosage is easily given up. Because you need to have followers to get jobs. And the more famous you are, the more attention you get. You even receive freebies like shoes, invitations to shop openings and hotel stays. Then it becomes a sure-fire success, you post more, you get more likes. And soon it leads to an escapism into this instagram world.
The addiction of instagram becomes a bit odd when you produce content yourself and know how fake everything is. From finding a nice angle to photograph yourself in a way you absolutely do not look (caused by the wide-angle lens of your smartphone). To using apps to virtually update your face. To making your own life look more glamourous than it is, just to make others jealous. And then consuming other people's instagram lifes – feeling small. Because their lives seem more luxurious than your own, although you know it has been faked by them, too.
And insta stories work like a drug. For both, the people making the instant stories and their followers. As those stories are just online for 24 hours, this has the highest addiction potential. You ought not to miss anything. And you need to constantly feed your followers not to lose your fame.
In the beginning, I was surprised how weak those insta stories are. But then I understood that the less professional the whole thing is, the closer a follower connects to an (unapproachable) model. The brain plays a trick. Wobbly videos, bad sound, boring everyday situations make the viewer feel, they are friends with the person they follow. As they really let you look into their private life and most of the time even in real time.
Of course, the photo series I produce are false as well. I produce pictorials to make you dream and visually take you into another world. It's entertainment.
And this is the big difference: On instagram you're ought to believe what you see. Take it for real, even though many things are staged.
From a professional perspective, I hope this hype around instagram will be over soon. When models use it as a fun tool instead of something that governs their life, it will be alright. Entertaining and fun. And healthier for all of us.
Simon Bolz, Frankfurt
Tel.: +49 (69) 95 82 02 12
Mob.: +49 (172) 620 55 18