Younstagram has been criticized in recent weeks for prioritizing short videos—known as Reels on the platform—over photos in a perceived effort to replicate the success of its rival TikTok.
Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and other prominent celebrities have voiced their disapproval of this change. Jenner re-shared a post calling to “Make Instagram Instagram Again” that added “I just want to see cute photos of my friends.” This led Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri to respond to the criticism in a post where he revealed that “more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time,” marking a serious shift away from the photo-sharing app’s original purpose.
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Mosseri claims that the increase in videos on Instagram is partly to Mosseri’s fault, but Ryan Kemp (freelance photographer, owner of @theworldisananalog) says users have been forced to make the change.
“When [Reels] started, Instagram started pushing like ‘oh, you can make up to $1,000 a month if you do reels’ for bigger accounts like myself,” Kemp tells TIME. Kemp attempted to create Reels with more than 22,000 Instagram followers. But it felt ingenious.
“I think it’s just important for anyone to create and share the work they love, even if you didn’t share it publicly,” he says. “I think that’s what’s getting lost in the mix of this. The people just want to have all of the attention, followers and financial success. That kinda puts a damper in things. It misses the point.”
If you don’t like the Instagram experience, here are some alternative options.
Launched just last August, Glass markets itself as a photo-sharing app that’s not for comparison, but community. Co-founders Tom Watson and Stefan Borsje say that they hoped to make an app that wasn’t charged by addictive algorithms or that collected personal data. This inspired their “appreciate” feature that functions similar to a “like” button, but is ascribed as more intentional and slower. The app was programmed to allow users to turn off “appreciations” and have no record of the number of “appreciations” on a post, similar to Instagram’s feature that allows users to hide a post’s like count.
Glass claims that users are able to have more control over what content they consume. You can also get a chronological feed of photos posted by your followers.
The app can be used in full-screen mode by users to zoom in on the details of photos. This app requires users to pay, unlike Instagram. After the initial 2 week free trial, glass costs $4.99 per year or $29.99 annually.
Grainery is the ideal app to use for film photographers. Its initial layout looks very similar to Instagram. However, this app asks users to add the type of camera, lens, or film stock they use before they’re able to post, in an effort to build an index of photos users can get inspiration from.
You can choose between a monthly subscription option or a free one. Subscribers have unlimited access, can update their profile, and are eligible to win a roll of film for free by entering a monthly raffle.
Tumblr, once valued at over a billion dollars in peak growth during 2013, was the only online place for users to upload images prior to Instagram’s rise. Tumblr, a social networking platform that targets unique subcultures like fans of television, movies, and books, has retained the original features of social blogging rather than copying its competitors.
Tumblr does not have any influencers and advertising content like other social media sites. It’s a much more functional platform, where users can easily find content they like based on their niche. And despite reports of the brand falling off in recent years—valued at just $3 million in 2019—Tumblr appears to be becoming popular with users again, says Kemp, who has had a Tumblr account for years. “A lot of people are going back to Tumblr… So maybe eventually I’ll do that.”
Distinct from Instagram in that users can only post one photo a day, BeReal marks a push towards giving users a chance to present a more authentic version of themselves, in stark contrast to the highly curated Instagram profiles we’re used to seeing. BeReal, which is popular among Gen Z users, occasionally sends alerts to its users. The suggested timeframe to post a photograph is two minutes. Users engage with their friend’s posts through reaction selfies instead of likes, and can only view posts if they upload a photo first.
Learn more BeReal Won’t Save Us From Social Media—Yet
It is appealing to many because there are no edits or filters. “With BeReal you don’t feel the pressure to participate in some form of performative action,” says Filipa Costa, a 22-year-old Boston University graduate. “It’s all about being in the moment.”
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