This is the best idea I’ve heard in a long time. It comes from photographer and designer Andrew Griswold (@the_gris) via FStoppers. It is particularly relevant when you think of how widespread mobile is these days. Who wouldn’t rather scroll through an Instagram feed on their phone or tablet instead of trying to click their way through an online portfolio, no matter how “mobile-friendly” it is intended to be?
I’ve been looking at a lot of photo portfolio websites over the past year. First and foremost because I love discovering a photographer and exploring their work and processes. It’s inspirational and it always sets the bar higher for my own work. I have several favorites and I’ve bookmarked their websites on my laptop. Something far more worthy to look at when taking a break instead of Facebook. (Note to self: Unbookmark Facebook!)
Secondly, I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to having my own online photo portfolio, whether as an offshoot of my existing digital media website or a standalone. And every time I get close to pursuing that, I experience a mild anxiety attack. Show me any freelancer out there who wants another website to update and maintain. (As a temporary solution, I’m using Tumblr to showcase a current project (Divisadero Corridor) and current photo work and inspirations (KazzaDrask Mixed Media). Both of these sites are easy to maintain from my iPhone. In fact, even film photos and photos from my non-mobile friendly digital Ricoh camera eventually get uploaded to Flickr, where they can be then downloaded to my phone for mobile sharing.
The ultimate in mobile sharing for photos of course is Instagram. I was an early adopter of the app, posting my first photo 258 weeks ago (which is early 2011). I’ve done a bit of “curating” my feed over the years, mostly removing photos I wasn’t especially proud of and lately adding the occasional #latergram as I sort through images thinking about my photo portfolio website. But what I love about the idea of letting your Instagram feed be your photo portfolio is the honesty that comes from the app’s original intention, to share an image in an instant (preferably using the app’s built-in camera, but obviously, the plethora of smartphone camera apps long ago upped that game).
While those of us with a more professional photography bent might pause a bit to edit and then time a post, even the most disciplined of us can get caught up in the app’s instant gratification nature. “This is a really good photo and I’ve got to share it — now!”
With that comes the instant feedback. A “like”. Sometimes even a comment or a thumbs up, smiley face or lightning bolt emoji. Whoo-hoo! They like me, they really like me…
But back to the honesty. That rawness, vulnerability, a glimpse into one’s personal life is certainly rare even in Stacy Kranitz’s online portfolio. Yet, follow Stacy Kranitz’s Instagram feed (@stacykranitz). Well, that’s what I’m talking about!
In considering dropping the idea of developing a photo portfolio website, I have to drop the idea of having my work narrowed down and neatly categorized or “projectized”. I’m willing to bet that of the almost 600 photos in my Instagram feed maybe about 10 percent would make it to my mythical portfolio website (and that a good portion of the rest of my work is either unprocessed on my desktop or in Dropbox or eventually processed and haphazardly uploaded to Flickr). Don’t go there — but I’m sure you will.
None of this probably bodes well for anyone reading this hiring me for a shoot — which is the point of having a photo portfolio website. But if you do visit my website - KazzaDrask Media - and take a look around, you’ll see that photography is just one component of my digital media business. And, you’ll recognize that I am able to deliver whichever service you engage me for, despite my disorganized Flickr account.
By using Instagram as my photo portfolio, you might never know about my work as an online and digital media professional, but you will know a lot more about me. And if a photo is as much about the image as it is about the person behind the camera, then using Instagram in the manner it was intended to be used — to witness things as they happen (forgiving the occasional #latergram) — will indeed become the preferred way to at least take a first look at someone’s photography.
Sources: “Why You Don’t Need a Website and Probably Never Will” by Andrew Griswold, Fstoppers; “Stacy Kranitz is TIME’s Pick for Instagram Photographer of 2015“.