Why I love Instagram & Hipstamatic

Like every photographer nowadays, I have been shooting with my iPhone more—it has virtually replaced the pocket point & shoot! The one camera that is always with me, it has come to represent the future of photography technology, and it cannot be ignored. More often than not, my go-to photo app is Hipstamatic. Why? The funky, old fashioned, snapshot camera simulator has an interesting effect on my vision, simplifying my approach to picture making by virtually removing the post-processing part of image making. It also forces me to compose for the square frame, which is the preferred format of Instagram. Together Instagram and Hipstamatic have become a new creative outlet that is helping me limber up my creative muscles by imposing rather severe limitations—it has to be square, and it has to be finished at the moment of capture…

Wine glass

Hipstamatic 280, Jane Lens, Claunch 72 Monochrome Film

Now, of course one can re-adjust the image or add effects after-the fact, but I have chosen to avoid this in favor of the happy accident, and learning to pre-visualize… It is fun to “shake” the camera to randomize the combination of  lens, film and flash filter effects for unexpected results!


Hipstamatic 280, Jane Lens, Kodot XGrizzled FIlm

These first couple of images were captured with the older version of the Hipstamatic app, v 280—the effects were baked-in and essentially un-alterable after the shot was taken. These image effects were conceptualized as a combination of lens, film, and flash, and the newer v300 Hipstamatic continues that tradition, but now offers what, in essence, is a raw file workflow where an unaltered capture is saved, and the effects are added to a copy that can be re-edited, ad-infinitum with alternative filter effects…


Hipstamatic 280 Jane Lens, D-Type Plate film

The Hipstamatic system currently offers and infinite variety of image effect through a dizzying array of filter combinations that generate color, tone, age, flare, and edge effects. You can get a feel for the complete range by visiting the official website: http://hipstamatic.com/ – click along the top row of images to peak at the lens/film combinations! You can continue down the rabbit hole easily enough from here, but check out the blog: http://blog.hipstamatic.com for a deep-dive into more recent developments. There is also: http://hipstography.com/en/ another blog site devoted to the various emerging artists of the international Hipstamatic community. Thats right, community—early on Hipstamatic supplied access to a sharing mechanism from within the app, but the developers were really much more into the filter effects and image capturing experience, and since the early days, Instagram became the image sharing community most gravitated to so it is now, more or less, THE ruling sharing platform.

My advice, as a starting place for exploration, is to take a series of test shots with different combinations of lens and film—ignore the flash effects for now, and set up some pre-sets you can use… Directions for how to do this can be discovered on the websites mentioned above!

Here is a short series that demonstrates some of my favorite combinations…


Hipstamatic 311, Tinto 1884 Lens, D-Type Plate film


Hipstamatic 311, John S Lens, Uchitel 20 film


Hipstamatic 311, Lucifer VI Lens, Blackeys B+W film


Hipstamatic 311, Lowry Lens, Sussex film

After you’ve chosen a few combinations you like – just set-it & forget it —start capturing images without thinking about re-editing. I have come to love the formalism that the square frame imposes on the composition. There is no concept of vertical vs horizontal with a square and the symmetry of the square invites one to violate it whenever possible. Fewer choices often create a kind of pressure to “see ‘ better! I invite you to play with this and get a feel for the new process of discovery that can lead you into new creative territory—here are some examples of places I’ve been:

Check out my Instagram account for more images, uploaded daily: https://www.instagram.com/leevaris/