Recently on Facebook Nina sent me a message about the iPhone photograph app Instagram, as I’m doing my capstone on photography and Nina rocks. This application allows users to take photos, add some sort of filter or effect to the image, and share it with others. It’s exploded in popularity lately. What Nina sent was a small blurb about and a link to a blog post by Clive Thompson.

In this post Thompson talks about how the application Instagram has helped him to change the way he looks at things. After using the app for some period of time Thompson says “But for me, the really deep appeal of Instagram is more subtle: It changes the way I look at the world around me.”

Later, he goes on to talk about how Instagram has changed the way he looks at his world saying:

“But filtering makes me look at stuff with fresh eyes. The unaltered picture of that brownstone door was attractive enough; but after the Lomo filter I realized it reminded me of a Tardis. I began scrutinizing otherwise blasé stuff in my house, wondering, hmm, how would that look with a filter applied?”

This is very interesting to me. Like most photographers (speaking from intuition here), I went through a similar visual change and sensitivity when I first became serious about photography. This happens, I believe, because amateur photographers are told “just get out there and shoot”, and indeed many follow just that advice. To me, the thinking behind this is really a theory of Somaesthetics. For photographers, you can’t develop your eye for photography by simply reading about it or studying photography masters, you must get out there and shoot. Furthermore, many photographers never receive any formal training, but instead say they learn by simply “getting out there and shooting”.

So, while I’ve never heard about Somaesthetics before our current reading, it would seem that Photography culture cerainly practices a bit. Thompson’s article also seems to point out that by ‘doing’ sensitivity is increased, and perhpas I’m stretching this a bit, but so is his life.

Thompson, Clive. (December 6, 2010). How Instagram changes the way I look at things. Retrieved from

Shusterman, R. (1999). Somaesthetics: A disciplinary proposal. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 57(3), 299–313. Blackwell Publishing; The American Society for Aesthetics. Retrieved from