The New Kodak Moment

Why Storytelling Is Harder Than Ever

The following post originally appeared at BrianSolis.com.

As a brand who innovated and heralded a technology that made time stand still – the Kodak moment became a colloquialism equivalent to capturing a moment worth savoring forever. For several generations, Kodak was the world’s record keeper. But those times have quickly come and gone.

Every moment ever photographed was a Kodak moment. Until they f***ed it all up. As my friend Brian Solis succinctly points out – the Kodak moment now marks the implosion of an amazing brand…the moment they missed how consumer behavior was shifting. It marks the hubris to resist the forces that made it successful. Worst of all, it commemorates the rift between a brand’s vision and the people who make a brand what it is.

Looking back several generations, the costs and challenges of photography and videography limited how much media we could create. Brands didn’t face this challenge – flush with the money and resources to create the most effective media. Today’s smartphone-rich world, however, affords everyone the opportunity to participate in storytelling.

Read more over at BrianSolis.com

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Behind “Instagram Is” with @technopaul

"Instagram Is isn't just a film; it is a change in perspective"

November 12, 2013 Add Comment Jay Park

Although an early adopter of the popular visual-sharing platform, it wasn’t until September of 2012 that Paul Tellefsen began using Instagram much more seriously. After attending an “instameet” held by popular Instagrammer, Cory Staudacher (@withhearts), Paul was immediately drawn into the endless possibilities that the app offered: the creativity, community, and inspiration.

This all-star visual storyteller, director, and artist has surrounded himself with film and photography all his life, leading up to the founding of his own company Technopaul Productions, a visual production company centered around film, photography, and graphic design. His most recent claim to fame is Instagram Is–a documentary short about the Instagram community.

“It was something that was foreign to me,” Paul recalled. “How can you build true community through social media? But I caught on to his vision and heart fast. Almost overnight, the way I used Instagram changed from photo sharing, getting likes and followers, to building genuine community.”

Fully embracing the idea of the Instagram community, he dove right in. Very quickly, he began to experiment with new photography techniques, bonded with individuals across the world, and was featured on several accounts like @instagood.

It was studying at UT Dallas, that he was assigned to make a fake movie trailer for one of his classes. Naturally, he decided to focus on Instagram and recorded one of his personal instameets where he interviewed those Instagrammers that were present. However, he soon realized that the story of Instagram transcended a mini-fake trailer for one class and decided to make it into a full film.

Instagram Is isn’t just a film; it is a change in perspective,” he says. “Whether you are new to Instagram, don’t know about Instagram, never have liked Instagram, or just need fresh inspiration the film speaks to all these audiences. When I created Instagram Is I never could have imagined the impact it would have. I am ever grateful to be apart of this community of intentional creatives.”

Since the film’s inception, Paul has grown dramatically as an artist, director, filmmaker, and person, and he attributes a lot of it to the community he grew to embrace on Instagram. In his words, “Instagram will always be about community.” It isn’t something that can be forced or stopped on a whim; it’s organic and builds over time, and the bonds that are made tie it all together to make it last.

Check out the inspiring Instagram Is documentary and follow Paul Tellefsen on Instagram at @technopaul!

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Instagram Highlight: #AdventurerMe with @AnthonyMarcano

"I'm always looking to inspire people just like I've been inspired by others"

September 19, 2013 Add Comment Jay Park

Instagram has proven that one doesn’t need to be a professional to create beautiful content and lead inspiring lives. Anthony Marcano hopes to inspire this exact ideal in his followers to make their own adventures and photograph the journey.

Initially, the freelance photographer from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania  joined the Instagram community based on word-of-mouth from his friends along with his interest in photo filters. Eventually though, he realized that the potential of the social platform allowed so much more.

“I started focusing on achieving the best results with Instagram about a year and half ago,” he recounts. “When I say best results, I was consciously trying to render the best images via my followers’ responses, shooting, compositions and being creative.”

From then on, Instagram became not just another photo app but a challenge–a constant reminder to Anthony that he could do better with his work.

“When work was slow, I used the app to keep myself productive and the creativity fresh. I’ve always had a hands-on approach to keeping my work constant.”

He later brought that sense of challenge and competition to his friend, Dan Newman, and the both of went on spontaneous trips to “wherever we thought we could capture the best images” last winter. Sometimes driving up to the mountains for hours eventually inspired Anthony to create his own hashtag campaign that he titled #AdventurerMe–inspired by his Instagram friend Carter Moore.

“I enjoy what I do because I travel, discover places to shoot and meet interesting people along the way,” he says. “I’m always looking to inspire people just like I’ve been inspired by others.”

So get out there and make your own adventures happen. Don’t forget to tag those photos with #AdventurerMe and follow @AnthonyMarcano on Instagram!

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September 12, 2013 Add Comment Monica Watson

It used to be the way you take better pictures is you learn to be a better photographer. You get bigger cameras, bigger lenses, you learn about all the techniques of light meters and gels and filters, and you can spend your lifetime learning how to take advantage of this and make it work for you.

For the people who want do that, that’s great. For most of us, we just want to take a picture, and have the iPhone take a better picture for us.

- Phil Schieller, Senior VP of Marketing at Apple

The above quote comes from the Apple release of the iPhone 5c and 5s. The announcement came with a variety of updates to the phone’s camera – an upgraded flash, a better lens, and a larger sensor. Smartphones have taken a big chunk of the point-and-shoot market, now Apple is gearing up to do the same to DSLRs.

By playing up the learning curve of DSLRs and touting the iPhone’s camera quality, Schieller is encouraging consumers to put down lenses in exchange for iPhones. And why wouldn’t most consumers do exactly that? In one device they have the tools to take, edit, and share photos. A DSLR doesn’t provide that immediacy that we’ve become accustomed to.

What do you think is the next step for consumer-level DSLR manufacturers to compete with the iPhone, the Lumia, and even Sony’s Lens Cameras? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter.

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Today, we are witnessing a high-stakes battle between camera and smartphone creators to be the go-to device for consumer photography. With double the photos being taken today than two years ago – more than 500 million – photography is becoming the main form of communication. With that growth, companies are clamoring to be the device that consumers turn to to create that content.

The initial decision by camera companies to earn this market was to shrink down consumer cameras. If cameras were just as small – if not smaller – than camera phones, surely that would boost sales. Except, it didn’t. The numbers show that point-and-shoot camera sales continue to decline while smartphone sales are up.

A number of factors lead to this; one being the late and limited adoption of social tools and internet access into cameras. The point of the camera is to document and share, something all smartphones provide but still only a limited number of point-and-shoots do. The second issue: why would someone choose to purchase and carry a camera that’s the same size of a device they already have that takes only moderately better photos?

However, one market that has seen a boost with consumers is the dSLR market. Photo editing apps and platforms have made people invested in photography. This has lead the interest in entry-level dSLRs like the Canon Rebel to grow, and slowly some smartphone capabilities like basic internet and touchscreen are being adopted into the devices.

Now, Sony is reportedly taking a completely different approach with their rumored “lens cameras” – small attachable lenses to use with seemingly any smartphone to make it a high quality camera. Instead of trying to get customers to use two separate devices or be the smartphone with the best camera, they are giving people a whole new option: keep the device you already love, but make it better. It’s the same logic that make apps on phones so popular, and Sony is banking on it being the answer to decreasing point-and-shoot sales.

Leaked photo from SonyAlphaRumors

How do you think camera manufacturers should address this new culture of photographers? Would you use the Sony Lens Camera? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below.

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Instagram Highlight: Capturing Beauty with @5ftinf

"A perfect way of capturing small moments of beauty which quickly disappear"

August 21, 2013 Add Comment Jay Park

Philippa Stanton, the contemporary artist by the sea, is all about soaking in the beauty surrounding her life–and preserving those moments forever.

“I like sitting, listening and looking hard at what’s constantly around me,” she tells us, “mostly whilst drinking tea.”

Philippa began her Instagram journey like many others–with no particular goal in mind. But she soon found the aesthetic with which she wanted to share and inspire the world.

“I realized it was a perfect way of capturing small moments of beauty which quickly disappear,” she says. “I don’t plan; I just see what the weather is like, which flowers haven’t been eaten by snails and what colors I’m in the mood for.”

Her focus is on the ever-fleeting, simple yet beautiful things in life. From picturesque flowers growing in her garden to a cup of jasmine tea, Philippa has gained recognition for her impeccable eye for object placement and tasteful color palette.

“When I realized I had developed my own style–table still life–I created my own hashtag so people could enjoy a gallery of tables,” she explains. “They could watch the seasons changing with the flowers and light.”

Her project, #5ftinftable, features table arrangements–including anything from tea kettles to books to flowers. However, the biggest impact that the visual app has made on Philippa is the motivation that the incredibly tight-knit and supportive Instagram community gives her everyday.

“Being an artist is solitary,” she says. “You can lose track of how you view your own work. [...] The   community out there is always so reassuring and always encourages me to keep working creatively.”

So continue supporting artists everywhere and check out some of Philippa’s immortalized moments of beauty in the gallery below as well as her Instagram at @5ftinf and website.

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August 12, 2013 Add Comment Jay Park

This past weekend, San Francisco was flooded with avid music-lovers from all over for the 6th annual Outside Lands. Thousands filled Golden Gate Park to watch live performances ranging from Paul McCartney to electronic sensation Kaskade.

Throughout the park, people were snapping and sharing photos instantly. When Paul McCartney graced the stage and began the iconic “Hey Jude,” the crowd clamored to record the music legend through their smartphones as they sang along. Similarly, hundreds of cameras flashed as “Flea” returned to the stage doing handstands during their encore performance. In the past, fans had to bring cameras and DSLr’s to the event in order to capture these moments–if cameras were even allowed at all. Now, all we need to do is snap a photo and share it on our smartphones.

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The engagement extended beyond just attendees, however. The Outside Lands social team promoted their official #OutsideLands hashtag for attendees to use and a live webcast for those following at home. They’ve also worked to ensure that the post-event conversation remains just as active through a highlight reel on Ustream as well as actively tweeting about their mascot Ranger Dave recovering from the weekend.

Below, you can check out our own curated display of some great shots that stood out across the thousands #OutsideLands tagged photos over the weekend!

Have a favorite moment you captured at Outside Lands or another festival this summer? Let us know on Twitter or in your comments below!

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Instagram Highlight: Colors, Pop, and Patterns with @thugliveforevs

"Instagram has really helped me start to define myself."

August 7, 2013 Add Comment Jay Park

Emily Blincoe (@thuglifeforevs) didn’t start off on Instagram with a defined artistic vision. However, today this part-time waitress from Austin, Texas is making the big transition to become a full-time photographer partially thanks to the audience she cultivated through the platform.

“When I started out using Instagram, I didn’t put much thought into the random snapshots I was posting,” she recalls. “I was already decently into photography, but I didn’t know what I wanted with photography, or what photography wanted with me.”

For any artist, it can be a definite struggle to find your own voice and break out into the professional sphere. Instagram, Vine, and other creator-focused platforms are making it easier for artists to attain this level of credibility. In the past, hopeful professionals had to submit their portfolios to whatever limited opportunities they came across and hope that they could rise above the pack. Now, visual artists can get noticed and discovered more easily, much like Meagan Cignoli with her viral Vines or @IdaFrosk for her creative food art.

“Instagram has really helped me start to define myself,” Emily says. “I have a much better idea now of what I am working toward and what my goals are as an artist and photographer. I started to try new things–a little series here or there–or I would go explore a place in my town i had never been.”

Emily found her aesthetic in playing with colors – using space and hues to create stunning photos, which you can see some of below. The #colorsorganizedneatly series arranges similar objects in content and color within a perfectly geometrical square while #chamelonportrait shows her human models blending in perfectly with patterned backgrounds.

“I guess I’ve never really had a proper outlet to just do what I wanted creatively,” she says. “For me, that is what Instagram is and should be. I’m really thankful for that.”

Make sure you follow this brilliant artist on Instagram at @thuglifeforevs and keep an eye out for her future projects!

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July 31, 2013 Add Comment Jay Park

Ida Skivenes (@IdaFrosk) plays with her food. Self-described as a “regular girl with a passion for food and art, who loves sharing easy, healthy and creative meals,” she certainly has shown one of the more creative uses of the #foodporn hashtag in Instagram.

Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback she got from the Insta-community, she’s making the transition from food art as a hobby to a full-time endeavor.

“I started doing food art photography on Instagram in June 2012 on a whim,” she recalls. “It’s been an incredibly journey. I make everything from simple fruit snacks to recreations of famous artworks on toast. I’ve developed a specific style.”

Pulling inspiration from modern art, cartoons, and films, Ida has transformed an ordinary, everyday object into a rising art form. The ease of modern visual sharing and the attention she gained from this spontaneous idea inspired her to flesh out her food art ideas to give it substance and credibility.

“From August, I’m taking leave for a year form my day job in statistics to try to do food art full-time,” she announces. “I have a book coming out both in Norwegian and English in the autumn, already available for pre-order on Amazon.”

Social media not only influences the lives of the millions of people who view beautiful images and artwork like Ida’s, but it can also radically (and spontaneously) change someone’s direction in life. From @Ginny_JRT’s book deals to @mattbg’s leave from work to travel across Asia, people are getting new opportunities from the creative visual content they’re sharing.

“I will also do some workshops, festivals, columns and perhaps some advertising. Just waiting to see what exciting projects will dump into my mail box after that really,” she says.

After seeing how insanely creative and amazing some of her creations have been so far, we can only imagine how she’ll continue to innovate in the field of mobile photography.

Here’s to you, Ida! Best of luck in your year-long adventure into food art. Make sure to support this amazing artist and follow her @IdaFrosk.

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Is it time to change the way we teach kids? With the rise of the Visual Revolution, people like Martin Scorsese and George Lucas are encouraging schools to teach not only language and grammar in their core classes but also visual communication skills – art, cinematography, and photography.

The distinction between verbal and visual literacy needs to be done away with, along with the tired old arguments about the word and the image and which is more important. They’re both important. They’re both fundamental. Both take us back to the core of who we are.

- Martin Scorcese

In his book The Age of the Image: Redefining Literacy in a World of Screens, Stephen Apkon argues that society is visually illiterate and lacks a way to fully engage with visual forms of communication – something that George Lucas believes our school system should be addressing.

The good news is that, just like reading became an easier skill to attain through inventions like the printing press and typewriter, visual literacy is becoming easier to grasp. You can film, edit and share all through a smartphone. Apps like Vine and Instagram are making communicating through video and photography attainable.

The invention of the Internet opened up the opportunity to be a writer on a much larger scale – people who started off writing blog posts have landed book deals or turned writing for the web into a career. The same is happening with video and smartphones – the tools have become so much easier to use, so now we have professional Youtubers and Viners creating careers around these formats.

With these forms of communication becoming more prevalent and important of course they should begin being taught in schools as more than just supplementary courses because they are swiftly becoming more than just supplementary communication tools. If school is meant to prepare kids for the world they’ll enter as adults – both professionally and personally – then it’s vital that visual literacy becomes a standard part of the curriculum.

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