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ABSTRACT. At the convergence point where my practice and the ongoing developments of technology meet lies a question. It is not the only question but the one which I have chosen to focus on because of how it may affect the future of my practice. I have come here due to an ever increasing cloud of circumstances which, being too large to articulate, always in a state of flux, elusive and both positively and negatively charged, I have come to name Disturbia. Where practice and Disturbia meet there forms a mise en abyme, a nexus where I may rest and self reflect but also a point through which I can pass, reflecting aspects of the past but creating new dimensions in the spaces ahead. More specifically, through an unfolding mix of ongoing growth and embedding of technology within the photographic industry, the pressures on my practice to be current with updates and innovation of those technologies, and a declining number of clients as technology has created various new entry points which may be competing with some of what my practice offers, I have come to this research. This has been a two year participatory, auto-ethnographical practice-led phenomenological study positioned between smartphone photographers, mobile photo-social networking app Instagram and the rising trend of major commercial brands enabling smartphone photographers belonging to Instagram[1] or Instagrammers to shoot, supply and distribute visual content on behalf of the brand label within the Instagram ecosystem. My research is an exploration of how this is quickly evolving and questions if a new ‘image economy’ is rising and bringing with it a quality of experience ‘tax’ while capturing the intimate moments of our personal lives for commercial use. As a practice, which provides commercial photography and leads workshops, we needed to step back and see if within this trend there are signs which present a case for a redesign of our framework and deployment of new services in order to sustain a creative practice in the future. 

[1] INSTAGRAM. (2013) Capture and share the world’s moments. [Online] Available from: http://instagram.


com/#. [Accessed: 3rd August 2013].

Photo: Reuters/Ray Stubblebine

Photo: AP/Michael Sohn


BACKGROUND. My practice is a small medium enterprise or

SME called The Mango Lab[2].There are two of us, my partner Julia and myself, but we also collaborate with other creative practitioners to produce and provide unique learning experiences within our community. We have two studios in Chiswick, London, where we provide imagery for clients such as Reuters[3] and Getty[4] and facilitate workshops for government, business, tourism and private clients. In addition I am an Associate Lecturer under the University Arts London[5] umbrella, where I design and teach short courses and professional away-days using photography as the medium for common ground discoveries and communication exploration. It is because the practice extends across multiple platforms, from content generators to acquirers of photography, the general public to both SME’s and NGO’s (non-governmental organisations), print to multi-media, both as educator and image provider, I have a long reach within this research. It is due to this industry immersion that I chose to purse primarily a lengthy participatory auto-ethnography. By exploring this new technology I hoped to meet more ‘digital natives’ than ‘digital immigrants’[6], and through conversations widen my understanding of what the practice was doing and how it may be seen. The opportunity to not only ‘practice what I preach’ but also practice what was becoming new knowledge in the diverse faculties I perform within provided for a rich, first person (practitioner) view of the changing landscape. In addition I was in the fortunate position that I could test observations and get feedback from these faculties as I pursue this research. [2] MASSEY-STEWART, J. (2013) The Mango Lab. [Online] Available from: http://www.themangolab.co.uk/index.html#sthash.TYqm4Cm2.dpbs. [Accessed: 2nd August 2013] [3] REUTERS INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF JOURNALISM. (2013) [Online] Available from: https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk. [Accessed: 3rd August 2013] [4] GETTY IMAGES. (2013) [Online] Available from: http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/?esource=google+UK_Brand_Getty_Images_Exact_EN_SL&kw=UK+getty+images+&lid=s3irh67lb|dc&pcrid=27274228006&property=GI&kwd=getty+images&mt=e. [Accessed: 3rd August 2013] [5] UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS LONDON. CENTRAL SAINT MARTINS. (2013) Photographers’ London. [Online] Available from: http://www.csm.arts.ac.uk/shortcourses/mediaarts/summerschool/photography/photographerslondon. [Accessed: 3rd August 2013] [6] PRENSKY, M. (2001) Digital Natives. Digital lmmigrants. [Online] October. Available from: htp://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf. [Accessed: 4th May 2013] Photo at right: IG/ @thehashtagofman




Before moving forward with the research perhaps a brief ‘note to self’ of where the practice rests in terms of its manifesto. A trimmed down version appears on our website as ‘Enthusiastic. Fresh. Fun. Alive. See Different. Be Different.’[7], therefore quickly dispelling any suspicion of stuffy pedagogy in our facility. Operating under this colourful mandate we brand that participants will do more than simply learn with us - they will connect and grow through the relationships we build. The photography is simply a means to an end. Our products are these positive values, initiated through the medium of photography. This is something we have maintained since we opened our doors five years ago. Borrowing from Philip’s, the engineering and electronics corporate group, ‘Paradigm in Value Creation’[8], which examines developing relations between business and people, our praxis lies comfortably in the ‘unfolding column’ while our workshops and events extend us into the ‘futures’ column. We ‘enable creativity, open-tools, self-development, and participation’ so that we may grow the practice in the direction which resonates from our be-ing. As I look at Philip’s qualities for a future or ‘transformation’ economy and how they anticipate the people’s future mindset being one which searches for relationships that offer ‘meaningful living’, I feel we are innovators. Beta-testing our constructs which use ‘transformative thinking’, ‘empathy and cooperation’, ‘meaningful cooperation’ and are ‘systemic’, we look to create something much more than an experience - our self actualisation comes from designing scenarios where we can enable others to reach their own potential. It is important that throughout this research I hold these thoughts. As I measure the knowledge and any movements forward I do not wish to jeopardise them. I say this not because I believe that the research will lead to anything too untoward, but because if there is any bias it would come from fracturing these values. As mentioned, the photography is the method by which we (my practice) produce our ‘goods’ - the engagements between people and within the self. The explorations ahead will not be looking at the quality of the image, nor its philosophy or history, but photography/ image making as a commodity, a means to an end. And, like for my practice, that end shifts with the ebb and flow of technology. These words are the record of a voyage, an autoethnographic document of that process.

The Mango LAb and its ETHOS and Community

enable creativity open-tools

self-development transformation

meaningful living participation

be-ing empathy



[7] MASSEY-STEWART, J. (2013) The Mango Lab/ About Us. [Online] Available from: http://www.themangolab.co.uk/about_us.html#sthash.X2UmZ18L. slBCgb0J.dpbs [Accessed: 2nd August 2013]. [8] BRAND, R. & ROCCHI, S. (2011) Rethinking value in a changing landscape - A Philips Design Paper [Online]. Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. Available from: http://www.design.philips.com/philips/shared/ assets/design_assets/pdf/nvbD/april2011/paradigms.pdf. [Accessed: 20th February 2013]

Opposite page photo: themangolab/Karl Grupe


Philips ‘Paradigm in Value Creation’

[9] BRAND, R. & ROCCHI, S. (2011) Rethinking value in a changing landscape - A Philips Design Paper [Online]. Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. Available from: http://www.design.philips.com/philips/shared/assets/design_assets/ pdf/nvbD/april2011/paradigms.pdf. [Accessed: 20th February 2013]


Has the smartphone been a game changer? enable creativity open-tools

self-development transformation

meaningful living participation

be-ing empathy

Top Photo: Anon Bottom photo: AP/Michael Sohn





FUTUREPEEKING. I am peering in on a space in time where the path of a commercial practice, the ongoing force forward of technology and the active participants of both converge. It is a place where what the practice has both relied and built itself on - its intuitive capital - is no longer considered as much in need due to paradigm shifts caused by technologies in its marketplace. This reflexive practice uses my business as alchemist’s bowl as I mix perception of practice with shifting market paradigms, tacit knowledge with explorative thought, new tech with updated tech. The aim is to develop a fresh ontology as I play between the virtual and physical worlds, poking at thoughts which pose questions as to where my practice lies beyond this snapshot here in the now. After all, my business is as much a stakeholder in the ongoing rise and rise of such technological advancement as it is a surrogate prophet, pointing participants in the direction of the latest technologies. Therefore throughout this narrative it is hoped that my perspective as a reflective practitioner and the transparency about my personal practical experience and sojourns in and away from a comfort zone through both articulation and methodology will provide insight and knowledge for the reader as they have done for me.[10] During this story, various stages will be recorded. It has always been in the background that I unearth a small act of ‘strangeness’[11] in order to shake loose from these deep roots embedded from years of my own practice at the very least the opportunity for a new knowing. That from the strange would come a seed to germinate into ideas. I was not so interested in the making of something new such as an object, a piece of furniture, a device or an app. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it was just what I didn’t wish to do this now; feeling too many of us, myself included, had grown complacent from the blessings of fecundity[12] I felt that I wanted to stop and sit this one out. I wanted to see if I could be just a bit more ‘East’ in my approach - lean away from the capitalism[13], open the door, step out into field and watch the scenery as it passes by. As a photographer maybe by sitting here in the thicket there was something to be seen.

to the trees, click. Others had a lunch arranged perfectly with selected breads and cheeses and the aesthetically complimentary wine and picnic cloth. They were moving back and forth, getting in close, moving their camera phones in to higher and then lower positions. Not eating, just shooting. Moving the cheese in ever so

[12] GOLD, R. (2007) The Plentitude: Creativity, Innovation, and Making Stuff. Cambridge

slightly. There. Perfect! Further along, over by the water there were girls and boys, aged 14 - 21, posing in bathing suits and shirts pulled up over the tight bellies, pouty lips and masterfully painted fingernails, hard tanned bodies and ‘dope’ gestures. The boys would flex outward while the girls dipped and arched their spines, there was a coquettishness in their eye. They were speaking a visual language we all know but best photographed and ‘pinged’ (a computer social networking colloquialism for sending a text or photo message, in this case, from smartphone to smartphone) by the young. There were still others, more reserved, reminding me of turtles, popping out to take a picture here and there, only to return to a head-dipped-forward-hunched-over position, staring into their palms, tapping with a fierce cold stare into the tablet of white light. And the longer I stayed the more people arrived, and my thicket, where I once had all this space to think and observe was populating quickly. Here we gathered, not talking to each other, not really even acknowledging one another, but active between many spaces and times. This overlapping of ‘bounded solidarities’[14] - a term Ling refers to for groups joined through mobile communication and the never-secure-for too-long position within Roger’s Diffusion of Innovations curve[15] - I observe happens as technologies update and insider/outsiders are formed simply by

Social Cohesion. Cambridge Massachusetts: The MIT Press,

Massachusetts: The MIT Press. [13] KUNST, B. (2012) Art and labour: On consumption, laziness and less work. Performance Research: On Labour and Performance. 17. (6/December). p.116-125. [14] LING, R. (2008) New Tech, New Ties:How Mobile Communication is Reshaping

[15] DIFFUSION OF INNOVATIONS (2013) [Online]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations. [Accessed: 3rd July 2013] Photo opposite page: Composite created on Apple iPhone4s by the author and is a compilation of five seconds of updates on Instagram’s Explore page, a page dedicated to its high volume of ‘likes’ voted in by the Instagram user through the use of the smartphone. This page has changed over the year from pretty pictures of sunsets and nature to popular people, celebrities, and kitsch.

Photo below: A comment from Professor John Wood during one of the author’s presentations at design salons. The purpose of attending and presenting at these was to gain feedback from experts and learn how the research material was received. Professor Wood provided some very supportive comments but one clear suggestion was to be aware of my professional experience and the bias I may present in the change I am observing.

their place on the curve. Similar to the practice, the being drawn into this emerging cIoud, and unexpectantly ‘getting wet’, as if being caught out, through the precipitation of technology came to be Disturbia. [10] GRAY, C. and MALINS, J. (2004) Visualizing Research: A Guide to the Research Process in Art and Design. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing. [11] A video that I felt was very inspiring. To make the effort to go beyond what we have come to know, and be perhaps uncomfortable in the technology as it delivers us to what is unfamiliar. BEZAITIS, M. (2013) Maria Bezaitis: The surprising need for strangeness. [Online video]

I heard a rustling. At first faint but then it grew louder. The silence which had been was no more. I remained still. There were others coming to sit here where I was seated. Armed with smartphone cameras and social networks some were taking photos of themselves, backs to the sun, click, backs to the field, click, backs

April 2013. Available from - http://www.ted.com/talks/maria_bezaitis_the_surprising_ need_for_strangeness.html. [Accessed: 5th June 2013]


VERSION 4.1.3 Released September 2013

- -


+ - ++

- -

Screenshots off the Apple iPhone 4s where comments show the inclusion/ exclusion in terms of access or a better service made by the launch of the latest Instagram software update for the smartphone. Positive and nega-


tive feedback occurs with every new update and is part of our living in Disturbia.

Disturbia first became a term that I could use to sum up my notes from the field. Having no dictionary entry I felt it was a handy portmanteau that represented or summed up the ‘messiness’ of technology I observed as it collides with variations of itself creating things along the way it never intended to. I felt I needed some-

photograph using my phone, apply a filter to colour the image, alter its aesthetic, shoot video (its latest feature). In the app I am also required to set up a profile, and may connect it to Facebook if I wish, tell all my friends that I’m on Instagram and begin sharing my photos and making friends or ‘followers’ beyond the borders

While the update (Version 4.1.2) was only recently released for Instagram users there are those who updated and remain included within the app and those who have now been excluded because it did not successfully update or they prefer to remain with the older version and wish not to update. (Incidently the subsequent

thing to symbolise the behaviour of technology, in my case the smartphone device. While Ling focused on the use of the mobile phone and not the smartphone his research parallels what I felt and observed. His research in 2005 looked primarily at calls and texts before the transition to smartphones. He highlights, among other things, the dropped conversations between friends when a call or text comes in, which could now, in 2013, be updated to Facebook pushes, tweets, and a whole host of other communication services via smartphone applications that we are now connected to. He entitles this ‘The Mobile Telephone as a Barrier to Interaction in Focused Co-Present Situations’. But he extends his list of ‘co-present interactions and mobile communication’ which I gathered to be part of Disturbia. ‘The Mobile Phone as a ‘Stand-Alone’ Object in Co-Present Situations, The Mobile Phone as Physical Object, The Mobile Phone as a Repository of Personal History, The Mobile Telephone as a Secondary Engagement’[16] all came with a ‘messiness’ that we have experienced as changes brought on by its robust, always forward-moving nature and the way we navigate through it, adapting here and there to what we like or don’t like, what works and what doesn’t.

of Instagram. The app is free.

Version 4.1.3 was released on 13th September 2013 and a quick look at the comments shows again this division. While a solution as simple as shutting down the phone and starting it up again could fix some of these problems, what is interesting is the anger apparent in the comments from those no longer having access because something no longer works). This creates a shift on the Diffusion of Innovations curve not because of their personality but because the technology has placed them there. Where we sit in terms of a ‘technoDarwinism’ (Grupe 2013) occuring (what I define as current software quickly and randomly made extinct by unannounced and ongoing updates we select in order to be current) raises questions around inclusion and exclusion in terms of what we have access to and do not have access to. And the manner in which we operate, at least within the context of our smartphones, can be adjusted very quickly.

A recent (July/August 2013) update which was to ‘fix bugs’ produced comments on Apple’s App Store Reviews page[18] documenting the colourful variety of experiences within Disturbia. While my update worked effortlessly and I remained included and an early adopter on Roger’s graph there was a population for whom this was not so successful. For example: Sarah Coo, August 29, 2013 This has pretty much happened with every version but this one is the worst, it crashes when trying to take a picture through the app but it also crashes when you try and upload a picture from your photo gallery. SORT IT OUT!!!!! Asya Ostrovsky, August 24, 2013 Can’t even get onto the app, it just crashes and I tried to go on safari version but that crashed as well, I’m using the iPod 4 th Gen UPDATE NOW!

To add to the ‘goop’ of mobile technology[17] we have the mobile apps race. These are a daily to weekly reminder by software developers of the programs or ‘applications’ we have on our smartphone of ‘bug fixes and software improvements’ which promise to enhance the user’s experience. Outside of having the most upto-date phones many are becoming ‘programmed’ to having the most up-to-date version of their apps. While my focus is not to examine the psychology of this consumer demand, but acknowledge that within Disturbia there are many factors pushing and pulling at our behaviour. Having an up-to-date app suggests the latest technology. However, in terms of the apps race not every update happens smoothly and content can be lost or the app can simply stop working. To use myself as subject I used my Apple iPhone 4s smartphone to find online the Instagram app. This is the application that will connect me to the virtual community of Instagram. With this app I can

Olive Tree Plum, August 30, 2013 The update stinks it doesn’t even workfix this now plz!!! Pics dont load I hate u uv ruined everything Meanwhile, like me, those who made successful transitions comment: Izzbizz123, August 30 2013 Excellent app, handy for sharing fun photos with your friends and following your favourite celebrities. Crazy1476, August 29 2013 Its great fun u can get ya friends on it sending the most random but funny pics ever!! Great fun!!

Disturbia is not as negative as it may sound. It is instead to be read more as a goofy, awkward, gangly, messy place in the unknowing; the side effects of transition en route to discovery. The simple addition of an introduction of an update by a software application, in this example Instagram, has at least momentarily left some people feeling frustrated and left behind, while others continue forward with the technology. Friends who used to communicate through the app find themselves severed from their habits because of the update, serial posters of images momentarily lose the connection with their hard won audience of thousands because of the update, and a new audience, equipped with the latest technology and updates enter seemlessly into the Instagram ecosystem unsure why anyone would be with complaint about access. Just within this Instagram update, from Version 4.1.1 to Version 4.1.2 to Version 4.1.3, confusion, success, failure, frustration, inclusion and exclusion are created. Multiply this by the overlapping of exisiting, aging, new arrivals and announced technologies and Disturbia becomes more tangible as a concept.


Let us look at Instagram’s hashtagging service, an indexing form born and used in social networking sites where the author of the image connects words to pictures or vice versa by attaching ‘#’symbol in front of one word or more[27]. One would be hard pressed to find major popularity of a contemporary label that

Although the portmanteau ‘iphoneographer’ does exist and is used to classify people who photograph with Apple’s iPhone smartphone exclusively, this seems to be more about brand loyalty as there are also ‘Samsung photographers’ and ‘Android photographers’. Photographing with an Apple iPhone4S I joined Ins-

defines these new innovations in the photographic process and overrides the taxonomy of ‘photo(graphy)’ as my search for imagery on Instagram shows. Using a popular tag viewing system, http://web.stagram.com, which monitors the statistics of hashtags and photos from Instagram we can observe the following:

tagram and soon would label my imagery #iphoneonly. This was a way of staying true to the service of Instagram and its intended purpose - to be used as a mobile photography app which at the time of my study was offered exclusively to iPhone users. But creative hackers found ways of loading images shot with a 35mm Dslr (digital single lens reflex) onto Instagram so #iphoneonly became almost a flag of solidarity. But it was also my way of communicating ‘This image may look as if it was taken by a camera, but it was in fact taken with an iPhone’. This hashtag aimed to denote here three things: 1. that my loyalty to the brand Instagram is true, 2. that my documentation of the technical is part of the craft of photography and must be noted somewhere in the distribution of the image, 3. That something which rendered so well as an image was actually shot on a phone.

hashtag entered: number of image posts #photo: 24 million #photooftheday: 99 million #photographer: 3 million #photograph: 1.8 million #image: 800,000 #imageoftheday: 139,000 #imagemaker: 985 #networkedphoto: 0 #networkedphotography: 0 #mobileimaging: 6 #mobilephoto: 54,000 #mobilephotography: 1.2 million #mobile: 656,000 Test Date September 1, 2013



Looking back we were all endorsing the Apple brand, building a legion of iphoneographers shooting #iphoneonely iphonography. But in my opinion this is no different than in analogue film times when a photographer would say he shot medium format, large format, used Nikon, Canon or Polaroid. The difference now is that as we apply it through a social network via a hashtag the legion grows faster and larger. For a majority of those on Instagram photography is then best described as #photo produced by an #iger. Another quick inspection: #nikon: 3 million #canon: 2 million #polaroid: 695, 000 #iphoneographer: 610,000 #iger : 4.5 million (Iger is the abbreviated form of Instagrammer (singular) - something I discovered while I participated in ‘instagramming’ or the posting of imagery onto the Instagram site. An Instagrammer is one of a growing number of people using their smartphones to take pictures of the world around them and then uploading them for the world to see. (http:// tagdef.com/instagrammer)

#igers: 67 million (in its pluralistic form may denote one’s desire to ascribe to the growing community) Test Date September 1, 2013 http://web.stagram.com

In my practice this has become the routine experience over the years as I progress through the introduction of new hardware/ software and the ongoing updates that follow. Analogue (film) gets replaced with digital photography and the practice must adapt or suffer. Adjusting quickly to the new releases of technol-

er and Frey’s smartphone camera image making becomes ‘networked mobile imaging’. Stepping outside of their critical thinking and theoretical contributions we see a similar recalibration taking place as professional photographers tease out a new vernacular in the evolving photographic process. For instance, car photogra-

ogy means I can increase my sales, the more up to date I am the more courses my practice can offer over those who are not able to adapt as fast. If Photoshop[19] has a new version I have to update not so much to be in the know but ‘in the show’ because my clients are already there and it would look unprofessional if I am three versions behind.

pher Carl Lyttle claims that in the near future we will all be referred to as ‘image makers not photographers’[25]. However, if I add voice from my eighteen months as a fully embedded member in the Instagram community, this never entered our discourse. In my community of 1300 followers the vernacular remains decidedly photographic although Instagram, smartphone photography is current technology.

Here is some recent anecdotal evidence: One of our suppliers teaches children. She was tutoring two young siblings (eight and ten years old) from, shall we say, a better part of London, when she put her Apple iPhone 4S[20] on the table. At this point one of the children asked, ‘Mrs. X….. are you poor?’ to which our supplier said, ‘What makes you ask me that question?’ ‘Your phone’, said the child. ‘It’s old. Our father has the iPhone 5[21]. Can’t you afford the iPhone 5?’ The Apple iPhone 4s (released October 2011) currently remains on Apple’s website and is what was used to do all the research and launch the outcomes in this paper. It is one generation down from the iPhone 5 (which was launched in September 2012). It still supports the current software and all the apps. To a practice Disturbia is a place where, as Carr writes, ‘old technologies can lose economic and cultural force’. [22] There are two papers which comprehensively document the state of play of mobile and smartphone photography over the last twenty years. Villi’s doctorate piece examines ten years of mobile phone photography[23], from the research and development stage through to observations of it in commercial use, and Frey’s work, a very recent piece I discovered late in my research, documents the evolution of smartphone photography with Instagram as ‘a mainstream development of a new innovation of photographic practice[24]’. Both papers draw a line through the pixels of their time, recalibrating the photographic process (that we accept as a product taken with a stand-alone camera), and making an addendum to the taxonomy of ‘photography’. Villi calls the photograph produced on a mobile phone camera and then networked ‘networked photography’. An evolutionary stage lat-

Examples of comments from my @hashtagofman[26] feed which will be discussed later in Outcomes support this:

Wow!! Thank you Karl. I’m so inspired to be featured in such a collection of images. People will probably always be my favourite subject for photos. Karl, thank you very much for featuring my photo. Truly wonderful! Humble thank you Karl. Great edit of photos. Disturbia is not only in the relationships between networked technologies and, in the case of this paper, smartphones. There also exists the temptation by both professionals and academics to reconstitute traditional titles and definitions in light of these technological changes. However, examining the Instagram community in this moment, it is obvious that those traditional labels - photo, photographer and even Nikon and Canon - still strongly represent the manner in which we like to be defined or categorised. Any shift away from image making vernacular, as the big hashtag numbers show on the opposite page, and we drift away from the mean. This hold on tradition is something which later surfaces in my methodology as I try to understand that while it remains important to be accepted as a photographer or producer of fine photography, it remains in the area of financial compensation for the work provided where we seem to have easily welcomed new definition.


[16] LING, R. (2008) New Tech, New Ties: How Mobile Communication is Reshaping Social Cohesion. Cambridge Massachusetts: The MIT Press. [17] Mobile technology since 3G (third generation) came into the marketplace in 2002 allows us to receive on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones videos on demand, video calls and chats, mobile tv, broadband wireless data, high speed Internet access. 1n 1996 the highlights of the 2G (second generation) phones were multimedia messaging, web browsing and a higher data rate. AL-DEBEI, M. M. & AVISON, D. (2001) Business model requirements and challenges in the mobile telecommunications sector. Journal of Organisational Transformation and Social Change. 8 (2). p. 215-235. [18] The reviews do not seem to appear here as they do through the iPad or iPhone portals. iTUNES (2013) iTunes Preview: Instagram [Online] Available from: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/instagram/id389801252?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D2. [Accessed: 3rd August 2013] [19] Photoshop is an Adobe made software which allows for the post-production of digital photos. Its most basic features allow for the resizing, adjustment of colour, contrast and saturation of an image. ADOBE. (2013) New Photoshop CC. Look sharper. Work smarter. [Online] Available from: http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/photoshop.html?kw=semgeneric&sdid=IBFJS&skwcid=AL!3085!3!23657784650!e!!g!!photoshop&ef_id=Ucfz7AAABMuDMqq3:20130908164722:s. [Accessed: 3rd August 2013]. [20] Apple iPhone4S is a smartphone device that offers the latest full 3G service. APPLE. (2013) iPhone 4s Tech Specs. [Online] Available from: http://www.apple.com/lae/iphone/iphone-4s/specs.html. [Accessed:19th June 2013]. [21] APPLE. (2013) iPhone [Online] Available from: http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html. [Accessed:19th June 2013]. [22] CARR, N. (2010) The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember. London: Atlantic Books. [23] VILLI, M. (2010) Visual Mobile Communication: Camera Phone Photo Messages as Ritual, Communication and Mediated Presence. Jyvaskyla, Finland: wsBookwell. [24] FREY, A. (2012) Pics or it Didn’t. Instagram in Prosumer Capitalism and Reflexive Modernity. Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences. Lund, Sweden: Lund University. [25] LYTTLE, C. (2012) Photographer’s Spotlight: So you think CGI stands for Computer-Generated Imagery huh? Calumet Magazine. (December) p. 34- 37. [26] GRUPE, K. (2013) #thehashtagofman. [Online] Available from: http://thehashtagofman.com. [Accessed: 12th August 2013] [27] BEALE, K. et al. (2010) Twitter for Museums. Strategies and Tactics for Success, A Collection of Essays. Edinburgh: Museum Etc. [28] VILLI, M. (2010) Visual Mobile Communication: Camera Phone Photo Messages as Ritual, Communication and Mediated Presence. Jyvaskyla, Finland: wsBookwell. [29] BRAND, R. & ROCCHI, S. (2011) Rethinking value in a changing landscape - A Philips Design Paper [Online]. Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. Available from: http://www.design.philips.com/philips/shared/assets/design_assets/pdf/nvbD/april2011/paradigms.pdf. [Accessed: 20th February 2013] [30] BULL, S. (2012) ‘Digital Photography never looked so Analogue’: Retro Camera Apps, Nostalgia and the Hauntological Photograph. Photoworks (May - October). p. 24 − 25. [31] FREY, A. (2012) Pics or it Didn’t. Instagram in Prosumer Capitalism and Reflexive Modernity. Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences. Lund, Sweden: Lund University. [32] FOGG, BJ and ECKLES, D. (2007) Mobile Persuasion: 20 Perspectives on the Future of Behaviour Change. Palo Alto: Stanford Captology Media.

While testing of the cameraphone began in 1999 and they entered they market in 2001[28], we have changed in our performance, at the very least, in what now represents the content of our photography. As a practice and practitioner, through practice-led ethnography, I observed and experienced this span of the ana-

professional and amateur is blurred in the context of Instagram, and the creative class comes flowing down stream in the millions, with their images from the field, I would later have a hunch that brands are in an opportunistic position, using photography as a tool for paradigm shifting, enabling people to pursue creativity,

logue to digital to mobile camera phone and now smartphone cameras with integrated always-on social networks that we can immediately exhibit to and receive feedback from. This is made explicit on Instagram. And while there have been twelve years of capturing images through a camera on a phone that we carry with us all the time and since the explosion of Web 2.0 at the start of the millennium[29], we still appear to hold on to some aspect of the term ‘photograph’ whether produced in analogue, digital, mobile, smart phone or even Instagrams. The mobile-ing of photography, the networking of it and the reconstituting through postproduction has not, in my twenty years experience, caused it to take on another definition. At least not in the language of the amateur. In the field, when the image is up online for all to see, there still remains a strong pull to place it back in its box and label it ‘photography’, and that, so far is its taxonomy. While the class of shooter varies (Iger, Nikon, medium format) I believe when Derrida speaks of the hauntological[30],in terms of our image making, no matter how far we venture out in this practice we continue to have our eye on the established beacon which we trust and look to return to, even if just by giving it a hashtag.

achieve aspirations, produce meaningful contributions and develop the self through collective participation - all things which are embedded within my praxis.

Moving forward I would argue, from both from my practice and my participatory ethnography that, as long as the image maker has this hauntological perception of his work - even if it is as Frey describes, a ‘networked mobile image’[31], captured by screen shot, reproduced through an app, pushed through an Instagram filter and launched into the photo social networking ecosystem the goal is to create a photograph. From the thousands of images I have curated over the last eighteen months, this is as I interpret it. There are arguments in the research about neurological impulses and speed (which the smartphone and mobility feed directly into) as well as mobile persuasions[32] which I recorded in my methodology as part of my own monitoring, but while I acknowledge that literature I chose to spend my time in the field. Learning, for myself, what was approaching the practice. Knowing that people loved to take photographs on their smartphone through an app called Instagram was enough to begin the next level of my research; to be much more field based. And as the line between

I studied Photography (with Audio Visual technology) for 3 years at college. We were the last class to be taught `Wet` photography, that is the chemical process of film stock and developing, framework and printing. During my 3rd year we were given a brief course on digital photography and digital picture manipulation. I knew, along with discussions with lecturers and fellow students, that `wet` photography was dead. I left college after that to get a retail job. The skills and knowledge I did learn from study, practical work and experience in photography and camera control has meant nothing. My 4 year old nephew takes good pictures with his 8meg camera, finely balanced and exposed correctly. I personally see my 3 years and countless thousands in debt going to college as a waste of my time. George McInally, Port Glasgow A comment from a 2012 article on the BBC news blog on How the Digital Camera has Changed Us was selected for this revealing comment left by a reader.



I’m feeling lost. Is this question I ask too large or too layered, that I feel overwhelmed by the experience. And who cares anyways? People can photograph who and what they like and use it for whatever purpose they chose. The truth is I kinda care. Photography was easy for me at one time - you know - in the rules I mean. A portfolio was the passport to the agencies. The darkroom was passport control at the border between non-professional and professional. Books explained this foreign language. Getting up and going to a library, building something in the home into something mysterious called “the Darkroom”, buying scales, trays, thermometers, enlargers, drying racks, chemicals timers made photography such a physical effort. I remember teaching darkroom , the smell of the stop bath, the red light, the dark. The conversations and intimacy that were there, the topics which unfolded. Twelve strangers in a darkroom, in the pitch black heat, no air no circulation. Panic in some. People having to exit through the light “trap”. How loaded a word. We weren’t trapped, we were released. Developing film was an emotional and physical experience for some. The sounds of film being loaded on to film reels in the nothingness. The “snip” and the drop of a spool onto the floor. Karl, can you help? I can’t get this on the spool. Following sound across the space I meet with the adult students. The take up spool and scissors are blindly passed. Our hands touch. It’s romantic, strange, common, embarrassing, all at once. One of us apologises. Sorry. Film loaded onto spool and handed back to student. Sorry.

A journal entry into my notebook in 2012 reflecting on the research journey ahead. Opposite page photo by the author.


This methodology is about exploring at that point of convergence, where the terminus represents a snapshot of the now as it is in process. This by no means is a static thing. It is charged, full of energy and on the move. I look to create a framework to catch the sparks of opportunity. At first glance the Venn diagram becomes my means although the sujects are simply too large and complex. While I appreciate the ability to illustrate the relationship between technology and practice the overlap portrays the position of Disturbia. However, looking for something more scalable I sketched out a wish list. Some prerequisites included: It must be new technology, something still to the left of the early majority on Roger’s Diffusion of Innovations curve would be ideal. It should be exciting. It should be something I am very interested in. It should easily fit into the practice making it practice based research and could be a contribution to new knowledge (theory) and my practice (practical). It must be something I feel passionate about. Be something I could participate in. Be something which would position our business in a new direction. Be fun. Have long-term growth potential. Be something which I would engage the public in. Have roots in my knowledge as a photographer and storyteller. Shift years of thinking into a new paradigm. Give the practice options. And finally whatever came out from this convergence ‘it’ was not going to lead me to react by designing another ‘thing’ - at least not an object.


In the previous chapter I presented the landscape in which the methodology could draw from. I have the practice, which is brand aware, perceptive of our place in the scene. The Intellectual Property Office in the UK states a brand’s place in the market is ‘hard won and develops over time’[33] which, if one unpacks this fur-

teaching, smartphones, Web 2.0 and Instagram. During these developing technologies the practice was drawn in because as the technologies change and upgrade the business must adapt to remain in business. Our practice, having become more technology dependent over the path of X, makes us even more sensitive to the

the things we create. This final prerequisite came about through attending one of Duncan Fairfax’s always colourful and vocabulary rich lectures (perhaps he was paraphrasing Harraway[38]). What I remember went something like this:

ther, suggests that a business or practice NEEDS to reflect in order to understand how that which is being built (in our case, service) is performing. This awareness led to a rethink of why we had had a successful run of clients early on in the transition from analogue to digital photography. One reason could have been people were arriving not so much to learn photography but to explore a new technology. Photography just happened to be a by-product. Instagram, for all its celebrating of everything mobile photographic, ‘is about communicating a moment’[34], and photography just happened to be the way Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom decided to play it. Disturbia became a means to begin to look at what we do in another way; by giving it an identity different to ‘technology’ the ontological shift (how we, the practice, view photography) might then occur more easily. Looking back on the research example that begins to try to re-label photography and contrasting this with how smartphone imagery is in practice labeled today I certainly felt that while the technology is making way in leaps and bounds there is still a timelag in the community of digital users, in the sense of their word use. The smartphone photographer has not yet made the shift to a futurist labeling, whereby they would (or will) lose the connection to the past, i.e. by dropping the use of ‘photo’ and shifting to a more futuristic networked

many by-products, social, economic, cultural; Disturbia. Once the technology was learned by the consumer, and since smartphones had a low threshold for learning, our course numbers dropped. (During this research I made a proposal to one of the UAL short course departments for an iPhone/ Instagram course - Zen and the Art of iPhonography[36] - and the class did not run due to lack of numbers. Contrast this to when I introduced a Beginners Digital Photography class in 2004. Here fifteen seats sold requiring another class to be added which also sold out. We stretched the class to twenty students each and this would continue for three years). Levelling off at about 100 students at peak season (September 2011) we no longer catered to the 400 students per week we had during the crowning point of 2008/9. Our photographic assignments and library image sales also plummeted due to the market forces which are deeply embedded in many things digital (and not applicable for this research), but include heavy competition from online private sales, cannibalisation within the agencies due to over saturated topic areas, Creative Commons licensing[37] and online hack and grab. Our net income from these sales is one-fifteenth of what was received in 2008/ 09. Regarding photography as photography is no longer profitable.

‘As designers we need to be fundamentally aware of what we are putting out there into the world because while we may think it will do one thing there is a whole host of other things it may do that we are not even aware of. As designers it’s our responsibility to take ownership of that’.

or digital-based vernacular, as Frey suggests. In the Instagram sample of 130 million active users[35] there is a strong case that the iphoneograph remains #photo. Perhaps the hashtag is the key - that the photo image of today is not in general defined as a smartphone image nor as Frey calls it ‘networked mobile imagery’ however, the addition of the hashtag in front of ‘photo’ leading to ‘#photo’, is in itself a sign of modernization and a shift to a future vernacular, in this case by adding symbols to hauntological words.

We are at a point in the research where a convergence is happening - the technology has, over time, caught up with the practice, replacing it in some ways, outdating it in others and from time to time offering more convenience. The practice still holds its skill in being an enabler, filling the gaps technology cannot and providing a different set of knowledge platforms. Therefore as part of the methodology a Venn diagram is used to illustrate the convergence, with technology in the left circle and the practice on the right. At the crossover or nexus Disturbia occurs. This gives me a framework or loci from which to begin the research.

This proved to be an early port of call on the journey of my research, as I searched for something with more grip, and so I continued building practice and observing. Our practice travels along an X-axis where X defines the recent technology. Here we move from analogue to digital, mobile picture messaging to online photo social networking groups and

Since Disturbia was about us shifting, losing, chasing, adapting to terrain formed by technology, I wanted instead to sit and reflect. Whatever the outcome’s ‘creating’ as my methodology I hoped that its highlight would be that through my selected processes I understood more about the actions in users we create through

I never thought of design behaving like that before and now it seems this message follows me. I now find myself looking at how the things we possess and use are networked within us and at best provide a useful functionality and at worst become a sort of polemic. It would be here that I would develop a learning model to help me frame my learning journey. I would map out the relationship between technology, practice and Disturbia and get a sense of how where I was in my journey.


Designing a learning model: Research sketches





The beginning of the practice placed just at the end of the film camera era. The x-axis plotting significant moments along my journey as a professional photographer and workshop leader. The switch by the consumer from analogue (film) photography to digital, the introduction of web based photo social networking sites like www.flickr.com, smartphone technology replacing the mobile phone and the most recent significant contribution to the advancement of technology with regards to (Practice) praxis is the launch of Instagram in October 2010.

Established in the literature review and from extensive refelecting as to what Gray and Malin’s call a ‘reflective practitioner’ I introduced Disturbia. Disturbia encapsulates and represents the enormity of technology as it pertains to Practice. It also represents the unknown and the yet to be known. During the analogue ‘period’ Disturbia was very distant from practice.



Mapping out the pull and draw towards convergence.

It is here at this point that I become aware that because of this convergence the opportunity arises for extensive research.





My learning model shows that as technology increases, or becomes more embedded in society, (smartphone cameras are something more common to find than analogue cameras) the additonal layers of functionality, the mulitple layers for communication, portals for exhibition of work, challenges to copyright, changes to fee structures, new areas for research and development Practice (praxis) and Disturbia are drawn towards each other.

Complete convergence made between Technology, Practice and Disturbia.





From the map, at the point of convergence Technology overlaps with Practice and at the nexus of this Venn diagram is Disturbia.

At this stage in the research I come to appreciate that this is my working model. A two set Venn diagram. I pursue Instagram as my entry point into very recent technology, taking part in particpatory ethnography and auto-ethnography because it fits well into the practice and my postion - as professional photographer and educator, serving clients in business, government and private sectors with photographic, digital and educational service I begin a dialogue around exploring Instagram.




Early Adopters

Early Majority

Late Majority


With the scene set it was only a matter of looking right in front of me to see that a more specific triangulation to my Venn diagram existed. But first I would settle myself into a community which was growing at a phenomenal rate. The energy was lively, it was very ‘hip’ and many people online and in the classes I lectured at

When I looked at samples of research by Villi which did involve questionnaires, he was exploring research carried out by consultancies and research teams. Tackling such a profoundly large subject such as smartphone use and having the resources to conduct more in-depth and diverse cross sections are slightly

were talking about it. Here I would explore for a bit, take some notes and see if this was the direction I would go to explore the relationship between technology and practice. My tour would become a long term participatory ethnography of both the virtual and real worlds. Welcome to Instagram.

enviable. Frey’s research for instance is limited to only 25 people over a week which in the Instagram ecosystem hardly registers. Communities form within communities and you can find yourself surrounded by like-minded users where the photography/ portfolio represents the car you drive or the clothes you wear — there is a lot of consumerism-ing that goes on here. Seeing this early on influenced my decision to move away from what I felt was a ‘coldness’ through the questionnaires. Using an interpretivism research paradigm[7], the warmth found in a conversation or being embedded in a community seemed more likely to generate richer views if I was to look at smaller numbers as my sample and the choice to be in an active role allowed the paradigm to align itself well with my practice. Where my research would differ from Frey is that I would settle into the community for longer than a week and that I would use Instagram to test multiple angles of approach and use. It would be a year and a half later in my research where I would develop and distribute a questionnaire which seemed to be received with a bit of skeptisism by the recipient. This would be part of my Lexus Instagram study, which will be referred to later.

While learning the technology of using the smartphone camera and the Instagram app, which took all of ten minutes, I overlooked a key audience and perhaps rich counterargument or counterbalance to my research direction. There is a significant sample who perhaps find the use of the smartphone technology expensive, juvenile, unprofessional, complicated, redundant, gimmicky, counterproductive, a waste of time, invasive, dangerous, antisocial, etc. The demographic here could be wide. While these may be the laggards they may also be a part of the population who have simply made the choice to opt out. Another sample are those who own a smartphone but do not participate in photosocial networking of any kind or choose something other than Instagram for their photo communications. Again this was an angle which could have provided a fruitful counterbalance to my research. Here the reasons could be anything from not liking the terms and conditions of the app to not liking the people who ‘hang out there’, perhaps being part of a mainstream trend. Perhaps they are outliers having first discovered Instagram but left to find other avenues of smartphone photography expression like eyeEm or flickr for mobile. There are those who may have tired of the ‘work’ in building an audience and now post to blog and tweet their photos through other social streams. There are of course those who are not part of Instagram due to personal preferences, security issues, a desire to remain off or beneath the Internet ‘radar’, or unhappy that Instagram is now owned by Facebook. A questionnaire to ‘catch’ such users habits and behaviour with regards to their smartphone photography may have worked well here.


[33] INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE. (2013) What is a brand? [Online] 28th May

[37] CREATIVE COMMONS [2013] Case Studies: Flickr. [Online] 25th July 2013.

2013. Available from: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm/t-about/t-whatis/t-brands.htm.

Available from: http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Case_Studies/Flickr [Accessed: 3

[Accessed: 20th August 2013]

June 2013]

[34] TERDIMAN, D. (2013) Instagram’s Systrom: We’re ‘not a photography company’.

[38] HAYLES, N. K. (2006) Unfinished Work:From Cyborg to Cognisphere:Theory, Culture

[Online] Available from: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57586998-93/instagrams-

and Society. London: Sage.


[39] COLLINS, H. (2010) Creative Research: The Theory and Practice of Research for the

photography-company. [Accessed: 5th June 2013]

Creative Industries. Lausanne: AVA Publishing SA.

[35] INSTAGRAM. (2013) Instagram Stats. [Online] Available from: http://instagram.com/ press/#. [Accessed: 30th May 2013].

Opposite page: Author’s custom sketch of Everett Roger’s Diffusion of Innovation curve

[36] .DOCSTOC. (2013) Central Saint Martins College of Arts_Design Short. 5/6. [Online]

as it relates to Instagram users.

13th April 2013. Available from: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/152414992/CENTRALSAINT-MARTINS-COLLEGE-OF-ARTS-_-DESIGN-SHORT. [ Accessed:2nd August 2013] 




On December 10, 2011 I began my immersion in Instagram with its roots in practice-led, participatory ethnographic research. From this date I would use the smartphone to photograph, post produce, post, hashtag, share, converse, engage, curate, compete, meet, blog, hold workshops, write, visit, be interviewed,

but also reflect on myself and in this way it became an autoethonography. I began to compare my professional photography against those who classified themselves as only amateur. I would get lost in the tease of fame for a while (seeing some amateur Instagrammers with followers amounting to the population of

my smartphone to check my Instagram performance. I would fall asleep at night having checked my Instagram performance. Frey’s paper on the smartphone study of twenty-five Instagrammers[40] provides a selection of journal entries which document what I have been saying here. For a moment during this living in the village I

be published, win contests, all due to the choice to participate in this app’s community. If Instagram, as it was hyped, was the agent for a massive amount of photography produced by amateurs with smartphones, I wanted to stumble across discoveries for myself. If I ‘ran into something’ I could use my professional knowledge and experience of working in the photography industry. Not being a big Twittter or Facebook user, to connect with people you don’t know by the liking of one’s photograph or photography portfolio on Instagram intrigued me. I figured that the image was a conversational icebreaker and if I was agile could slot in images which would draw conversation in the direction I wanted. And if I asked around enough maybe I could find people within the Instagram community who would share things which seemed contrary or different to popular opinion or the status quo. Instagram and Instagrammers checked a number of boxes on my prerequisites list so I had an aspect of technology defined. The technology field became everything Instagram and practice stayed as my practice while Disturbia was present in the overlap of my Venn diagram. But as I settled in and started to build relationships, looking for how the practice could ally with this thing called Instagram there were things happening that caught my attention.

some cities), try to inflate my followers by socially ‘unacceptable’ ways according to some Instagrammers in order to increase my social currency (such as ‘meeting’ in a virtual group at an appointed time and crowd-‘liking’ the rest of the group members’ photos in the effort to build one’s own and other’s publicity). I would go through negative emotions like disappointment and frustration as I measured my work against others and could not figure out why another was rich in followers - hundreds of thousands - and I was just in the 100’s. My discourse analysis would send me into photographers’ feeds, spending sometimes hours going deep into their collections, seeing when they had started, comparing their online success with mine and arrive at no conclusive answer. I would not be like some, writing directly and in public to the successful Instagrammers, pining for the answer to the question ‘how do you get so many followers?’ I would be above that I thought, but underneath I too wanted to know the answer. Coming in as a professional photographer I thought I had an edge - but it didn’t seem to have value in IG. I would read blogs which provided a hint towards the answer in titles like ‘How to get liked on Instagram’ and ‘How to get a lot of followers on Instagram’. Like all social marketing professionals they build their success with these eye-catching, soul-grabbing titles as a kind of

became an addict. Because of this I feel I unsubscribed myself from any bias that the practice could have offered. I welcomed Instagram into my life and it filled a large amount of my downtime if not interrupting much of my precious time. Awarded for my creativity, and with my images producing pulses on my phone with symbolic ‘hearts’ and ‘likes’ (screen graphics which would light up or buzz in as my virtual audience acknowledged my work) I felt unique. As a professional it was very rare you received so much consistent accolade unless perhaps you were famous. As long as I fed an image into the system I would get something back. And that continuous loop relationship, as I discovered, became addictive.

I signed up, uploaded a selection of images and began to engage with the community. It would be some time before a lot of what I mentioned above would take place. Being active is key to some success on Instagram. Placing a couple of photographs and sitting back is like starting construction on a house. A couple of photos meant the material had arrived and there was a builder on site. It would be over a year before my Instagram experience would be something I felt I could move into. During this time my decision was to simply observe the Instagram and smartphone photographer relationship, slowly build my feed, test filters and develop an eye for patterns - a pictorial discourse analysis. Instagram would in time become the machinery I would feed many of my future research through. If this was a village, as an ethnographer I had come to live in Instagram for over eightytwo weeks. I would become part of the community: watch others

virtual snake oil salesman. These emotional highs and lows were exacerbated by my smartphone buzzing and belling as people liked my images or made a comment. I found myself checking even when something didn’t happen. I found myself frustrated when I had no Wifi signal. I found myself eager to get out of a meeting to see how a picture performed in terms of comments and likes. I began looking for things that would look good for my phone, which meant it would look good on Instagram so my world view for a while became Instagrammed. I would stop in the flow of a walk, interrupt my partner mid-sentence by stopping to take a picture, stop the car to photograph something I saw, not because it looked good or made a good picture, or was worth the memory but because it would be the conduit between me and the evolving me online. The next picture I put up would set my phone off with all the persuasive technology that was built into getting my attention. I’d wake up in the morning and the first thing I’d do was reach for

[40] FREY, A. (2012) Pics or it Didn’t. Instagram in Prosumer Capitalism and Reflexive Modernity. Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences. Lund, Sweden: Lund University.

Opposite page: Research sketches by the author setting out a further framework as technology becomes more defined by his choice to pursue research within the Instagram. The choice to focus effforts on Instagram were due to the newness of the technology. Only a year since its launch the author had a hunch it was going to be the next big thing.

Opposite page photos: A selection of photos taken by the author and exhibited under his Instagram name @stuffcarlsees where over the year and a half he amassed a portfolio of 1026 images.



Having gone through that phase, I had let my methodology run away on me. Without my knowing, and only on later reflection where I reached this discovery, I had become a full card carrying member of Disturbia.

comments, likes, follows, and followers - all a product of a smartphone. If for a moment I think what if there was no such device I find it hard to get past that thought. With the entry of the technology it gave me something but it also took something away. I know convenience now. I know what it means to find (even for a

in demand the tickets were by the people. The uniqueness of my image in the perfect creative storm placed me in-between the world’s journalists.

In the ethnography and auto-ethnography it began to feel as if methods were in full swing. The relationships were building and I even began to win contests, offer feedback, curate and promote other photographers’ work to other photographers. I would continue to photograph, of course, paying close attention to how in this process I had come to appreciate the functionality of the smartphone and its camera. Now months into my research I continued to get excited after loading images. We developed a friendly relationship, my little phone and me. I loved how I was rewarded with each positive entry received; to see my mobile light up with its bells and hums and buzzes as an image was successful. I became an Instagram community member, no longer an outsider and many knew I was doing research on Instagram and its affect on us as photographers. I found out people had been following me for ages, and I didn’t know how to take that. Do I say thank you or do I ask why?

moment) self actualisation through a brand by seizing a moment of inspiration, photograph it, publish it and have it transformed into a globally recognised product (The Guardian). I know how to be addicted to something, have it always sit in my hand or change the way I see the world in order to feed pictures into it that give me the buzz I want. I know that my whole life changed as this project, this research converged on my practice. So even without the technology glowing in its ‘on-ness’ in my hand or shirt pocket, it is there in the background someplace. Like the sky at night filled with light pollution smothering the view of the stars but giving us the excitement of the street, I feel a similar trade here. The on-ness is there, I can feel it and I know I have to check it soon. In this way Disturbia is here in me. I feel it. It’s not a good thing or a bad thing its just ‘a’ thing. For me ethnography and self-reflection were becoming more and more about the knowing how and it was safe. It was time to try to know the what. It was time to settle in and do some field studies.

Disturbia. As a professional, I witnessed the power of this technology, the influence of this app and the relationship between technology (the smartphone photographer) and Instagram. Without a portfolio, without any contacts, without The Guardian knowing anything about my professional status, I was ‘published’ under The Guardian label. My two set Venn diagram became a three set and I had my triangulation. Here I would be able to settle in and refine some detail and explore Instagram in a way which was unique and where new knowledge could be established. My research would look at how brands, technology (the amateur photographer equipped with the smartphone camera), and Instagram were being friendly and what in this friendship was developing. To get to a brand became the next challenge but it was not as difficult as I thought.

I was no longer interested in boosting my profile through juvenile antics whereby one would load a picture and a group of a hundred or so Instagrammers would like it at once - boosting the likes to time relationship and increasing one’s chances of getting to the Explore page. The Explore page is the trophy page, a page dedicated to inspirational Instagram imagery, a fluid page where images drop in and drop out with each touch of the page recycle button. Getting onto the Explore page increases your Follower base but this does not mean people like your photography. I also no longer participated in the bulk hash tagging of an image in order to get it out to as many audiences as possible to build audience. My residency on IG became less addicted. I got lazy in my note taking realising that the discourse analysis was there on the phone, in the data of the micro-conversations I had beneath the pictures in the feed. Little water cooler moments between @he and @she. I was becoming complacent, maybe even a bit linear in my thought, having travelled from A to B and awaiting C just as the feed scrolls on Instagram up and down. There is a record there of course. @stuffcarlsees is where it is all kept, a library of a year and more on Instagram consisting of photographs and

It was at this point that the penny dropped - I was in the center of

[41] GRUPE. K. (2012) olympicswithouttickets. [Online] August 13, 2012. Available from: http://karlgrupe.com/blog/?p=1334. [Accessed: 18th June 2013]

Disciplining my passion was certainly needed. It came during the London 2012 Olympics, when I first used Instagram as a platform to communicate as a citizen journalist. Eight months into my practice based research, the international media was reporting on London’s empty seat scandal. While attending a densely populated Hyde Park for the Men’s Triathlon what I observed created the perfect creative storm and a hinge point in my methodology. In the combination of attending an event, the background of the main story, having a flash of inspiration and my smartphone to capture and IG to publish, I was able to go from ‘anyone with a smartphone’ to a content provider for The Guardian newspaper/ blog. I created a hashtag project, a collection of images forming a gallery under a hashtag. In response to the seat fiasco that the press was interested in I titled my hashtag project #olympicswithouttickets[41] and set about capturing herds of people peering through pockets of visibility between trees, scrubs and plants to see anything they could of the triathlon. The hashtag became an instant hit on my IG feed and when I tweeted it to The Guardian it was placed on their dedicated Olympic coverage page. This wasn’t a catastrophe I was reporting. It was a commentary on how

Opposite page: Research sketches by the author setting out a further framework as brand is introduced into the scene through a series of events that lead to the publishing of an Instagram image. This serendipitous event changes the course of the research and is a turning point where the author claims ‘the research bloomed’.

Opposite page photo: The image that was published by The Guardian and a sample of comments which fed into the author’s Instagram comment box.



With a triangulation in place due to the unexpected but much appreciated addition of brands through the serendipitous events at Hyde Park I suddenly found a new vigour for exploring additional methods and processes. I took this as a chance to go on a fishing expedition, playing with multiple methods in the hope of reaching out beyond the immediate residency I took up in my Instagram ‘local’. The triangulation made me spot a set of relationships I could follow and then contrast against each other. They were (‘IG’ denotes ‘Instagram’): a. smartphone photographer and brand. Here both smartphone photographer and brand operate outside of IG. b. brand and IG. Here the brand is linked to IG. It (the brand) has residency and therefore access to IG’s community including smartphone photographers. c. IG and smartphone photographer. Here the smartphone photographer is linked to IG. He has residency and therefore access to IG’s community including brands. Following the process I would interpret the results giving it a ‘Disturbia Index’ (‘0’ being nothing for the practice to worry about and ‘9’ being that the circumstances presented had the potential to create a paradigm shift in photography). These scores were based on the ease of access or permission to shoot, the potential circulation audience and viral-ability, and of course fun factor. I also weighed my experiences against my professional knowledge. I would then be able to ascertain if the smartphone photography/ Instagram/ brand relationship was changing, how this was affecting the practice. I would have the opportunity to present some of these findings to my classes, in conversations and in the lectures - mining for input and deeper discourse. I would speak to my colleagues, drop hints of my research and direction to clients old and new as a litmus test; were brands talking about this as a new resource? Was this in demand? For some smartphone technology was the new internet frontier, for others it was just more dead tech. Keep in mind that while smartphones have been around since 2007 Instagram at the time of the research was only two years old - therefore being very newly established technology.



EQUIPMENT All tests (including the following chapter entitled Outcomes) were carried out using the Apple iPhone 4s 2010 model, Apple iPad2 2011 model and Apple iMac 2009 and 2012 models. Mobile apps : Instagram for mobile photosocial networking and image sharing. Afterlight and Snapseed were used for post production touch ups and exposure and colour corrections. PicFrame for custom framing of imagery and multiple imagery on one frame. PhotoSync to transfer images from iPhone to iPad for larger previews. Unless otherwise stated all images remained within the Instagram ecosystem or were blogged at www. thehashtagofman.com or www.karlgrupe.com/blog. Desktop software: Data collection was manually ‘bean counted’ and entered into OmniOutliner on both app version and desktop versions. YouTube video of #LexusInstaFilm was taped using LeawoYoutubeDownloader and Adobe Premiere Pro CC for video analysis. All software versions were up to date at execution of tests.


Respecting both subject’s request to remain anonymous and in order to not place the companies in a negative light due to the results I wish to not reveal their names. While conducting photography workshops in different areas of London and on seperate occasions I approached two food and bevarage businesses with kiosks on the street. Company A makes cakes and sells them in a very trendy


area of London and Company B sells coffee from a hipster style coffee van. Isolating the technology/smartphone photographer and brand relationship I approached each company not as an Instagrammer but as a photographer with a smartphone. I explained I was researching the use of smartphones with brands and how they may replace professional photography services in the future. Both businesses were already with Instagram so I made it clear that I would provide professional level photography for use other than IG. There was interest, cards were exchanged but nothing developed. I followed up with Company A in an email but did not receive a reply.

CASE No. 1 : TYPE 1

Smartphone photographer and brand not connected and operating outside of Instagram.

street interviews photography possible

It seems from these trials that if there is no additional scope, no audience that comes through the platform of social marketing that to shoot a service or brand simply with a smartphone seems not worth the vendor’s interest.



Observations: SME’s, especially independents like these two examples, are simply very busy with many aspects of their trade that making time for photography may seem like another task. As a practitioner myself I understand it can be simply that one is running through an endlist list of daily, weekly and monthly things to do. Although I offered photography services it may have been simply wrong timing. Two businesses are hardly enough to make a judgement on but in terms of my using this as a research measuring process I needed to expand the search. Through placing an ad in a paper, contacting more businesses, or continue in this process but with a substantial amount of walk-ups or cold calls I would begin to shape a more cohesive body of research. My attempt to measure the number of positive replies responding to the offer to photograph imagery was a failure by simply not applying enough of a constant push. However by not offering Instagram, or cutting the conversation short of marketing the SME in front of an Instagram audience, I do wonder how that may have had an affect on the decision. This making contact was strictly about approaching brands without the Instagram connection so I have nothing to compare it to. My conclusions on this very limited study are represented by a remaining question - does the smartphone produce enough of a worry to the future of my practice? Without the networking of imagery that the smartphone can do immediately, it may be just about sizing up one camera against another.



Smartphone photographer and brand not connected and operating outside of Instagram.


smartphone photography blogging email enquiry

Due to the powerful opportunity of the speculative shoot and anyone with a good eye and an opportunistic edge to enter the market, smartphone photographers can easily slip into the marketplace.



In a similar fashion to the #olympicswithouttickets spark of creativity, having attended a major gallery that was closing its show I was inspired to shoot a photographic project due to the circumstances of the moment. Because I am affiliated through a work contact I had gained access to the take down of a show. I was recording the space ‘in-between’ shows where I observe how art transforms its function as it moves from its postion ‘on view’ to its position as packaged, its value temporarily hidden beneath the wrapping (see photos on left and right pages). In this case I placed the images not on Instagram but on my blog www.karlgrupe.com/blog. All sixteen images were shot with my Apple iPhone 4s, post-produced by mobile app software Afterlight and then using the phone sent the images back to my desktop where I worked on layout and uploaded. I emailed my contact at the gallery who forwarded the email link to the head of marketing at the gallery. She returned with an email saying they were impressed with the images and would like to use them on the website and blog but she could not pay for the use. Being a gallery it surprised me that they wanted to use my artwork but not compensate me in any manner other than a photo credit. Observations: Like #olympicswithouttickets this was work that had value. It would appear on a website and blog. I did not mention that it was taken with a smartphone camera so this did not enter into the equation regarding payment. What is interesting is that the imagery did not pass through a questioning of how it was taken. The images were accepted at face value: they were neither smartphone images nor were they 35mm Dslr images and I was not an amateur with a smartphone camera nor a professional with a high spec Dslr. I was a ‘guy with images’. This is highly significant because for those who shoot on spec, especially those creating images for magazines or newspapers, the mention of how you shot it will not matter unless the file size or kind is important. A future test here would be to shoot a full story with a smartphone and market it to a magazine and see the result. While this has been done by major broadsheets to the extent that entire photodepartments have been made redundant (the Chicago Sun-Times[42] very recent decision to fire their Pulitzer prize winning photo department and left the future of their newspaper’s photography in the hands of their journalists with an iPhone) these are planned moves by organisations. Luckily, for my practice, the art of photography and storytelling through image is not in the mind of everyone with a smartphone, yet. And as long as there remains the step of making contact with photo editors or buyers by the photographer the practice remains marginally safe. [42]CHICAGO TRIBUNE (2013) Chicago Sun-Times lays off all photographers. [Online] Available from: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-31/business/ct-biz-0531-sun-times-photographer-layoffs-20130531_1_sun-times-media-group-chicago-sun-times-timothy-knight. [ Accessed 13th June 2013]


CASE No. 1 : TYPE 2 RELATIONSHIP IG and the Smartphone photographer. The Smartphone photographer is linked to IG. He has residence and access to IG’s community including brands.


ethnography participation action research data collection mapping

See italisised note across page on Disturbia Index.



Christmas 2012 I was involved in a project entitled Unwrapping Christmas as part of the Masters Critical Practice at Goldsmiths and under the supervision of Terry Rosenberg. The brief was to measure how we observed Christmas and contrast that with how it may be observed by others. The photography on Instagram was a perfect window to make this phenomenological study and

I can see the ‘eye’ of the photographer - how they form the world and make a judgement on their skill. Like a sun setting below the horizon I can visually see a transformation of the Christmas imagery falling off, going below the centre of the page as we approach evening, a new moon rising with images nothing to do with Christmas. I can see our attention span drop, memory fade as the

funnelled very well into my methodology measuring Disturbia through the triangularity of IG, the smartphone photographer, and the brand (I would use Christmas to loosely mean brand, although it may be closer to brand than I would like to admit). The study ran from 1 pm Christmas Day to Midnight and every hour I would visit Instagram’s Explore page, take a screen shot and make a photo analysis. I chose this method of data collection and photo-analysis in order to map out a trend. At the time I didn’t know what the trend would be but I presumed it to have roots in Christmas being December 25th. This was a chance to get a ‘global’ look at the Instagram photographer. The universal day gave a significant registration, something to measure expectation against result by - or seen another way how powerful Disturbia was. In this case Disturbia could be represented by the promoting of one kind of image over another. If Santa was popular then where did Santa appear in the popular Explore page, how long was it nested in the trend and how dense was the picture supply of Santa and when did it cool off? Was this due to time zones in different countries therefore erasing one favoured meme for another? Did someone more popular - a celebrity - place something up and others were ‘bonding’ through the match of like imagery? Disturbia could also be represented by the lack of Christmas references and perhaps a trend was developing there. I would not know until I went through the process of screenshots, digital bean counting and charting every hour.

day passes.

The bean counting, while a crude and simplistic data sketch, suggests that I may have been on the right track but simply using the wrong tool - me. Outmuscled by the power of big data there is a wealth of imagery that exists on the Explore page, with material flowing in and out of my viewing frame. This always on/ always changing page means that without a digital net one cannot see what lies beneath. With Instagram reporting 10 million images on Thanksgiving 2012[43] my 135 images appear a limp statistic. Building a code made to catch data pertaining to geography, hashtags, time of day would make for a far more extensive and data rich survey. Plotting these findings onto an information graphic would further illustrate patterns evolving for things I didn’t know.  The remnants of the analogue in me still believe there is value in these 135 images. I got to know the photos rather than have them as a statistics of big data. I get a birds eye view of the landscape they participate in, the images they rest beside, the contrast of what’s important in the context of this holiday.

While I may be outmuscled by data, there is still room for the sensitivity and skill of photo analysis.

Disturbia factor +5. A surprising process where the comparison of differences made me value remaining analogue skills. It cautioned me that at this point of convergence, where Disturbia has met practice, to remember the gifts from the past. As a digital immigrant (a person born before or outside of the digital era, and therefore not as digitally wired as today’s youth) this is what I offer. Until the digital immigrants pass below the horizon line there are still skills that are valuable.

[43] INSTAGRAM. (2012) Thanksgiving Day on Instagram. [Online] 23rd November 2012. Available from: http://blog.instagram.com/post/36359968655/thanksgiving-day-on-instagram. [Accessed: 23rd December 2012]. Opposite page: Infographic of Unwrapping Christmas project created by the author.



Brand and IG. The brand is linked to IG. The brand has residency and therefore access to IG’s community including smartphone photographers.


collaboration ethnoigraphy participation action research micro-blogging

See italisised note across page on Disturbia Index.



Through my ethnographic and participatory engagements on IG over the year I formed friendships with leaders of groups who had connections to several high profile events. This is not as exclusive as it sounds. IGers ‘put the city of your choice here’ is a kind of brother- and sisterhood for IGers globally. Organiser have a lot of interesting networks and through IGers London I could attend anything from backstage photography ops at West End shows to Lon-

One interesting note to make is while at the Siemens event I attended a media announcement. Television crews, press photographers, journalists and marketing crews filled the room. I sat on my chair with my press release pack in one hand, my smartphone in the other. A young journalist sat beside me with a recorder in his hand and his press pack. He was from a German newspaper. As I was taking photos through my smartphone at some point he looked at

don Fashion Week access to after party events at the Olympics. All are usually free and require no portfolio. One shows up, meets a bunch of Instagrammers, settles in to what is on offer and photographs to a selected hashtag which usually promotes the brand. This is social photography for social networks produced in a very social way.

me and asked, “Who are you working for?”, to which I replied “Instagram”. He simply remarked, “Cool”. With no portfolio review, no bidding for the job, no contractual talks and pressure, I was enjoying my passion and people were happy to see me there both in person and online.

Obeservations: I attended two events in the year - an Olympic party at Puma Yard in Brick Lane, a pop up shop with an exclusive outdoor urban gym and chill zone available to VIP guests and the grand opening gala evening at Siemans flagship headquarters in Docklands. For the brand it is all about creating a crowdsourcing channel, multiple smartphones photographing and posting to multiple followers building a social currency. For Instagrammers its access to a fabulous event. The relationship is symbiotic and really quite incredible. There is a complete formality that welcomes the Instagrammer to the event. Your coat is taken, press packs given, press or VIP passes already prepared. Access is granted virtually anywhere press can go. If there is a large group of IGer’s you can take one photo or hundreds. There is no pressure to perform like a hired photographer. The social factor is motivating as it occurs both in person and on Instagram because one sees immediately what the other is posting. Your smartphone buzzes with positive feedback from the rest of your followers as they ask emphatically, “Where are you?” or comment “That’s so cool!”. As a professional photographer who has covered many a social assignment the freedom, pleasure and welcome one gets from these events is refreshing. I have never felt more welcome. The odd thing is that Instagrammers don’t show up to take it so seriously. There is an element of fun and looseness and this makes for a very engaging event. If anyone took it seriously I did. It was a chance to realise I would not have had access let alone even known about the events had I not been on IG. I was providing a service for major labels and was not getting financially compensated for it. Of course I could have shot one bad photo, tagged it and then enjoyed the rest of the evening but like a Wiki site polices its own, there is a code of conduct that seems to exist beneath the surface here. But the reason I was taking this so seriously is because this was a major Disturbia moment, things were really shifting and I liked it. I didn’t know what I was going to do as a practice should this become more of the norm, companies inviting Instagrammers and paying them with cocktails and sandwiches and a VIP pass instead of contracting a social photographer.

Disturbia factor +9 MAX This could be the future. At both events there were over ten IG people very happily covering. This was not a change in photography, the images were still images, and being used for marketing purposes. It was a change in the practices of and the currency of photography. Having ten to twenty traditional photographers to cover an event of either of these magnitudes would be unheard of. There simply would be no budget. I considered if there is scope to test this as a business model with the USP being that the client removes the idea that they arehiring a photographer but rather are investing in a visual network through the collection of Instagrammers. If 10 photographers each have 1000 followers the client is immediately embedding their brand into a 10000 follower audience. Followers have currency. They may be just as important as the image maker. Opposite page left: Compilation of images shot for Puma by the author. Opposite page center: Photo of media scrum at Siemens grand opening. Opposite page right: Compilation of images shot for Siemens by the author.



Brand and IG. The brand is linked to IG. The brand has residency therefore access to IG’s community including smartphone photographers.


collaboration ethnography participation action research micro-blogging

See italisised note across page on Disturbia Index.



I heard about the following ad campaign through my network of friends made on Instagram. Since it occurred in Anaheim California, I did not participate in the event as such. The research was made through induction. A very latecomer to the research was a recent advertisement produced for the luxury car brand Lexus. Entitled ‘#LexusInstaFilm’[44] it featured over 200 Instagrammers shooting the 2014 Lexus IS F Sport. They chose “points of view” from which they would shoot a single still from. The imagery was then processed in the photographer’s chosen style, loaded to the production crew’s onsite digital lab where they built a stop animation feature out of 359 images. The production of the event was documented by video and the #lexusinstafilm headlined the production video showing Instagrammers photographing with smartphones amongst video production crew - professionals merging with non-professionals into a compilation video to advertise a car. The video commercial appears on YouTube. Having read about another campaign where an Instagrammer was chosen because in addition to having nice imagery in his feed he had a huge IG following (over 300,000) I was curious if Lexus had capitalised on the numbers game in order to gain an immediate audience. I downloaded the YouTube video, brought it into Premier Pro Video editing software (which I learned for this exercise) and proceeded to watch the film frame by frame because being a stop action animation consisting of still images it ran at eleven images per second. The Instagrammers name and picture reference code were located at the bottom right of each image with the frame number they shot. Frame by frame I documented its position in the film, and noted down the photographer. I designed a spreadsheet to capture data such as who each photographer was, the number of images in their portfolio (to give me a sense of their IG history and engagement), the number of followers (their immediate audience), the number they were following, the number they were in the group (this number I based on chronological placement in the video), the index number of the image category (photographers were given numbers to position where they would be in the video) made a note whether they posted the image on their personal feed and if they did the number of views it received (this was calculated through ‘likes’ which I counted as a definite view since the viewer has to participate through pressing the ‘like’ button on their smartphone), recorded the number of comments (to further drill down into the dialogue beyond a ‘like’), if I sent them an email questionnaire and if I received a completed reply. From this data I would try to form a theory. Once I had the name and the image number from the video frame I went to Instagram and searched for the 218 photographers and the desired information (see appendix for data sheets). I also conducted such thorough analysis of each photographer because I wanted to see if they were professional or amateur photographers with accounts on Instagram. Only one photographer shown had images and a link which presented and sold him as a professional photographer. This was branded as a historical event with “Over 200 Instagrammers gathered to join us in a world’s first creative collaboration. The goal? To make a film featuring the 2014 Lexus IS F SPORT, one Instagram photo at a time”. Given the late arrival of this (August 2013) I tried to capture two things: 1.) Outside of crowdsourcing creativity what other benefit if any was available to the brand? 2.) How did the Instagrammer’s perception of the photography/

commercial photography change following their contribution to a professional advertising campaign? In order to answer these two questions I gathered data again from the video, placed it in a spreadsheet and began asking some questions as the numbers appeared. For the first question regarding brand benefit this is as far as I could go in the time. I had to stop the research on August 8th to begin compiling this paper. It would be very exciting to contact Lexus too and discover what their expectations were and how they were met in addition to any surprise outcomes. Regarding Instagrammers perception, question 2.) I carried out a random sampling from the spreadsheet, looking for people with high number and low number audiences, experienced to inexperienced IGer, man and woman and nationality (from what I could ascertain from their IG profile). I made contact with 43 IGers in the IG environment and introduced myself as a researcher doing research on the developing relationships between brands and smartphone photographers. I provided my email address plus my IG account to make contact through. Out of the 43 only 8 responded to which I replied back with a questionnaire (see Pages 60 and 61). I received no answers to the questionnaire. Observations: From 218 photographers their collective number of followers is (potential audience) is 435, 894. The largest audience to a single IG photographer is 41,000 to whom he posted two thirds of his pictures receiving a confirmed viewing of 2041 likes and 213 comments. A handful of IGers appear at the opposite end with 0 followers and therefore 0 confirmed views. I did not take the mean which would be valuable. The total views registered through likes were 14,632 with 951 comments made. Interviewing Lexus and understanding their intent to produce a commercial in this manner is needed. I could only speculate on their maximising trends in social media, riding Instagram’s current popularity, gambling on crowdsourcing and the benefit an immediate audience. In mining the numbers that I collected I found it interesting that only fourteen IG’rs have audiences over 10,000 and a total of 325,000 followers. This is 75% of the total audience or looked at another way 6% of the shooters have 75% of the audience potential. Making a film with 14 Instagrammers doesn’t sound as exciting a media event as having a 218 Instagrammers nor does it look as impressive on camera. [44] LEXUSVEHICLES. (2013) #LexusInstafilm -- Featuring the 2014 Lexus IS [Online Video] 18th July 2013. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgmQV7hGQXM. [Accessed: 20th August 2013]. Opposite page: Screenshots of #LexusInstaFilm ad appearing on YouTube.


Screenshots of the recent 2014 Lexus IS commercials . The Instagram commercial remarkably traditional

outpaced highly



commercial by 40,000 views. Perhaps something of a novelty value here but it does promote



versitility of using the smartphone photographers, Instagram and brand for commercial purpose.

47388 YouTube views

87572 YouTube views


Brand and IG. The brand is linked to IG. The brand has residency and therefore access to IG’s community including smartphone photographers.


collaboration ethnography participation action research micro-blogging

See italisised note across page on Disturbia Index.



The film was released on YouTube on July 18th 2013 and to date has had 87, 572 views (see page opposite). If we contrast this with the YouTube placement of their three highly stylised Lexus IS commercials for the same vehicle, all launched a month earlier on June 13 and 14, 2013. ‘Crowd’ received 27,852 views, ‘Colour Shift’ received 47,388 (see page opposite)and ‘Track Honed’ received 97,712 views. In my ‘bean counting of big data’ the most fascinating item is where the Instagrammer commercial ranks in terms of views watched over time on YouTube. Being the most recent with just under a month on view the Instagram themed commercial drew the second highest views. Including the confirmed likes on Instagram that raises it to 95,917 views, a serious social media player. I found this fascinating because it merges the professional with the non-professional within the context of an ‘event’. In this way it sparks an enthusiasm and motivation amongst the 218 ‘agents of social media’ who were using smartphone photography as their medium. For Lexus it extended the brand outside of its traditional demographic (I’m inferring here) through the convergence with Instagram. The further extension of the imagery onto each Instagrammer’s feed, is ‘advertising as souvenir image’. The event produces event imagery which advertises the car on an app which does not have advertising in the traditional way (banner ads which appear across the mobile’s screen, for instance). Instead here the IGer comments “I shot this and it is in a Lexus ad campaign” or “I shot a car commercial!” and introduces a new conversation into their own feed therefore adding a product endorsement. Reading the replies you can see they are both about the car and the experience. This is advertising by using the Instagrammer in an endorsement chain. The once professional ad copy now comes in a different form through the authentic conversations by the Instagrammer as he relates his experience. That experience, the emotive, positive feedback loop is the social media marketing crude oil and for the moment it is coming in really really cheap. Since brands don’t advertise on Instagram, and Facebook is looking to find a way of bringing advertising in front of the 130 million plus users of Instagram without upsetting them, this backdoor entry into the hearts and minds of the Instagrammers is marketing genius. It is also very, very new research that I am squeezing in as I write because it is so valuable and such fresh ground.

 Disturbia factor +9 MAX This is perhaps providing the framework for the future. In a advertisement about the making of an advertisement the brand has promoted the functionality and comfortability of using Instagram and smartphone photography for something quite high up on the advertising food chain: an automobile. Through this projection the smartphone camera has its credibility endorsed, the only caveat being that one finds creative ways of using it. But this is true of cameras of all types.

As mentioned I received zero replies from my questionnaire which was emailed once we made contact through IG. Reasons for this could be not liking where I was heading with my questioning or that it was too long or time constraints. Once the context shifted from the IG ecosystem to the privacy of personal email it may have felt weird, unsafe, not worth it, inconvenient, too serious or not what they expected. The failure to launch this made me appreciate my decision in the research to embed myself within the community. Much of what has been said of the brand has been said because of what the IGer produces. The benefits are generically similar to my report on my own experience with Puma and Siemens. What I tried to do here that I had neglected to capture at Puma and Siemans is a more detailed account of what others felt they experienced. In all three cases what I missed is the view from the brand.


Instagram/ YouTube video data collected from #LexusInstaFilm







5/5 Hi XXXX! First off big HUGE thank you for getting in touch. I really appreciate it. This email looks a bit scary because I normally have a discussion with folks on Skype or break it down into bits but given my dissertation research is being compiled as we speak and I just spotted this amazing project I thought I’d send it and see if people will respond. It takes  about 10 to 20 minutes tops depending on how deep you wish to reflect on event.    PROJECT BACKGROUND   (If you’re interested)  Just a brief background on the research. Since the rise and popularity of Instagram there is a developing trend where major global brands are contacting and using “non-professional” photographer’s imagery for their marketing material. Nike, Jack Daniels, General Electric, Red Bull, Siemens, Burberry, Budweiser and most recently Lexus are just to name a few. Happening alongside this there is a growing argument which suggests that the smartphone photography movement is becoming obsessive and competitive and embedding itself within our lifestyle. Our decisions on the food we order to the choice of our family holiday is based on what will look good to the camera and how images will make us appear within our own social media networks. This is a loaded argument because it suggests that our personal time and choices are gradually eroding to an always on photo-call and we are seeing how the camera sees and losing our natural perception and experience. Insert this argument into brands finding imaginative ways of acquiring crowdsourced, user-generated content for advertising and marketing purposes, and we are lighting the sparks for huge change in photographic history in the way brands procure imagery. 


YOUR FEEDBACK Throughout this research I have been contacting Igers involved in different brand projects to measure quantitatively where we are in the stage of the above argument - what’s past and what’s evolving. The response has been so eclectic so I’d love to hear from you. I’ve got some questions to help form a sketch of your experience and response to the challenging arguments expressed above. Feel free to add any additional rants or praises in the form of comments. I’m using this format rather than a SurveyMonkey thingy because we creatives like to move in directions which are not necessarily restricted to boxes within boxes. Answer whatever you feel comfortable in offering.  In some cases I’ve started the sentences and you can simply complete them.     LEGAL -- PLEASE READ But before I go ahead I need to do the legal stuff and make you aware that this is a research project and the material you provide may find its way in whole or in part within my dissertation and you’re cool with that and of course you’ll be credited. Being a global village and everyone having access to everything please also be aware that there are those who may cut and paste my findings into their own research and I cannot be responsible nor police these activities. By answering this email you agree to those conditions. I hate that stuff...but it’s done... so now let’s get to you. 

An Emailed Questionnaire


I prefer to go by this name if published My age is around I work as a 

This project could only have taken place because of the: Smartphone camera  Instagram The creative team  User generated content The organisers 

and/or I’m a student studying  I like photography and consider myself a   Beginner Intermediate Advanced  Pro (I sell my work on a regular basis - cool huh?) 

This couldn’t have worked on Flickr or eyeem because   or This would have been great on Flickr or eyeem because  If we had to shoot this with DSLR’s it would have been  I didn’t get paid in cash but I got paid in 

I would consider myself a Photographer  iPhoneographer  Instagrammer  None of those but this instead ….   

If more brands did this I would The only negative thing I’d have to say is  The argument that “brands and personal photography converging through Instagram are changing the way we photograph” is 

The following are based on your Lexus Instafilm and smartphone photography experience: As a permanent document of this, something I can look back on when I’m old I have  This Lexus experience was an incredible:   Dream come true  Shift in my approach to photography. I now think I am  Historical moment Foot in the door  Something to do Chance to make my friends soooo jealous  Chance to get out from behind the screen and meet some real cool peeps A bit of this a bit of that but to sum up: 

••••••••••••••••••• Thank you again for your help with this research. Regards, Karl 

I travelled                miles  to get here and it took me                  hrs.  If I add it all up it cost me                 but I got                       in return.                 I’m did this because              

Karl Grupe MRes Design Goldsmiths University of London  London, UK  

Because I did this I feel Being part of this was one thing but what surprised me was  I’d definitely do something like this again because  You don’t need to learn this in school because  If I wouldn’t have done this I’d  Seeing my name in lights is so cool. I feel 


Review of Methodolgy. Disturbia is at the centre of a triangulation between technology, Instagram and brands. Unwrapping this a bit further, technology includes the increasing amount of users who take pictures with smartphone cameras and upload them. The most popular mobile only photo-social networking app is Instagram which is growing both in image upload and membership at a phenomenal rate. Brands refer to those who have opened up a user profile within the Instagram mobile photo network using its rising popularity to their advantage in building additional social networking currency through imagery. Remembering that this triangulation is a snapshot of the now I hoped I could: 1. determine the ‘ph’ balance of Disturbia in the context of what I practice. 2. whatever the result of 1, ask, what is the potential for the gap in the knowledge expanding or collapsing? 3. reflect on my practice and examine which is the direction past the now. 4. see if the photography of the amateur changes in the context of this triangulation. Being a photographer and teaching photographic workshops and reflecting on this practice at a time when mass amateurisation[45] was blurring the lines between professional and non-professional in the photographic and workshop communities meant there was a strong possibility of being negatively biased. I acknowledge this. However while I came to research in order to understand and learn how I might move and change in my practice, I realised I might find not only a gap in the knowledge but a gap in the market. Therefore I had made it my intention wherever possible, even when contacting photographers who appeared to be more ‘successful’ than me as a result of this triangulation, to remain unbiased. I chose this path of participatory ethnography by consulting two books and reading them with great care. Arriving at Goldsmiths with years of skill achieved through tacit knowledge and trial and error it seemed that in the short span of a year the learning curve would be very steep. Taking a position late in the MRes Design program (two months late due to university administration errors) and having to take care of a family member with can-

cer there was limited time for epistemological review. Balancing the study with a full-time practice and additional teaching it was common sense that my exploration would surround that which was occurring within my practice. Creating a practice-led study would allow for a double-loop learning and this feedback was

But my participatory ethnography and the multiple methods used were a way of me trying to control a raging fire. Not to put it out, but dance around and try to get my bearings about it. Villi[49] and Frey[50] in their research both used interviews and questionnaires for the majority of their research. What I saw as

something I was already accustomed to from my years of previous practical experience in my creative and entrepreneurial pursuits.

an advantage was that I had a practice, and in this way I could find the time and create more opportunities to elicit new knowledge by funnelling approaches through the practice. What I appreciate from Frey’s work is the attention to detail in a smaller study. But my research widens the gap by showing multiple angles through the triangularity that was formed thanks to the diagrammatic obsessions found in Collins’ book.

Gray and Malin’s Visualising Research[46] became a New Testament of sorts, and the role of practitioner-researcher seemed perfect for my situation of work/ life/ study balance. Bringing knowledge in from photography, technology and servicing clients from individuals to brands placed me in a most opportune position to pursue this research. Settling into participatory ethnography/ auto-ethnography was a logical step into the world of doing, observing and reflecting. Collins’ Creative Research[47] and in particular her use of many maps and flowcharts throughout her book may have stimulated a process within me to construct a learning model - a way of netting the abstract and grand plans of exploration and settling them into something more achievable. Creating the x-axis timeline of technology and practice gave a spine to my research while Disturbia became the constantly enlarging radical. It was inevitable that we should converge given the changes technology presents and my practice’s investment within it. One criticism I do have about my research pathway is the pace of it. In what became a two year part-time study Instagram went from 10 million members to 130 million. The athletic company Nike, with a hashtag collection totalling 12 million images by fans of the product ballooned to over 17 million images since I began monitoring it a year ago. My methodology it seems at the best of times was more of a reaction to the rapid growth than a methodical peeling away to get at something hidden or unseen. Perhaps there were answers in focusing in on a single layered approach, the Nike photoID[48] application for example, where they provide a service through which you can turn your personal Instagram photos into the colour palette of your next shoe. Perhaps here there is enough material to examine the brand/ smartphone photographer/ Instagram developing relationship.

But I did not stop there. The invitation to audit courses throughout my tenure at university gave me the opportunity to further explore this triangularity not only through the practice but by applying it to the various design briefs which accompanied the courses. While the relationship between the three factors did not always mould well with the brief, it was in the failure, or the marginal performance that either the unexpected or new courses for pursuit were flagged. Nothing went to waste. Evaluating my methodology I would say it became, what Denzin and Lincoln (1994) refer to as a ‘bricolage’ and I, the ‘bricoleur’ (Gray and Malins, 2004, p.74). The multiple methods were used not to find a way in but discover my way around and be enlightened. The rich, multiple angles that were unearthed fed well into my learning model - that of a practice passing through Disturbia, eventually reaching a point where it will be exposed to many opportunities for outcomes.


‘ ’

While there is no magic bullet here, sooner or later some place will figure out how to more fully tap the creative talents of much braoder segments of its people - and it will get a huge competitive edge as a result.

Exercpt from the book The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida


Some results of the research have been omitted from the methodology but passed forward to Outcomes. The reason for this is that they possess what I believe to be potential for future research and development. It is not that those already mentioned do not. In fact, some of the results of the methodology certainly overlap with some of the Outcomes. It is just that at the time of writing those put forward seemed to carry a ‘stickiness’ and were worth a more extended look.

[45] SHIRKY, C. (2009) Here Comes Everybody: How Change Happens When People Come Together. London. Penguin Books.

[46]GRAY, C. and MALINS, J. (2004) Visualizing Research: A Guide to the Research Process in Art and Design. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing. [47]COLLINS, H. (2010) Creative Research: The Theory and Practice of Research for the Creative Industries. Lausanne: AVA Publishing SA.

[48]NIKE PHOTOID [2013] [Online] Available from:https://photoid.nike.com/[Accessed:June 10th 2012]

[49]VILLI, M. (2010) Visual Mobile Communication: Camera Phone Photo Messages as Ritual, Communication and Mediated Presence. Jyvaskyla, Finland: wsBookwell.

[50]FREY, A. (2012) Pics or it Didn’t. Instagram in Prosumer Capitalism and Reflexive Modernity. Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences. Lund, Sweden: Lund University. Previous page, far left. Shared Methods and Processes map diagramming relationship between practice and research with loop in formation. A secondary loop is also documented on the left side of the panel to showcase the number of audited courses taken to test out various hypothesis linked to Instagram.




After years of being an autodidact, finding my education ‘in the practice’, one of the most challenging aspects in entering into academic research has been the transformation from ‘the knowing how into the knowing what’[51]. When the opportunity came then to audit courses during my MRes tenure I found this to be

consumerism project (#shoppingcartportraits). There is my experience being invited to shoot for multinationals like Puma and Siemans, not because I am a professional photographer of fifteen years and have a list of reputable clients, but simply because I am an Instagrammer. There is the return to university, the Awkward

age buying for brands and media, which values will shift and how? These are all the wild sparks of Disturbia. We hit the hot metal and see where the sparks fly.

beneficial as it served as a sort of DIY double loop learning. With each course came a brief for a project. And with each project I would press it through the Instagram app and see what would emerge on the other side. The outcomes of the first brief were then fed back into the pursuit of the second and the loop continued in this way. This process of fact finding through photography, displaying to my audience and beyond and the unsolicited but quasi requested feedback which made its way back to me mostly by comments or by the numbers of likes started to get me into a place where I could begin transforming the how into the what.

Space branding test project #goldsmithssocietyproject for Society and the Individual, kickstarting the branding and imagery for the MA Design show (@tilt_gold), the reflective branding test (@ thehashtagofman and www.thehashtagofman.com) for Technology, Culture and Change. There are the corporate pilot studies for University Arts London which due to terms of privacy cannot be disclosed but the visuals remain on Instagram at #lindtfunone and #missionitspossiblecodeone. Finally, the most recent documentation that exists on @stuffcarlsees portfolio before going to writing is of a public deteurrement, where by using improvisation and collaborating with a choreographer and six contemporary dancers we interrupt the Prospects of Design event (#designfutures) at Goldsmiths. Sown between these are shots of life - the stuff which surrounds us - seasons, people, things and they make up a visual portfolio of 1028 images and 910 followers.

from this research. While the directions are new and exciting they also represent some return on investment for this research and development.

But as much as this was useful I soon found that I was continuously scaling forward, always-on although I acknowledged very early on that I wished to rest and sit this one out, stay in the thicket and watch the world as it passed by. It turned out that I was ‘watching the world pass by’ but it would be from a speeding car rather than a seat in the thicket. It turned out I was much more a dynamic participant in my learning from and in the virtual and real world community. I was a builder, a networker, an enabler, and it was all happening very quickly. To slow down now would seem like I was going against some natural process so I decided to continue with it and maybe along the way I could find points to slow it down. The advantage of the DIY double loop is of course learning something new each time although that includes learning what is becoming more difficult to know. The most immediately visible outcome is that which now is my Instagram portfolio. Available at the tap of the app @stuffcarlsees is a credit-card sized photo album which remains the only visual record of my life in the last eighty two weeks. I find I am twothirds the way there to answering my own research question. In it one can see a neophyte trying to discover how this app works, to (in the complete jargonistic sense of the word) a ‘fame whore’ looking to get as popular as possible in the community. There is the escapist using Instagram to shore up some very low moments while taking care of my father while he had his cancer to the come-around moment when he was cleared. There is my Olympic 2012 socio-political project (#olympicswithouttickets) and my

The following are practical results that my practice has enjoyed

[51] GRAY, C. and MALINS, J. (2004) Visualizing Research: A Guide to the Research Process in Art and Design. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing. [52] REGALADO, A. (2013) Making money in mobile: Mobile computing is just getting started. MIT Technology.116. (3/May/June) p. 69 - 70. [53] THINK MARKETING MAGAZINE. (2013) Photos make up 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook. [Online] Available from http://thinkmarketingmagazine.com/index. php/photos-make-up-93-of-the-most-engaging-posts-on-facebook. [Accessed: 30th July 2013] [54] BBC NEWS TECHNOLOGY. (2012) Facebook buys Instagram photo sharing network for $1 bil. [Online] Available from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17658264. [Accessed: 30th May 2013] [55] INSTAGRAM. (2013) Instagram Stats. [Online] Available from: http://instagram.com/

We move now to the derivatives of my exploits with Instagram. These stand out because they possess what I believe to be a trajectory which will take them further from the quantifiable studies that they were. They also are exciting because they keep an eye on the unfolding relationship between the elements of my triangulation - brands, Instagram and the non-commercial user. The

press/#. [Accessed: 30th May 2013].

numbers are there. 4.5 billion are gradually making their switch to smartphone[52]. Of Facebook’s 1.06 billion monthly user’s photos rank as the most engaging post types - an astonishing 93%[53] . Facebook owns Instagram[54]. While there are the issues of big data and the information that lays in the EXIF data (all the bits and bobs about the technical info stuffed into each digital photo such as shutter speed, camera used, time of day, even GPS info) which is something that goes beyond the scope of this research, there is the question of the Big Picture. Forty million pictures a day is Big Picture[55]. 273 million images for #love is Big Picture[56]. Ilyanna Kerr’s See What I Mean project[57] is certainly breaking ground with her imaginative project using the current big picture. Automatic journaling cameras or ‘lifeloggers’ like Memento[58] and Autographer[59]are poised to increase big picture with their twelve day continuous loads or 28.000 images. If the rules of copyright continue to loosen, and as digital natives dominate the im-

June 2013]

[56] WEBSTAGRAM. (2013) [Online] Available from http://web.stagram.com. [Accessed: 1st September 2013] [57] SEE WHAT I MEAN. (2013) Say more with images. [Online] Available from http:// wwwseewhatimean.co.uk/#about. [Accessed: 7th September 2013] [58] MEMOTO. (2013) [Online] Available from http://memoto.com. [Accessed: 10th

[59]AUTOGRAPHER. (2013) The world’s first intelligent, wearable camera. [Online] Available from http://www.autographer.com/#home. [Accessed:10th June 2013]

Image opposite page: Sketched schematic of the learning model showing Disturbia and practice convergence, triangularity at the nexus, plane of research and finally possible outcomes as one passess through .

Screenshots of web adverts for my practice (The Mango Lab) to present upcoming workshops at Leeds Castle and The London Transport Museum which link brand, Instagram and smartphone photographer.


1. Become a brand enabler The Mango Lab supports the enabling of our clients completely. Could we now share our values with other brands and how would they listen? Story cubes. Probing kits. iPhone and Instagram exercises with dedicated hashtags for evaluation. Follow up. Becoming a leader in enabling services. The challenge we face is moving ourselves out from a ‘we teach photography’ position to a ‘we enable the enabler’. Our ontological has happened - now it needs to spread out. In light of the ‘easiness’ of photography I spoke of earlier image making is not about only image making but addressing self actualisation and the being a part of something larger. As a practice when we held our events we too often aimed at the quality of the experience and the photography. We were missing the point that the event itself held a value onto its own. Leed’s Castle[60] and The London Transport Museum[61] are both new clients that we are introducing new services to. September and November we deliver new services which explore all of the above. Due to client privilege, and since the events have not yet occurred I cannot release the fine details. However the marketing copy should hint at a few things:  Leeds Castle iPhoneography Workshop: A unique photographic opportunity.  Leeds Castle is pleased to announce a unique photography workshop which combines mobile phone photography with social media. Your morning (or afternoon) begins with a creative session in developing an eye for the seeing pictures. We then put lessons into practice walking the beautiful and picturesque castle and grounds photographing to a brief which promises to mix a dash of history with a sprinkle of technology. Returning to our seminar space we’ll look at post production techniques for polishing up those prize images, uploading successful work to a designated hashtag for critique and feedback by our award winning resident iPhoneographer. Finally your workshop will finish with an awards ceremony for Best in Show. This workshop plans to be very eventful and is open to beginner to intermediate smartphone photographers who wish to push their mobile photography experience to the next level. 

The London Transport Museum: Snapshots of the Future Develop your creative photography skills with experts from The Mango Lab. Let the transport of the past fuel your imagination, and design a ‘future probe’ kit to prepare yourself for travel in the future.  Have a go at ‘story-cubing’ to create collaborative photographic stories.  Bring your own smartphone or camera.

The challenge that lies ahead for the practice is to do away with roles. By creating new scenarios like these and for what we have planned which unfortunately cannot be mentioned, this position we find ourselves in is very exciting. In addition there is much scope for running workshops which teach brands how to use Instagram to their advantage. Instagram is not a revenue generating device, it is a ‘personality generating device’ and it requires being authentic. From my experiences with Puma and Siemans, to my recent interview with a young photographer who participated in the Lexus Instafilm advertisement, for the Instagrammer the photography is only a small part of the equation. Yes, it is great to get some good photographs but as I discovered in the events, which I attended, being a person with a great eye but without any social skills would be a bore. If we are moving towards this transformation economy then the event is where everyone comes together for the experience (it is the fulcrum), the shoot becomes a moment of self actualisation (I am here, I am shooting for Brand X, they give me a VIP card therefore I am deemed important to their needs, I have exclusive access) and through the collective and cooperation (during the shoot - shooting images, posting on Instagram through designated hashtags, seeing what others have photographed, commenting, receiving comments, making friends online and in person and after the shoot - seeing how the advert turned out, seeing what was selected, being part of a unique conversation exclusive to those who were part of the shoot, receiving prizes for ‘best in show’, being thanked personally by the brand). It is also here where for the moment anyways I believe my research does hold up. Being part of an event is a lifestyle choice and a part of the history of the now. It can be looked at another way - that it is not the photography which is danger and that we face a personal tax on our intimate experiences of our personal lives - no one is saying ‘go to that event’. If anyone is bending, if we can call it that, it is the brands. They open their doors to be photographed, don’t know who is showing up (so far I haven’t heard of a portfolio of images to be seen as brand protocol before an Instagram-style shoot). I have been at an event where the Instagramers drank a bit too much and I have been at events where the Instagrammers have only shot a couple of shots and then enjoyed the rest of the evening. Having a party of Instagrammers is like bringing in one arm of a PR machine, and even if for the night they don’t shoot too much they are doing something else - texting, engaging, spreading the word of where they are and what they are doing. Those who sign up to the events simply have a great attitude and are fun. They are gregarious by nature and the photography is a heightened level of their individual and collective experiences. [60] LEEDS CASTLE. (2013) What’s on at Leed’s castle? [Online] Available from http://www.leeds-castle.com/goto.php?sess=+A5E5145191850465D+E+852&id=99. [Accessed: 13th September]

[61] LONDON TRANSPORT MUDEUM (2013) What’s on. [Online] Available from http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/. Accessed: 11th September]


Testing the brand message. This series photographed and launched on Instagram under the hashtag #goldsmithssocietyproject


ceived 950 likes in 24 hours on 26 images.


2. Netting Images for Purpose It began on Instagram as a test. The first bid was in the course I audited: Mathilda Tham and Hannah Jone’s ‘Society and the Individual’. We were asked to examine an awkward space and propose a future design solution for it. The methodology for this was linked to the methodology of my main

the hashtag #thehashtagofman - an obvious play on the FoM but substituting ‘hashtag’ since this was a non gallery way of indexing. This part of the test was a failure. I learned that not all Instgrammers are photographers as not everyone knows the history of The Family of Man: there are many deriva-

research - design a situation to flesh out opportunities which would expose me to how amateur smartphone photography, brands and Instagram were embedded and being used commercially. The methods were to simply photograph images with my smartphone, load to the app Instagram, tag the shots with #goldsmithssocietyproject and see if these ‘blandscapes’ I took would turn into ‘neobrandscapes’. The brand in this case was Goldsmiths. Not that Goldsmiths was an awkward space but the online presentation of it was. In my street interviews with foreign students who bought into the university mostly from the marketing photographs on the university’s website, they were not too pleased when they arrived. This uncomfortableness, while it fed into my Disturbia hypothesis at the time, also fed into the use of images for accuracy and depiction of a reality. I proceeded to photograph ‘awkward spaces’ around the campus which consisted of areas where I found chairs overturned in the snow, broken trees, small paths that led to dead spaces, etc. After posting this on Instagram my 26 images received almost 1000 likes in 24 hours. Our group was then going to make a mock website reconfiguring the sunny, blue sky, lively shots of the four key buildings that make up the majority of the Goldsmiths’ website[62]with our ‘top hits’ from our 26 in 24 but the direction went another way. However the quality of those numbers, led me to a Phase 2.

tives of an Instagrammer. I also began to think that maybe my idea was misguided. Maybe Instagram IS the modern Family of Man with its main page a fetish feature for the shopper, the fitness guru, the foodie, the music hound, the lover of bling bling, fingernails and toy dogs. Maybe this is where the digital native meets the digital immigrant.

In my second audited class with Tham and Jones - ‘Technology, Culture and Change’ - I applied a similar pattern consistent with my methodology. Except instead of taking the pictures I would curate the idea for which pictures could be submitted. Moving towards a brand-like strategy the idea was to net other people’s images for the purpose of bringing attention to the main idea creating a systemic approach. When presented with the brief of asking us to act as a change agent I first decided to find a well-known and historic ‘brand’ in the photography industry. It was ‘The Family of Man’ [63]. Editing

Speaking via Skype with Marianne Hope, a Norwegian economist turned Instagram-preneur (she credits the building of her business www.seemycity.com[64] with happening completely through Instagram) her following of fifty-seven thousand people was built from ‘understanding that Instagram was a social media site that used photography’. Once she understood that she says ‘I remember one who did amazing street photography in New York and he had 5000 followers at that time and I had 100…and I was thinking wow 5000, Wow, how did he do that? And I was so amazed by his photogra-

the history to fit within the framework of this research I chose Steichen’s 1955 project because it was touted as ‘a project more than any other, [which] shifted the locus of photographic meaning from the production of images to the arrangement of those images’. I felt Instagram was a contemporary version of The Family of Man instead of a physical exhibition travelling around the world.

phy and I thought I want to be, I want to… make an impact with my photography. So I just started experimenting, started to teach myself how to use the apps, the editing apps, getting better at that, and I spent a lot of time learning about the apps, how to edit. In a creative way… I started out with alot of flowers….I’m a bit known for my minimalistic flowers…white background and that stuff and that started to give me a bit of an audience. And then from there I experimented with whatever I liked.’

Instagram is all over the world, always-one and available as we carry it in our pocket. If the The Family of Man (FoM hereafter) shifted production and arrangement of images, Instagram shifted the numbers. Millions and millions of images. I thought I would come in and be a change agent by offering a room within the gallery of Instagram - one nostalgic for those images of love, birth, war, death but updated, and contemporised by the smartphone, crowdsourcing and Instagram. As an aside I was also testing a kind of ‘build it and they will come’ theory since the 24in26 project had been such a success. If Steichen and his team could view over 32 million images in 3 years then the numbers for my project were looking very good. It didn’t happen. By the time I went to presentation I only had five images up and a handful of followers. My method was again simple - after making an account on Instagram to design poster image for the front page, describe the project and catch the images that fell under

Mathilda Tham’s support of the project and suggestion to test it further made me stay with it after the course was over. Her advice to let the ‘failure of it speak to me’ turned out to be valuable and visionary. Four weeks later, feeling the project did not launch well and that it remained in state of very little yield I thought I would give it a boost. A concern from the outset of this exercise was to keep the branding within the context of Instagram, and not social market it through Facebook streams. However that proved to be very limiting. I thought social networking simply the concept without too much work could drive the idea forward, built only on the history of Steichen’s idea. However, as I would find out later, there are many image makers on Instagram that are really very good photographers not from learning photography’s history but from observing the ‘nowness’ or from other photographers online, through Instagram and through the art of play.

[62]GOLDSMITHS (2012) [Online] Available from: http://www.gold.ac.uk. [Accessed: 4th February 2012] [63]MASON, J. (ed.) (1955) The Family of Man: The greatest photographic exhibition of all time. New York: Maco Magazine. [64]SEE MY CITY (2013) [Online] Available from: http://www.seemycity.com. [Accessed: 30th May 2013]


The original book of The Family of Man.

CONTACTsheet is a monthly review of new photographers who sign up and supply imagery to #thehashtagofman.


Photographers enjoy this set because it introduces them to new talent .

2. Netting Images for Purpose (continued) Here pictures happened to have what a large part of the community likes. But what about those beneath the radar? Those without a ‘stickiness’ to their pages? I decided to pick an image out of the thirty that had come into the designated hashtag gallery and write a feature on the artist. That feature would be treated as a magazine cover and placed on the sister website www.thehashtagofman.com which I made as a kind of enlarger so images could be seen bigger than what one sees on the smartphone. This became the tipping point. In an app which is loaded with likes, emoticom replies, and single word appreciations such as ‘cool’ and ‘sick’ a dedicated feature essay written not about the photo but about the photographer’s way of seeing has that gold social capital. And the brand was borne. After twenty-seven weeks from its failure to launch the site plays host to over 400 followers and has recieved over 6100 quality lifestyle images such as @9magdalena9 on the opposite page. Submissions have risen from 1 a day to anywhere between 25 and 90 images and it has a wonderful engaging community. During the weeks,I have created events like the Summer Soul-stice Shoot and every four weeks there is a montage of nine photographs, posted and labelled as CONTACTsheet where photographers can see other talented works from a genre of photography which has its roots in The Family of Man. The weekly feature remains the root to this project, where each week I write a 250 word reflection, now called SOTW (the acronym for shot of the week), on a contributors work. Like Hope, I have found a niche and what works and now the social marketing has begun. The statistics for the site I have included as I watched over it for a week and bean counted the results. It is obvious that as my maintenance stops on the site the numbers of submissions begin to fall off. Being in the face of the audience is important. But part of my ‘change agency’ was to play with this, bring in something of what my project was about and see what would happen if I slowed things down. What if in the rapid pace of Instagram which reloads in fractions of a second I created something that had a reload time span of a week? How would my audience change or grow? I don’t know. I have nothing to compare it to. There is significant growth in what has been done in the way it has been done but probably what is more important is that the ‘brand’ has drawn out a certain class of Instagrammer. This is Instagram for the thinker, the reflector, the humanist and social observer. One will not find painted fingernails nor ‘pouts and posers’. The tagline is ‘life.daily.now.’ and the battery of images show that. This one is a project on the rise and in the making. It has provided agency for change, and that seen in the community which has collected here. The bigger test is in this always-on globally connected society can we surpass Steichen’s draw of two million images, a kind of analogue days and ways versus a digital days and ways. Two and a half years from now I’ll be able to have a better view. But there are early lessons already. The digital, this ‘brand’ offers a connection. Everyone during this process can be seen. Unlike with Steichen’s selection process. There is no closed envelope, hierarchal top down approach. In this way, even if we do not attain the numbers that Steichen received the quality of experience, for those who remain the unseen, in that they were never featured, are still visible by touring through the hashtag. As Hope pointed out in her interview that regarding time and practice ‘Instagram has taught me to see in a nicer way - to take more inter-

esting pictures. The way I photograph now is definitely because I learned it from looking at other’s work on Instagram and in that way the [Instagram] app pushes me to be more creative’. Today’s unseen could be tomorrows popular in the Instagram ecosystem. Hope saw 5000 as a high amount of followers and now has 57,000 herself. The #hashtagofman is now embedded into the cognisphere and what becomes of it remains to be seen, as yet unknown. At the moment it is transforming into the ‘tHoM’ project which has been inspired by an unfolding taxonomy of imagery that is streaming into #thehashtagofman. Additionally there have been a few stand out moments while acting as curator. Outside of the inspiring comments and a recent mention in a posting on a French Arts channel website it is about the people. When contributors you don’t know address photos of the birth of their first born or come out from behind a privacy status in order to share a photo in the memory of one who recently passed away - because they ‘believe in the integrity of the project’ this is something simply outstanding. Juxtaposing these findings with my original question of Instagram and brands and a question of how pervasive this will be in the future, there is some evidence here of that happening. This is an ongoing study with the future unknown at the moment.


0027 WEEKS 77

The Summer Soul-stice was an event I created to generate more photography

CONTACTsheet is a monthly

#thehashtagofman begins to

to my brand - #thehashtagofman. The

review of new photographers

get featured on blogs.

success of it was so-so probably due to

who sign up and supply im-

it being conceived rather last minute


(two days before). This affected the turn

Photographers enjoy this set

out and I realised that even in the virtual

because it introduces them to

landscape of Instagram some planning

new talent .

is required. I didn’t measure the before and after of its success.




2. Netting Images for Purpose (continued)

The motivation behind @thehashtagofman was, amongst other things, to establish a virtual facility that would operate as a beta- brand. It was created by first registering the name on Instagram and obtaining the domain @thehashtagofman. I also registered the website www.thehashtagofman.com to bring the imagery out from the Instagram ecosystem and place it into the much larger audience of the Internet. Once the administration was completed I designed an identity page as part of my profile on Instagram and placed the following information, name, website, email on the site. In the bio box provided, which appears on one’s Instagram homepage, you are given 150 words to describe yourself and make an impression. Here I wrote the following: Building a contemporary version of the popular 1955 exhibit The Family of Man. Submit:#thehashtagofman. Weekly features on SOTW. See it at www.thehashtagofman.com The the first picture I placed in the feed provides a larger explanation of the project (See ‘Comments’ opposite). Following on from this initial start up this was all that was required. As mentioned I did not solicit photographers by outside sources (Facebook, Twitter etc.) This was to be kept as a ‘build it and they will come’ style test. The only early marketing that I would do is visit photographer’s feeds through the Instagram Search box, find images and suggest they post to #thehashtagofman as it fit the requirements of the Steichen ‘look’ (albeit made more contemporary through technology and fashion). The data collected on the following pages shows a seven day observation recorded during waking hours and manually entered onto the charts. This was achieved twenty-five weeks after launch and with 360+/- followers. Taking the amount of images at the time and dividing it by the number of weeks I arrived at an average submission rate of twenty-five images per day. The charts show a significant shift in this popularity. There was a spike in interest following the feature CONTACTsheet (see page 78) observed by the behaviours of an increase in the number of comments, likes or through submission of imagery. What was interesting is that as the ‘brand’s’ creator there was nothing that I needed to do. The imagery was being fed into the brand on its own by an unspecified audience in numbers double or almost triple that of the mean. Using Instagram in this way, creating a mock brand to test the reaction and participation of an audience was valuable towards understanding the operation of an Instagram site once it has embedded itself within enough of an audience over time. Through their hashtagging efforts, referencing within their own social networks their photography, and a commitment to the ethos behind the concept the sustainability of the idea remains high and worth consideration of how this may be used constructively in the future. From testing a product, teasing out an idea, connecting people who share a similar ideology or theme, creating a visual repository for an event or activity, all are potential options for exploration through the use of Instagram and its community.


24/7 - A week-long analysis of participant behaviour on the Instagram I created entitled #thehashtagofman Study conducted Monday 5th August to Sunday 11th August 2013

tHoM growth 24 hrs later after an event August 7 2013 â–źHours







9 356 0 35 3909 0 1First like to appear since last recorded like 10 356 0 35 3911 +2 0 11 (11:30 I load new post CONTACTsheet4)







12 357 0 36 3916 +2 +12 1 358 +1 36 3924 +8 +10 2 (avg of 25 was was hit)







3 360 +2 36 3938 +2 +7 4 360 0 36 3939 +1 +1 5 360 0 36 3939 0 +3 6 360 0 36 3947 +8 +7 7 360 0 36 3958 +11 +1 8 360 0 36 3965 +7 +3 9 359 -1 36 3972 +7 0 10 359 0 36 3973 +1 +1 11 359 0 36 3977 +4 0 12 359 0 36 3977 0 0 1 359 0 36 3778 +1 0 2 s s s s s s 3 s s s s s s 4 s s s s s s 5 s s s s s s 6 s s s s s s 7 359 0 36 3986 +9 0 8 358 -1 36 3986 0 0 9 358 0 36 3989 +3 0 Total







The number of images over the +53 over avg.


average of 25 images submitted per day.

tHoM growth 24 hrs later after an event August 8 2013







Hours 9 358 0 36 3989 0 0 10 358 0 36 3999 +10 0 11 358 0 36 3999 0 0 12 359 +1 36 3999 0 0 1 360 +1 36 4001 +2 +1 2 (avg of 25 was was hit)







3 sleep due to migraine







4 360 0 36 4007 +5 0 5 360 0 36 4007 0 0 6 360 0 36 4010 +3 +1 7 360 0 36 4010 0 0 8 360 0 36 4010 0 0 9 360 0 36 4022 +12 +2 10 360 0 36 4034 +12 0 11 359 -1 36 4034 0 0 12 359 0 36 4042 8 0 1 s s s s s s 2 s s s s s s 3 s s s s s s 4 s s s s s s 5 s s s s s s 6 s s s s s s 7 359 0 36 4060 +18 0 8 359 0 36 4060 0 0 9 359 0 36 4060 0 +1 Total





+ 71


46 over avg.

The number of images over the average of 25 images submitted per day.


tHoM growth 24 hrs later after an event August 9 2013







Hours 9 359 0 36 4060 0 0 10 359 0 36 4060 0 0 11 359 0 36 4064 +4 0 12 359 0 36 4064 0 0 1 359 0 36 4072 +8 0 2 359 0 36 4078 +6 0 3 359 0 36 4078 0 0 4 (avg of 25 was was hit)







5 s s 36 s s s 6 s s 36 s s s 7 s s 36 s s s 8 360 +1 36 4102 +17 2 9 360 0 36 4109 +7 0 10 359 -1 36 4111 +2 0 11 s s s s s s 12 s s s s s s 1 s s s s s s 2 s s s s s s 3 s s s s s s 4 s s s s s s 5 s s s s s s 6 s s s s s s 7 360 +1 36 4112 +1 0 8 360 0 36 4114 +2 0 9 360 0 36 4116 +2 0 Total 360 +1 36 4116 +54 +2 The number of images over the +29 over avg.


average of 25 images submitted per day.

tHoM growth 24 hrs later after an event August 10 2013







Hours 9 360 0 36 4116 0 0 10 360 0 36 4116 0 0 11 360 0 36 4116 0 0 12 361 +1 36 4117 +1 0 1 away away 36 away away away 2 (avg of 25 was was hit)







3 361 0 36 4126 +9 0 4 s s 36 s s s 5 s s 36 s s s 6 away away 36 away away away 7 361 0 36 4134 +8 0 8 361 0 36 4138 +4 0 9 361 0 36 4145 +7 0 10 361 0 36 4152 +7 0 11 360 - 1 36 4158 +6 0 12 360 0 36 4158 0 0 1 s s s s s s 2 s s s s s s 3 s s s s s s 4 s s s s s s 5 s s s s s s 6 s s s s s s 7 360 0 36 4178 +20 0 8 360 0 36 4179 +1 0 9 36 4181 +2 Total





+ 65


+40 over avg. The number of images over the average of 25 images submitted per day.


tHoM growth 24 hrs later after an event August 11 2013







Hours 9 360 0 36 4181 0 0 10 360 0 36 4183 +2 0 11 360 0 36 4183 0 0 12 360 0 36 4183 0 0 1 360 0 36 4185 +2 0 2 (avg of 25 was was hit)







3 360 0 36 4191 +5 0 4 361 0 36 4194 +3 0 5 361 0 36 4197 +3 0 6 361 0 36 4205 +3 0 7 361 0 36 4209 +4 0 8 361 0 36 4209 0 0 9 361 0 36 4209 0 0 10 361 0 36 4209 0 0 11 361 0 36 4212 +3 0 12 361 0 36 4213 +1 0 1 s s s s s s 2 s s s s s s 3 s s s s s s 4 s s s s s s 5 s s s s s s 6 s s s s s s 7 361 0 36 4241 +28 0 8 361 0 36 4241 0 0 9 361 0 36 4244 +3 Total 3 61 0 36 4241 +38 0 +63 over avg. The number of images over the


average of 25 images submitted per day.



Start of day

End of Day


Notes 1

Notes 2

Days Monday August 5




+67 over avg.

+92 artist profiled artist retweets @ + www statigram

Tuesday August 6





separate artist


+64 over avg. links tHoM and

website to her IG


Wednesday August 7






+53 over avg


No.4 up loaded

Thursday August 8





+46 over avg Friday August 9





+29 over avg Saturday August 10





+40 over avg Sunday August 11





+38 over avg Total







The number of images submitted +6 increase +337 over avg. over the weekly average of 175 images.


Contemporary dancers creating a ‘strangeness’ during the Prosepects of of Design Salon at Goldsmith. The perfromance was a collaborative effort to bring a pysicality to the extensive social networks that we belong to and the interuptions they pose throughout the day.

3. Creating the Event During my methodology I thought it may be useful to create a bit of détournement - encapsulate the feeling and functioning of Distrubia and translate it through performance in order to generate a conversation. Granted this was a bit unorthodox, but I didn’t see it as sabotaging the research, instead it

Hello Nicola,

was more of an injection into it, to see if through the process something would shake loose and form new insight. I emailed a past student of mine who I knew studied dance.

of connectivity but I am holding back as I explore a word I invented during the course of this project to develop a better definition. I think it would make a great dance/ performance title but this one is a necessary foundation piece before moving into abstraction. •••••••••••     • connectivity •••••••••••      •

Some of the dancers getting phones prepped for before their performance of interruption. The climax of this process came during Tom White’s lecture (2013) on community and in front of the attending guests and delegates of the Sharing the Future through Design event. Without warning a group six of dancers plus myself raised from our theatre seats where we and began to unfold and rollout, reach, morph, collide, extend and contract, down the stairs, across the seats until we ended up as a cohesive and morphing fluid human system armed with smartphones taking pictures and messaging before the large screen in the New Academic Building auditorium.  The attempt was to create an event within an event. Load the performers with smartphone cameras and a dedicated Instagram hashtag (#designingfutures) and record while they were being recorded - as reverse spectator or panopticon. In this collision where the watched watch back I was looking for a visual narrative to form online through the systems within Disturbia. It didn’t. This was an overestimation on my part that everyone has smartphones, is social networked, and uses Instagram. Additionally I had no net for monitoring how it worked as a tool for collecting the data from my research. I couldn’t record because I was performing, because it was an interruption I had nothing prepared as a feedback. Strategically placed video would have worked to later observe behaviour but this was not available at the time.

Please find one of the projects listed below. I have another which is the dissertation piece which is still linked to the idea

We have been drawn in through the rectangular light of our smartphones. As soon as we turn them on we dip our heads towards the glow and enter into the light where we visit virtual and digital landscapes painted by illusion making code. Forgetting the physical space we occupy, the people we are situated among, the events that are taking place in our physical context we exchange one presence for another. Once ‘in’ we locate whatever our needs may be. We build or maintain relationships, learn, keep current, share, comment, complain, watch or be watched.We cross into networks within networks, from the origin or through the interlacing of many levels as we become virtual jumpers. This project is an inverting of the social dynamic that happens down beneath the reality. Turning it inside out and once at street level, on view and observed, we record the reactions and responses from both watcher and the watched. Through public performance and film we offer up the question of how this increasing adaptation to mobile technology is creeping up on our visceral self and reducing it. Do we face an extinction of the present?  I have permission to exhibit either film or live performance  (or both) at: 

At the beginning of the event there were cards A5 sized cards being handed out and there were other mentions during the introduction of the hashtag #designingfutures. Virtually we had nets set to catch any data passing by. The traffic was minimal. Only a single tweet made a brief mention and it was by one of the students assisting in the event.

10:00 am - 4:00 pm at Goldsmiths University on June 7th, 2013 - the most important and immediate date at the moment (a short film to serve as a taster is all that is required featuring 5 performers in a “walkup”)

However as a tool for conversation, amongst the peers and the dancers themselves there was excitement. This was a tool for change and exploration: it opened up different channels of thought and use. For the dancers they found a new way of performance. We spoke of creating disturbance to wake people out of their drifting attention spans which happens in lectures and maybe there was scope of bringing dance into more learning opportunities, adding theatre of the strange in order to emphasise points. And there was the acting out of the performance as well, something I elected to do, in order to feel the discomfort in creating a design where I am responsible for what will create a feeling of awkwardness, or even a tinge of embarrassment. And this is why this is an outcome and not placed in my methodology. There is scope to explore mixing social media into dance, overlapping the two in a network overlapping network piece building it into a metaperformance or metadance.

Tilt (our final show which will be taking place during London Design Week in the Shoreditch area) Opening night September 17th - This will be the thesis presentation where the final performance (or film if time permits) will be unveiled.

September/October at a National Trust property

Due to the sensitive nature of the project (it is a year of my work and with video and internet making thinks easy to pirate) I ask that you keep the details of the project confidential. Once we have tasters up online and date stamp them via a blog or Vimeo then I am happy to begin sharing them. Look forward to hearing from you. Regards, 87 Karl

eye eye eye A PHOLLOGRAPHY AGENCY MOBILE +44 (0)7500 86 1122

4. A new photography agency Throughout the research the size of the numbers more than anything else, has shown just how large photography has become. While technology continues to make it easier, more convenient and creative through randomness, luck and the sheer volume of work we produce through gadgets like ‘lifeloggers’, to obsessive documentation with our smartphone cameras, it seems almost unessessary to say but the supply of images has long outstripped demand. While there still remains a call and exclusivity for the traditional talent (commercial photographers represented by agencies or representing themselves through traditional marketing such as portfolios, websites, etc) there are early indications of brands unravelling and using Instagram-only photographers. Representing photographers with a strong following over a strong portfolio may be the way to market in the future. Designing a service which puts photographers with a following of 10K, 50k, 100k or more of followers is an instant audience. The LexusInstafilm research proved this. BuisnessInsider.com posted an article on March 12, 2013 about “The 15 Most Influential Instagram Users Advertisers are Dying to Work With” which included an IT specialist, graphic designers, a pilot, an intern at an ad agency and a handful of freelance photographers with additional lines of employment. They have all been flown around the world, photographing interesting things but not many have been paid. I call it ‘works for perks’ . Clients include T-mobile, RadioShack, Nike, US Open, Evian, Iceland and Israel tourism, Samsung, Johnnie Walker, Toyota, General Electric, National Geographic, O2, Ted Baker. This would be any agency’s dream come true but this collection is a web article not a roster for hire. While these are all good photographers, most having a bit of luck in getting onto Instagram early, others just have the luck of shooting what surrounds them well and what surrounds them is interesting (San Francisco and New York as backdrops help). It is the numbers which are astounding and which make you see why this is a good idea. These 15 smartphone photographers have a combined social network of 4,414,000. Over 4 million people follow these 15 photographers. (Celebrities with similar followers as some of the IG photographers listed in the BI report receive anywhere from $650 and upwards per product Tweet). Followers are certainly valuable to a brand’s marketing launch as are images. An extended examination of this outcome I have left for the evaluations and critique at the end of this paper since it rests well with my conclusions.




MOBILE +44 (0)7500 86 1122

eye eye eye A PHOLLOGRAPHY AGENCY MOBILE +44 (0)7500 86 1122




MOBILE +44 (0)7500 86 1122

a phollography story. the photographic economy is changing. with increasing image quality through smartphone photography and the visibility of talent amongst amateur photographers on photo-sharing and networking sites like instagram and EyeEm there is an emerging mass of creativity that is valuable to brands. but this is more than just talent - they bring instant audiences. a smartphone or mobile photographer can have an audience of 1000 to 500,000 followers on Instagram alone. hiring two photographers with 500,000 followers each can place a brand in front of 1 million viewers. until now brands using the socially networked mobile photographer have been trading in a ‘work for perk’ system. enter eyeeyeeye. in a new age of photographic communication pre-packed with large audiences we need to look beyond what commercial photography has meant in the past and what it served as we move into the future. we see a mobile photographer’s talent plus their audience of followers as a double asset and should be compensated beyond the current ‘work for perk’. this follower/photography mixture which is a product of online photo-sharing is something we call ‘phollography’ and represents a new economy of photography. we act as both an agency which represents and brokers relationships between brands and our team of phollographers and as creative, designing briefs to produce events which maximise the use the mobile photo-sharing social media platform. we see this as an exciting time for mobile photographers, where the efforts of building audience through photography has now a commercial value. eyeeyeeye. we’re fresh. we’re new. we’re hiring.

eye eye eye A PHOLLOGRAPHY AGENCY MOBILE +44 (0)7500 86 1122



Big Picture getting Bigger. This research began from the nudges and niggles that occurred, accumulated and crossed over in time within my practice. Making this time to reflect throughout my particpatory auto-ethnographic practice-led process enabled me to establish early on how we (the practice) have been agents re-

If I have any criticism of the research it would be that in balancing a practice and going off on these sojourns to gather data, make observations, be a comfortable visitor in a visual landscape, takes much more time than I had ever anticipated. I had to make a judgement between how much liter-

sponding to every beat of the technology within our industry. Photography is a top-heavy technology-based industry requring a wide range of tools, from the equipment used for capture to the means for its display, marketing and promotion. There are the larger tools, the less mobile and much more expensive utilities like desktops and studio kit and memory heavy software like Adobe Media Suites, which, if anything, still makes us feel like ‘photographers’. And then there are the ubiquitous mobile devices which we carry, and within them post-production software for under a pound, cameras, and the ability to launch and exhibit online within under a minute from wherever there is a wifi signal. There was an intuitive ‘signal’ that I needed to pick up on this, and learn about, with its potential, as it was the most recent to appear on the time/tech timeline I mapped out.

ature I could read and how much time I had to venture into the Instagram ecosystem. The fact that when people I know only through Instagram visit London and want to meet up with me, or that I am given permission to post an image of a family member recently deceased on a feed I created suggests that I have been welcomed into the community as both Instagrammer but more importantly a researcher and enabler. This came through a year and a half of commitment to the process. But as I got to know the people, I missed the chance to experience the branding aspect, other than my interview with Mariane Hope of www.seemycity.com. Although I ran 3 workshops with marketing teams from large enterprises exploring the Instagram assets, due to their confidentiality requests my research is disappointingly not able to give a voice to my results.

I came into the MRes in Design program not with anything specific in my sights, a certain ‘thing’ which I wanted to design, or a proposal already intact which I wanted to explore. The program would be the exploration and during this I would have time to reflect and find what it was that was in our practice’s best interest to explore. Initial research brought me to the app Instagram (simply by hearing about it through our students, reading current online photographic sites like Petapixel.com, the British Journal of Photography and Image magazine, produced by the Association of Photographers here in the UK. Instagram, being a smartphone-only application began to form a framework for my future research, and so I began to test it through a participatory ethnography and the auditing opportunities presented during my research time at Goldsmiths. The combination of looking at design through different briefs and translating those briefs through the smartphone photography mobile photo social networking app language gave me the framework to hone in on something specific, and unpack it to examine it in detail. Seeing responses to my visual translation of briefs put out into

Disturbia, which was once the creeping up of technology, now feels like a full immersion which has us free falling through a complex set of constant adjustments as we live in an always-on world. One moment we are excited by the status of a friendship or an updated app but then lost or frustrated when we are out of power and have lost the ability to be connected. This began as an exploration on the tax on people’s intimate lives, hypothesising that in Disturbia through this triangulation Instagrammers were turning family events and holidays into a stage of opportunities for imagery that would in turn feed back to the brands. While Nike’s PhotoID, where Instagrammer memories are transformed into a colour palette for shoes and Lexus’ Instafilm are examples of ‘early adaptors’, there is evidence of this becoming a growing trend as major labels are responding to this new goldrush of public relations looking for new ways to integrate the Instagrammer into custom brand experiences.

Instagram ecosystem bred excitement. There was life in these things I was doing - people I didn’t know were signalling in - not just in the tens or hundreds but in the thousands. I would stay here, rest and see what we was going on. Pick through the items and build a report. It was in this ethnography that I discovered that there were others with much larger swarms signalling in and so my interest in brands in the Instagram ecosystem formed.

where the imagery results in a full endorsement of the product. Instagrammers form memories, make a community, self actualise, feel they have made a meaningful contribution, through the act of photography and the commercial experience. As a practice we see that photography is the commodity and the way we have viewed it - more as digital immigrants than digital natives - is changing dramatically in its purpose for the user. We need to ask how do we accommodate this as this development continues. At this stage it seems isolated to the smartphone and Instagram user. However if this is successful what will be the next generation of Instagram? What will be the currency of the visual, and what will be our contribution, should we decide to be a part of this, within it? The #hashtagofman and the new photographic agency are tempting outcomes to further research as the ethos seems to fit. From here it is time and technology that will tell.

It was through the triangulation of brands, the smartphone photographer and Instagram that I would take residence. Professionally I was witnessing something I had never seen before - the openness with which brands were giving access and the right to publish to these ‘unknowns’. By unknowns I mean these were people using photography, attending events for publication purposes, without any portfolio review or background check through a professional website, as credentials. We were simply there as Instagrammers. The ease with which this was happening had me concerned about how this would trickle down into the industry, how the future value of photography would be appreciated. If photography was this easy then our practice would face even more upset than what I was reporting in my earlier research.

This positions Instagrammers to choose to spend weekends and be part of a ‘brand’ experience



eye eye eye






Revisiting the Learning Model


In announcing the project Eye Eye Eye, a phollography agency, I am interested in moving the research onto a level where I tap into and examine the developing mix of photographic talent with social media popularity: phollo as a play on “follow“ combined with the craft of photography. Here I examine a new photographic portfolio emerging, one of both creative imagery and immediate audience derived from the photographers’ personal contact stream (which includes but

It is my intention that through the lens of Eye Eye Eye I may be able to answer questions more accurately and with a stronger argument. In addition I look forward to entering an exciting time of photography where the mobile photo-social networking world is only just warming up. Smartphone usage, globally, is not yet near critical mass. Keeping in mind that Instagram has been in operation for a shorter amount of time than many university degrees, the research is only now beginning to

is not exclusive to Instagram). Currently there exists a ‘work-for-perk’ platform for smartphone photographers, which is capitalising, by giving access to unique opportunities, which is certainly exciting for the non-professional smartphone photographer (my Puma, Siemens and Lexus case studies are all examples of this). As remuneration, they receive anything from free admission to events, exclusive behind the scenes access, to t-shirts, photo credits and free lunches. However the value a photographer brings with their multiple thousands in a follower stream IN ADDITION TO the photography represents a double asset portfolio which I feel holds a new currency, as mobile photography, especially in social media image making, increases.

come out. Since July of 2013 the amount of smartphone/ photography/ Instagram/ business literature has increased significantly. It is one of the main reasons why I spent a year as a participatory ethnographer because the state of the art was so new. And this state of the art moves very fast.

Steering the research in this direction offers a new practice, and a new learning model. I believe that presenting myself through an agency to brands may gain us access to a higher quality research than was experienced up till now. To date, from the research, we see that uploading imagery onto Instagram, even as banal as the #goldsmithssocietyproject, has audience. One thousand likes in twenty-four hours certainly brings with it a curiosity to see what happens if the idea is more refined, has time to germinate. From the events I attended as part of my participatory ethnography (Puma, Siemens) and viewing and data-mining the #LexusInstaFilm footage, creating an event around a product brings a social engagement to the non-professional mobile photographer that so far (I say ‘so far’ because moving from work-for-perk to a financial compensation model could alter the relationship) carries some of the values found in Philip’s Paradigm in Value Creation such as self actualisation, meaningful contribution, enabling creativity and the pursuit of aspirations. In this way my research question which asked if brands and Instagram are presenting a quality of experience ‘tax’ while capturing the intimate moments of our lives is loaded and complex. If the event gives the smartphone photographer more meaning through the work/creativity/socialising, then how is this taxing? But if he chooses to go to the event because there is an opportunity to be part of a Lexus commercial instead of sharing time with the family then this is also something that smartphone photography, brands and Instagram have created. An amateur photographer would not have had the access to shoot for a car commercial in the past nor could a smartphone photographer approaching Lexus on their own and gain access, unless as the future research will examine, they bring with them a follower base reaching the hundreds of thousands. Being brand ‘sponsored’ in order to acquire photography for marketing purposes makes me feel somewhat cynical, although during my time of participating I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Mariane Hope of www.seemycity.com says she seems to have struck a balance. She often photographs her family in what she calls ‘personal’ and ‘Instagram’ imagery. It is here, in the making of room in one’s life for images that are created with Instagram in mind, that an interesting direction forward presents itself, as we become more aware we are shooting for an audience.

Our current commissions to bring smartphone photography workshops to Leeds Castle and The London Transport Museum show that what exists right now is a curiosity - to see where this technology as communication form may lead. In its most basic service it brings a new tool to communicate the common branding rhetoric. But there is an excitement in the air around the use of these technologies and so as a practice through Disturbia I find in all its complexities and awkwardness, its pace of change and multiple platforms of inclusion and exclusion to be as thrilling as riding a wave. My original learning model which brought me here, the practice travelling along an x-axis to convergence with Disturbia, where I passed through the nexus of my triangulation to be greeted with a host of outcomes has in itself been a worthwhile journey. Moving forward I slide from smartphone photography to Instagram, to agency (Eye Eye Eye), and will see what lies ahead. As the graphic opposite shows, my research has brought a lens to illuminate a variety of possible paths forward. Through the ongoing research the practice has changed, I have changed. My evaluation of photography has shifted, the seriousness and exclusivity that I once held about it has all but evaporated. The creation of an image is enjoyed and achieved with such perfection now and by so many. While in my seat as curator on my website created for this research,www. thehashtagofman, sifting through over 6100 images to date, investigating talented portfolios to feature once a week for twenty-seven weeks, has given me a privileged view of what the non-commercial photographer can visually achieve and the changing currency of the photographic image because of that. Eye Eye Eye will now be an exploration reaching out from this new perspective and going to a place I know not yet where. Exciting opitions lay ahead.



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SEE MY CITY (2013) [Online] Available from: http://www.seemycity.com. [Accessed: 30th May 2013]

18th June 2013] SEE WHAT I MEAN. (2013) Say more with images. [Online] Available from http://www.seewhatimean.co.uk/#about. [Accessed: 7th GRUPE, K. (2013) #thehashtagofman. [Online] Available from: http://thehashtagofman.com. [Accessed: 12th August 2013]

September 2013]

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[Accessed: 20th January 2013]

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post/36359968655/thanksgiving-day-on-instagram. [Accessed: 23rd December 2012].

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INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE. (2013) What is a brand? [Online] 28th May 2013. Available from: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/

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Hashtag projects #Olympicswithouttickets #shoppingcartportraits #goldsmithssocietyproject @tilt_gold #thehashtagofman #Thehashtagofman (summer soulstice shoot) #lindtfunone #missionitspossiblecodeone #designfutures

Profile for Karl Grupe

Disturbia - Researching the Relationship between Brands, Instagram and Amateur Photographers.  

Masters of Research in Design dissertation ©karlgrupe 2013 ABSTRACT. This has been a two year participatory, auto-ethnographical practic...

Disturbia - Researching the Relationship between Brands, Instagram and Amateur Photographers.  

Masters of Research in Design dissertation ©karlgrupe 2013 ABSTRACT. This has been a two year participatory, auto-ethnographical practic...

Profile for karlgrupe