I will be the first to admit that I was not one of the early adopters of Instagram (I did join in November 2010). This was mainly due to the fact I had a cell phone at the time that did not support apps and the camera was not overly user friendly. I believe I started using Instagram while I still had my iPod touch and with that I only dabbled in it once and a while. That all changes though when I stepped up to my iPhone 4 in the summer of 2010 and I found the ease of the camera and apps more inviting and thus I jumped on board this photo sharing community.
Now I have my own beliefs and philosophies regarding social media and in particular photo sharing site like Instagram, Tadaa and Streamzoo. The first is I try and follow those whose work I truly admire. I don't always return a follow just because someone follows me, unless they are a true follower giving regular likes and the odd comment. When I see this I believe we have developed a bond and thus we are peers and this is more important to me. I would rather have a small number of peers, those who enjoy my work, rather than 1000's of followers. Now not all those whom I follow, follow me back but I keep them as I enjoy their photographs.
As to liking I believe that once I am following you and that work is fairly consistent and appealing I will give likes on most of the images you post. This is only fair and this is why I follow you. It is sad though that only 5 to 10% of followers actually like the work of those that they follow. I'm not expecting this number to be in the 90% range or higher, but 50 - 60% is where I believe it should be.
As to the images I post, I personally try to show interesting work that I am doing. I also look to have a bit of variety to what I display and will only post a few photo's at a time. I want people to look at my work and see a consistent and strong body of work and see that I am challenging myself to be a better photographer. I don't believe in the scatter gun approach to posting 100's of images a day, nor multiple shots of the same subject. Quality over quantity was something I was brought up to believe in all aspects of my life.
Now is Instagram the future of photo sharing or just a hot fad for the moment? While it is true that it has been around since November 2010 it has mostly taken flight in the last year. This also coincides with it's availability for Android devices and with it's reason take over by Facebook. This has only added to the proliferation of images on the web and some may say "fluff or garbage". There are those who say it is ruining photography, I on the other hand says it just gives another way to express ourselves, albeit simply.
Whether it is a fad or a tool will be decided by the individual user. For those who are just scatter gunning it will be a fad and they will move on to the next thing that allows them to share their lives with the world. For those of use who see it, and camera phones in general, as just another tool to help us achieve our vision it will be around for a long time. We can use it to network, promote and get feed back from our peers. The only thing that can ruin it for us are the powers who develop and control Instagram and the way we are able to use it. If they drop the ball another new thing will start up and replace it.
Recently a video has gone viral that expresses the state of Instagram in society in a light hearted way. ( http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6853117/look-at-this-instagram-nickelback-parody ) While there is a lot of truth in it I remember an incident when I was young that sort of adds a different perspective. When I started as the photographer/reporter for my college basketball team I remember being teased by the players after traveling with them on a couple road trips. When I talked to the coach he told me that meant the guys had accepted me as part of the team. In some ways this parody poking fun at it is in a way showing the acceptance of Instagram in our culture.
Now to my photo of the day. This leaf was on the front driveway as new snow was falling. I snapped it from a couple of different angles before moving on.