Hipster Filters

Instagram. The genesis of the trend of applying fake lomo filters to your photographs. And more. Much much more. You can make your photo brown, you can blow the highlights, you can add a fake photo frame. Basically you can obscure the contents of the actual photo all the while making it look like it came from a camera of yesteryear. It’s so popular that Facebook bought Instagram for one billion dollars.

Filters bug me. It annoys me that they obscure the actual photo. It’s like trying to listen to classical music through a waterfall. Like watching television through a beer bottle. Like playing virtual virtual skeeball.

Why would you do this to your precious photos?

There are plenty of good reasons. Like that it’s not about taking photos, it’s about Instagram being a very intimate and highly enjoyable social network. Fine. On the flipside, these filters are applied at the cost of your memories. Back in the old world, some people used to believe that having a photo taken would steal their soul. In the new world, I posit this: applying a hipster filter to your photo steals the soul of the photo. Ten years from now you’ll regret applying those filters. Trust me.

I understand the attraction, though. The human condition is a bitch. Things don’t always work out like we wanted them to. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this, was it? If coach woulda put me in fourth quarter, we’d have been state champions. No doubt. No doubt in my mind. You better believe things had been different. I’d have gone pro in a heartbeat. I’d be making millions of dollars and living in a big ol’ mansion somewhere, soaking it up in a hot tub with my soul mate. Life should’ve been better.

But this is it. And it’s sometimes bleak and grey and dull and out of focus and sad, and if I just apply this warming filter and lomo effect it improves the memory. All my friends on Facebook who look so happy in their pictures and everything on their timeline is so nice and their lives really worked out for them wow I wish my life was like that but now with this quaint lomo effect they’ll see my pictures and they’ll see THEY’LL SEE how great my own memories are, how much fun I’m having. They’ll see that my life worked out too!

Now where did I put that box of wine?

Responses to “Hipster Filters”

  1. James says:

    I’m a bit in between on filters. I don’t use them too often, but they really have a way of dramatically improving dramatically bad photos.

    It’s like vodka. Cheap vodka is unacceptable, but cheap flavored vodka is usually acceptable.

  2. I believe as graphic designers we understand the importance of an undoctored image, but in reality a lot of the photos I see (from my friends at least) aren’t memories that they’re going to care to look back on someday and wish they never modified. They’re photos of their breakfast that they enhanced with these filters.

  3. Joen says:

    Perhaps I should clarify that it’s not that I’m necessarily a “filter abolitionist”, but rather that the above post simply clarifies what I feel about them.

  4. Filters seemed stupid to me at first, but honestly they’re fun. I tend to use filters to try and improve my crappy phone pictures, but they can also change the mood of the photo all together. And not always for the better. Also, Instagram can save the “un-filtered” photo to your camera roll.

    I keep using Instagram, not for the hip filters, but because its the easiest way for me to share a folder across Facebook, twitter, my website, and Instagram.

  5. pictures are always a filter. cell phone cameras (iPhones included) have crappy sensors and awful pinhole lenses. might as well give the pictures some warm faux-analog distortion, to mask the absolutely awful real digital artifacts.

    • Joen says:

      That’s a pretty fascinating point.

      I don’t agree completely as the filters often obscure the contents of the photographs. It’s obviously a personal taste thing.

  6. blastedgoat says:

    I’m all about big, sexy, unedited photographs. I don’t own a smart phone but I have a 3DS that takes crap photos… I like to manipulate bad shots in collages and then I might use a filter but I prefer opening Photoshop or even a free version of online software to play around with the image and create something out of… well, crap. I always have the untouched original along with better composed shots of the same subject (hopefully) because I do find that over time those effects can become cheesy and outdated. That can also add to their charm, or it can make you want to barf. Depends.

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