How Instagram drained my creativity

While I was focusing on things like the number of followers, engagement and reach, Instagram drained my creativity. Here’s how my love for photography helped.

Ferry on Lake Maggiore

My efforts went into keeping my Instagram grid fed with pictures, no matter what. But having to think about the do’s and don’ts of Instagram is very tiring, and my passion for photography waned. It took me a long time to understand that I was in a loop. The gratifications I received made me believe that sticking to a specific subject and style was the right choice. Whenever I wanted to make a change, my creativity was satisfied, but Instagram’s algorithm was never on my side.

Sails on Lake Maggiore

Whether I posted consistently or not, commented on other people’s posts or not, kept my stories updated or not, nothing changed. The stream of follow-to-unfollow accounts never stopped, and I always end up with the same number of followers.

Entrance door
Entrance door

I took a step back and started taking longer breaks from the social network. I only checked in to stay in contact with dear friends I found there: they’re the main reason I didn’t close my account.

Focus on Photography

A few months ago, I bought a 35mm prime lens. I thought it would have helped me achieving higher quality shots and improving storytelling; however, the new gear wasn’t as straightforward to use as I thought.

I read technical articles and reviews, eventually ending up watching video tutorials on how to use some Adobe Lightroom tools I didn’t even know existed. Once again, the technical side of creativity captivated me and reminded me why I love photography. Without even fully realising it, I was reorganising my Lightroom catalogue and applying new edits to older photos.

Our sensitivity changes over time and, as time passes, our perception of the past changes with it. Looking back and making new interpretations of older pictures is something I do once or twice a year.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, I don’t have a recipe that will take people out of a creativity rut and, every time it happened to me, I took different actions. This time, watching videos of how other photographers approach their work did the trick. Having a new lens also meant that I need to learn how to use it appropriately to achieve the results I have in mind. The only way to make progress is to check other people’s work and practice a lot.

I put Instagram into perspective. It is, after all, merely one social network. Focusing on numbers drains creativity and makes us forget why we take and post pictures. I took the photos in this post during the past two visits to Lake Maggiore, and applied new edits. The lens I used was still the kit one, which did a decent job anyway. Below is the list of the videos I watched:

Photos © Silvia Maggi

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