You Don’t Have to Be Ansel Adams

When my brother was visiting last weekend, he asked why I wasn’t on Instagram.

Apparently – even though I’m in charge of my company’s social media postings (managing the feeds not only for my employer, but for all our members who have signed up for the service, as well), and am in fact giving a presentation on “social media success” to a room full of people at our upcoming business symposium in September – I know next to nothin’ ’bout social media. Because I really had no idea what Instagram was, even though it’s been a pretty popular site for a couple of years now.

When people first started sharing photos on Instagram, I thought, What’s up with all these crappy pictures that people are taking? They’re faded and grainy, like they were taken in 1978. I have photo albums chock full of pictures that I’m too embarrassed to share because they’re faded and grainy and look like they were taken in 1978. Hell, some of them probably were taken in 1978. I didn’t realize at the time that the whole point of Instagram is to share pictures that are faded and grainy and look like they were taken in 1978. Silly me, I thought photographs were supposed to look clear and sharp. The more pixels, the better. Right? So I didn’t “get” Instagram (much like I didn’t “get” Pinterest until I tried it).

Other things I didn’t “get” until much later: Kindles, Justin Timberlake, “Lost,” and broccoli.

I saw no reason to sign up for Instagram. After all, I have a perfectly good Flickr account that I haven’t uploaded a new picture to in over two years. Did I really need another photo-sharing account (this one with low-quality pictures, to boot) that I would sign up for and then summarily ignore? I thought not. But Scott was insistent, so I figured, what the hell. It wouldn’t cost a dime, and if I didn’t like it, I could simply delete my account. No harm, no foul. Saturday morning, I pulled up (lucky guess!!)…and found I couldn’t even create an account online. It has to be done over your mobile phone. Fortunately, my mobile phone follows me everywhere. (And I do mean everywhere. I made a drunken admission to Tara not long ago that I have, in the past, played a whole game of cribbage v. a computer generated opponent on there from the comfort of the toilet seat. I was mortified to have said as much afterwards, but my secret was out by then and I couldn’t very well take it back).

Must be a bitch to lug around. (Courtesy of
Must be a bitch to lug around. (Courtesy of

Anyhoo, the point is, I did sign up for an Instagram account. And almost immediately got the appeal. You know those faded and grainy photos that look like they were taken in 1978? They’re great, because they take all the pressure off! With Instagram, you don’t have to be Ansel freakin’ Adams. Imperfections, it turns out, are cherished. (What a great philosophy for life, huh? Attitudes like that could prevent war and crime and extinguish hatred. Dare to dream). With my love of all things retro, I should have embraced Instagram from the start. After all, I’m the one dying for avocado green appliances! It’s a natural fit for my the-60s-and-70s-were-better sensibilities. The other nice thing about Instagram is, it’s the perfect vehicle for sharing your daily life. You don’t have to post pictures of snowcapped mountains or stunning sunsets. In fact, the more mundane, the better. My brother took a photo of the purple toilet water in our guest bathroom and threatened to post that on Instagram, but has yet to follow through. I say, go for it! That way, people are getting an intimate glimpse into our daily lives that they would otherwise not have. Captions are cool, but you don’t have to add them if you don’t want to. Same goes for hash tags, and commenting on a photo. If you like a picture, you can press a heart-shaped button. It’s a very basic platform, but it’s that simplicity I find most appealing. Instagram doesn’t take up a lot of time, unlike Facebook, which can suck you into a black hole for hours. Take a photo with your phone, tap a single button, and it’s uploaded for the whole world to see. Groovy.

So, I’m hooked. Feel free to follow me here. I’d love to follow you back, even if you post pictures of purple toilet water. Especially if you post pictures of purple toilet water.

I’d also like to give a shout out to my soon-to-be wife, who surprised the hell out of me by posting a blog entry last night. It had been so long, I’d forgotten she even had a blog. “I got an update from ‘Tara Piece of Paper,'” I said when it popped up in my feeder. “Clever title. And I love her name. Tara, just like you.”

Err, well, it was her. And I might be exaggerating a little, but it has been awhile since she posted. Seven months and some odd change, to be exact. But who’s counting? Anyway, feel free to catch up with Tara here.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

6 thoughts on “You Don’t Have to Be Ansel Adams

  1. Frankly. I’m a little scared of Instagram. I already had a close call with the gateway drug of social media, Facebook, and have found a very comfortable place here in the methadone of cyberspace and have never been to Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter.

    I have a Flickr account and I got invited by Getty… scares me to death. What if they want something I need a property release to sell? I’ll have to rent lawyers and stuff… yikes! My cellphone isn’t hooked up to a data plan even though its capable. because I just want a phone. And if I’m going to take pictures, I’m using my DSLR and if I’m uploading them to anything, I’m going to upload them here and build a story around them. I just want a simple life, that’s all. I do find cellphotography a very fertile young art, though.


    1. I hear ya on the DSLR thing. My kids looked at me incredulously when I whipped out the camera during our camping trip two weeks ago. “People still use those things?!” they ask. Umm…yeah. When they want good quality photos. My newfound love for Instagram notwithstanding, I’ll always prefer my camera.


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