Novelty and Narrative on Instagram

image from instagram feed of pchyburrs

I’ve posted before about how I love instagram as a creative outlet – a forum to learn, practice photography, and glimpse faraway places. But I also love instagram as a place to be surprised and amazed by the creativity of others. The instagram posts of Pchyburrs and Chibichibin never disappoint. They go beyond photography and into the territory of illustration and story telling. Through careful staging, editing or both, they create images that are novel, thrilling, and clever. Narrative images that make me pause and think. Images that soar and delight.

image from instagram feed of chibchibin

Instagram as creative outlet


In the year since Facebook paid $1billion for it, Instagram has been much maligned. People roll their eyes, believing its nothing more than a haven for narcissists, cat lovers, and the mean girls of middle school.

But I love Instagram. Really love it. Admittedly, it can be just another vehicle for over-sharing –  there are plenty of photos of breakfast bagels, lunchtime frittatas, and the like. Yet, its also home to boundless creativity, much cleverness and breathtaking beauty.

You just have to find the right people to follow. Some share simply beautiful photos, others add clever captions to lovely images, still others cobble together arresting images from photos and the myriad photo editing apps available.

Thoughtful editing makes the difference. This means taking the time to construct an image through cropping, rotating, adding filters, blur, and many other techniques I haven’t yet learned. This means prepping an image for instagram is a creative process. Yes, you can do all these things in photoshop, but the immediacy of taking a photo, editing and sharing, all from my phone, has me entranced.

For a while, instagram was my only creative outlet. I craved the times when I could sit silently and edit a photo, my fingers flicking across the screen, my mind abuzz with possibility, as I tried moving the horizon, blurring the horizon, cropping, adding filters, taking filters away and so on. Sometimes I would throw an image out, after trying for 10 minutes to make it into something worthwhile, an image that could capture a mood, tell a story, or simply be beautiful. Process, not product.

I’ve begun to take better photos; I see the world differently; and I’ve added the word bokeh to my vocabulary, even if I cannot yet use it effectively. But honestly, I’m not here to prattle on sanctimoniously about a community of creativity, only to say really, people, Instagram isn’t only for selfies, it can be a quick, portable and exhillarating creative outlet.