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Everything You Wanted To Know About Instagram

This photo was altered by using Instagram

Intern Kiersten Daly with Taylor Swift

This post was written by an intern who works for me because she is an expert on Instagram. So many of you have asked me why Instagram is so popular. Kiersten Daly spells it out. I have included a picture of Kiersten because she got up at 4am this morning to see Taylor Swift in concert on Good Morning America. She was one of hundreds who arrived outside of ABC’s studios waiting to meet the mega star.

By Kiersten Daly

Many of you may be wondering what Instagram is and what is the point of it? Plain and simple, it is a fun and interesting way to vamp up your pictures and share them with friends and family. That is called social media photo-sharing. Instagram is now officially owned by Facebook. With the touch of a few, easily identifiable, buttons on Instagram, you can instantly change the appearance of your picture and post it on the Instagram site for all of your followers, or friends, to see. Followers are the people that are connected with your Instagram site.

Similar to Facebook, you look up family members or friends and request to follow their page so that you can see their profile, pictures, and other information that they choose to share. In return, those people will usually ‘follow’ your page. Followers are a simple way of stating, “I agree to follow what’s going on with your life and I will look at your pictures that you want to share with me.” You can make pictures look older, enhance them, make them different colors, blur out background images that you don’t want in the picture, crop them and much more!

What started out as a simple idea quickly transformed into a system utilized by Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Android , and of course the iPhone and the iPad. Each system mentioned above has Instagram installed or available for download. By clicking on the Instagram icon or link you can log in and begin to take pictures or load previously taken pictures onto the site and share them with all of your followers. This fun product captures events with snapshots that will make memories last a lifetime. Instagram allows you to take all kinds of pictures and transform them into a more beautiful image than you started with, thanks to the various filters available to change the look of the photo. Capture the Eiffel Tower in France, the Statue of Liberty in New York City, or a day out with your grandchildren, and have a unique picture to last a lifetime.

Users have the option to ‘hashtag’ photos as well. This universal popular symbol, #, attaches itself to a word or phrase to categorize similar topics on a subject together so that it can be easily searched. This gives other users the ability to know what the photo is about or where the photo was taken. For instance, if a person were to hashtag one of their photos #NYC, than when you search that topic, their picture will appear. It makes things easier when trying to group pictures together under a specific topic. Yet, if you don’t want people other than your friends and family to be able to view your pictures, you can make your Instagram profile private. People will have to ask permission to follow your photos and those without permission cannot see anything on your profile.

The pictures can also be easily uploaded to your computer to print out and hang up or store until a later time. Using the explore option; you can look up family members and friends to follow their page when they share photos as well. You can also look up a specific topic or theme. By typing in the topic you are interested in, numerous pictures come up that relate to your topic. You can enjoy other users pictures of places you may want to see, ideas you may be interested in for yourself, and even inspirational sayings to help you through a difficult day. Once you start, you’ll never want to stop.

What’s The Story With Instagram?

I don’t know about you, but I do not have any artistic talent. I can’t draw, paint, or sculpt. I always wanted to, but just don’t have the skills to create something that would be worthy of showing in public until now.

Along comes Instagram, a free photo sharing application for both iPhone and Android, which allows you to apply a digital filter to your mobile pictures that changes the entire look of the composition.

You can now create photos that just two years ago you could only do using expensive digital photo editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop.

Yesterday, I discussed how my cousin Milo changed the look of his photos with a new filter being offered by Olympus on their digital cameras. When I saw what he was doing, I quickly dug out my two year old digital camera — the Panasonic Lumix — to see if I could do the same thing. I abandoned my camera over a year ago when I found myself using the iPhone for most of my photo needs. As I quickly found out, since most of these filter features are so new, my two year old digital camera was now outdated.

Once again, a smartphone app comes to the rescue. There are many apps being offered today on iOS and Android formats that allow you to creatively alter photographs. One of the most popular apps is Instagram.  Instagram became widely popular because it offered the amateur picture taker the opportunity to alter photos in a number of different ways and instantly exhibit them on Twitter and Facebook. While Instagram photos can’t compete with the shots cousin Milo takes with his Olympus camera, it certainly is perfect for the average smartphone user who wants to get creative.

I guess that is why Facebook paid $1 Billion to purchase Instagram this past April.

Click on Instagram (shaded) above for some amazing facts about the company.

Straight shot taken by David Nieves

With Instagram’s Amaro Filter

Straight shot by David Nieves

With Instagram’s X Pro Filter

Become A Photo Artist

Milo Hess

I just spent the last five days with my cousin Milo Hess, a well-respected and published photographer, who taught me something new about picture-taking. Many of our digital cameras have a “filter” feature that allows us to alter the look of the photos we are taking. Milo takes photos that look they they were hand-painted. They are stunning and look like art pieces (check out the photos below). Milo, who is titled as an “Olympus Visionary” for the camera company’s social media department, explained how the  process works. He uses the “Olympus Dramatic Tone Filter,” one of the art filters built in to certain Olympus cameras. I am sure you can find a similar feature on your own digital camera. Check the instruction book.

Milo said at the turn of a dial or a press of a button, the “Olympus Dramatic Tone filter” lifts the contrast, color, and saturation to create a unique, almost HDR (high dynamic range) look. He said that the setting is not for every photo situation, but when used for certain images it’s, well, very dramatic.  That is why Instagram, the iPhone and Android application that Facebook bought for a billion dollars earlier this year, is so popular. It helps change the entire complexion of the photograph.

For more info go to olympusamerica.com

A Little About Milo

A graduate of Pratt Institute and the High School of Art and Design in NYC, Milo has been a multi-faceted member of the NYC design community for over 30 years.The winner of over 35 design awards — including 5 NY Area Emmy Awards for his work in broadcast design — Milo has been an art director/designer for WCBS TV, Fox 5 and WPIX TV News over the years. He designed the original on-air look  of  NY1 News for Time Warner Cable for which he received an Emmy. 

Most recently he has been the art director for a PR/Business Communications agency, Magnet Communications (HAVAS Advertising) where he designed graphics for meetings/events, promotion and written copy for Fortune 100 companies.

He is also an accomplished photographer, having his 9/11 photographs in the permanent collection of the NY Public Library as well as other images in Popular Photography magazine. Currently, he is shooting freelance journalism for The Downtown Express, Chelsea NOW and The Villager NYC weekly newspapers. He was awarded 2009 First Place Award for Spot News from The NY State Press Association. Recently, he was named an Olympus Visionary pro photographer by Olympus America and is a social media photography critic.

As a freelance designer… his recent projects include corporate  meeting/ graphics/marketing design for Fortune 100 corporations including Johnson & Johnson, Ortho McNeil, Pfizer, Novartis, Canon, Aventis, IBM, Citigroup, Dish Network, Sony among others. Milo has licensed his graphic art  to Villeroy & Boch, the European lifestyle conglomerate for a line of ceramic pet products as well as a line of stationery for teNeues Publishing and bookmarks for Antioch Publishing. The father of two grown children, native New Yorker Milo resides in Tribeca with Elle and their tuxedo cat Oreo

SHARING VIDEOS PREDICTED TO BE THE NEXT BIG TREND IN SOCIAL MEDIA

Unless you were hiding under a rock a few weeks ago, you had to have read that Facebook bought a smartphone photo-sharing app called Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock. It made page one news in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Every TV news station covered it. What made the story so remarkable was that Instagram is a two-year-old San Francisco-based company. Yes, just founded two years ago and it was bought for a record breaking sum. That is why the Internet is so sexy and appealing to everyone who understands the dynamics of the digital world. This little baby company came up with the concept of an easy way to snap a photo, chose a filter to transform its look, and then use Instagram to post it on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. 

Facebook immediately saw a synergy between its business model and what Instagram was all about. At the end of last year, Facebook reported that 250 million photos a day were being posted on its platform. In its SEC filings, Facebook also noted that its members spend nearly one-fifth of their time browsing other people’s photos. Instagram was a natural and most desired fit. 

Mobile apps like Instagram are aimed at people of all ages, but I personally feel that every parent or grandparent should download the app so you can share more with members of the family and friends everywhere. This is a wonderful and fun way of keeping in touch. Now, get ready for something brand new. Internet forecaster Gary Vaynerchuk is predicting that video sharing is the next big thing. It’s also a natural. Gary is the one who predicted that Facebook would buy Instagram.  Now Gary is saying that YouTube is going to buy Viddy or Socialcam because those apps allow users to shoot or capture a video, edit it, and privately or publicly share it with the world at large. Both apps upload to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Gary is quick to point out that what Instagram did for phone-shot photos, Viddy and Socialcam are going to do for videos. 

Consider yourself well informed after you click on Gary’s video blog called The Next Wave, which appears on The Daily, the first of its kind national news publication built exclusively as an application for touch screens and emerging digital platforms. The Daily is currently available on the iPad, iPhone, and select Verizon Samsung tablets. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpahiDOwUMs

THE MIRACLES OF DIGITAL FUNDRAISING

It is amazing how the world has changed. When we were growing up, we were expected to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, accountant, secretary or something where the foundation of the business was well established. All we had to be is smart enough to jump on the already established bandwagon. If we told our parents we wanted to become writers, musicians, inventors or artists of any kind, they would go directly to a house of worship and pray to their higher power to give us proper guidance. 

I know you are chuckling reading this, because it happened to all of us, whether rich or poor. Our parents wanted us either in the family business or settled somewhere they didn’t have to worry about. 

Jump forward 40 to 50 years. Today, parents are asking children, “Why can’t you be one of those geniuses who invent something on the Internet? Do you want to work for the rest of your life and report to a boss who will use and abuse you? “ 

Times have certainly changed. Today hundreds, if not thousands of 20 and 30 year olds are all trying to be the next Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Steve Jobs (Apple) and Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger (Instagram).  Even if someone has a job, their minds are working overtime to come up with that one idea that is going to allow them to make a lot of money and sit at home in their pj’s all day. 

A lot of the young creative types were dissuaded over the years, because venture capitalists and angel investors require a lot of paper work and financial proof that proposed business models are going to work.  Raising money is more difficult than creating and building the invention.  You have to stand in front of the suits to prove that your idea was more worthy than the thousands of other proposals they’ve seen before. 

All that has changed as noted in the front page of the New York Times today. Kickstarter, a website that raises money from the public (the digital term is crowd funding) for creative projects (films, music, games, food projects and digital inventions, etc.). raised over $7 million in just a few days for The Pebble, a watch that was developed to work with the iPhone. You have to read the story to see how the money came pouring in. http://nyti.ms/Ixx1gj . If you know anything about fundraising, you would quickly realize that the money raised by Kickstarter for The Pebble was equivalent to a second round of capital financing. That means that The Pebble didn’t have to prove itself like others to command millions of dollars.

Kickstarter is one of those ideas that most investment people probably thought was not a going to work. Who is going to give money to a project online? Guess what? Kickstarter has raised more than $200 million for 20,000 projects so far, or about 44 percent of those that sought financing on the site. Kickstarter takes 5% of the funds raised. Amazon charges an additional 3-5%. The entire evolution of Kickstarter is amazing and what they did for The Pebble is nothing short of a miracle of the digital world.  You have to digest what I just told you about and think to yourself, “Who would have ever thought?”