Instagram, the new billion dollar sinking ship?

Much tribulation over the new set of incoming terms and conditions from photo sharing website Instagram. Many friends posting [me included] their thoughts on the fiasco... I've been thinking about it over night and this is what I've come up with - for today.

I am a strong supporter of photographers rights, that said...

First and foremost - we have to remember that Instagram is a 'billion dollar business' for someone... Someone / a group of someone's paid a cack load of cash for the photo sharing website and we've been using it for free since October 2010.

Instagram need to have a revenue stream - they need to be making 'the big buck' to get those investors back their cash... So they need a basic money making model, right? Now you could say there are three basic models they could roll with...

  1. Make us pay to download Instagram from the various app stores. Still free.
  2. Stick annoying ads in our stream - which some services like Ink361 already do (and it's fine) Still Ad Free.
  3. Turn themselves into a massive stock library with no lines drawn between images taken by a full time professional or a 7 year old kid.... Yeah, there you go.

They chose option three (you can read the entire agreement here)

You can also read Kevin's note to y'all here... It went live a little bit ago..

Option three allows them to advertise with your images - cross promote with the cash splashing Facebook big daddy momma company... AND, the bit that most of my friends are screaming blue murder about, they're going to sell your precious Instagrams to a third party... Or, that's what it sounded like, right?

OK, so even if that IS what they're going to do, they're only going to take images that you've previously not made any money from and sell them to their benefit... Whilst that's not in keeping with the Photographer's Mojo, it serves a purpose....

Let's have a quick technical look at this... [very quick!]

This image which I like to call 'Beached' is a modest 85kb... ComScore says about 7.3 Million people use Instagram, daily... Let's be conservative and say a quarter of them upload a photo... 1,825,000 people... Let's be conservative and say the images are 50kb (I'm using an iPhone 5...) that's about 90gb per day.. not a load, but it all adds up.

630gb a week or about 32 Terrabytes a year... Not a whole lot... Then you have network / load balancing / accounts etc.... Not a hell of a lot of overhead there right now... A drop in the proverbial digital ocean compared with Facebook / Flickr etc... None of that matters.

The purpose is that they wanna get paid.

And, reality is they NEED to get paid.... I want to continue sharing my images on Instagram, and those for my client. Instagram have NOT laid crazy claim to your copyright, they only want to dip their tiny little Mr. burns like claws in to your previously un-monitised photo stream and buy a few cool beverages... Great...

How many photographers do you know that are HAPPY about working for free? None... You pay for your albums, your prints, your computers, your hard drives... Why should you post your work online, advertise yourself (or in my case, myself and two clients) and not front up some cash for it??

We might not like it, but stuff costs....

I'm going to keep my Instagram account and I'll advise my clients to do the same... If I see a photo of myself on a billboard in NYC with the caption "Get mental help today" then, well, I'll reconsider...