Articles about "Instagram"

ProPublica releases simple tool for searching Instagram


ProPublica news application developer Al Shaw discovered an Instagram API that lets you search by both time and geographic coordinates — “a perfect way to see who’s at a certain place at a certain time,” Shaw writes.

He built a simple tool called QIS, or Quick Instagram Search, that journalists could use to find Instagram photos at newsworthy events. “Just having fun with it, we found a lot of interesting stuff,” he said in a phone call with Poynter. “Anything you could type into Google Maps would work.”

One example from Shaw’s post: a photo of the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15 minutes before it was bombed. QIS could conceivably help newsrooms verify photos from breaking news events. Read more

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NYT’s front-page Instagram: Maybe not the end of photography

Nick Laham | The New York Times | Business Insider | The Wall Street Journal

Nick Laham “took what space I could get and worked with it” to capture of New York Yankees players on the team’s photo day.

So yes. That was me in the locker room bathroom shooting portraits of the New York Yankees players with my iPhone.

He processed the photos with Instagram, and one ended up on the front of The New York Times Sunday:

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Instagram changes terms of service, but will pro photographers flee anyway?

Instagram | Read Write Web | Time | The Verge
Instagram says it’s going to delete language from its new terms of service that caused widespreading out-freaking across the Internet.

The language we proposed … raised [the] question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question.

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Twitter-Instagram photo war reveals new business realities of social networks

The photo-sharing turf war is escalating, with Twitter copying Instagram-like features and Instagram (owned by Facebook) no longer making its photos viewable within tweets.

No matter which company wins, users will lose.

It seems time to just accept that Facebook and Twitter’s forget-about-money-and-put-users-first startup phase is over. Both companies are pivoting hard toward monetization and market-share protection as their primary goals.

Promoted tweets and sponsored stories are filling up timelines and news feeds. Facebook Page owners are relentlessly pestered to fork over cash for better visibility of their posts. And third-party developers are increasingly being disempowered.

The networks have shifted focus from creating value to capturing value. And to capture value, they each feel the need to lock users into their own platforms and reduce integration, thus limiting competition.

A quick history of the photo-sharing wars

In 2011, Twitter launched its own photo hosting and sharing service, rather than rely on third parties like Yfrog or Twitpic.

After trying and failing to dominate the market with its own Facebook Camera mobile app, Facebook was willing to pay $1 billion – over $28 per user at the time —  to acquire Instagram this year.

In July, Twitter stopped letting Instagram users sync their Twitter friends list with the service.

Twitter now plans, perhaps by the end of the year, to launch photo filters that would mimic Instagram’s popular feature. And Instagram just decided to stop letting Twitter show its photos embedded inside tweets. Tweets can still link to an Instagram picture, but the user will have to open the link in a Web browser to view it.

Writing at GigaOM, Mathew Ingram surmises that Twitter is motivated by “ambitions as a media entity,” which means it “is trying hard to monetize or at least to exert some control over content that is being created by other companies, whether it’s Instagram or The New York Times.”

Implications for journalism

Ingram concludes with questions for news organizations and other media:

I think moves like Instagram has made should get more media companies thinking hard about the relationship they have with Twitter. It is not just a conduit for your content to reach your users whenever and wherever you wish (if it ever was) — it is a proprietary network built by a company with monetization and expansion on its mind, and your content is part of that equation. What are you getting out of it and why? And will that change in the future as Twitter’s mission and vision evolve? And what will you do if it does?

That’s probably correct. However, it is also unavoidable. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are dominant players in social media, and you have to play with them if you want to be in the game.

This bargain reminds me of a scene from “The Godfather,” in which Don Corleone declines to join Virgil Sollozzo in his heroin business:

I want to congratulate you on your new business and I’m sure you’ll do very well and good luck to you. Especially since your interests don’t conflict with mine.

Social networks are great partners for news and media, and even for other social networks, as long as your interests don’t conflict with theirs. Read more

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Instagram breaks records during Hurricane Sandy

Giga OM | GizmodoForbes | TimeNew York Times
As we suspected in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, the storm and its aftermath became the most-Instagrammed news event ever with more than 800,000 photos posted.

Gizmodo blogger Sam Biddle argues that it’s unethical for people to use tragic events as fodder for their Instagram photos. He says it

“…becomes a gross, crass way for people to shellack their poor taste and poorer judgment across the face of tragedy. The reality of a natural disaster is shocking and compelling enough without augmenting its color. A flooded supermarket or a demolished apartment don’t need boosted contrast. They stand on their own.”

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Instagram users are posting 10 Hurricane Sandy pictures every second

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom tells us via a spokeswoman: “There are now 10 pictures per second being posted with the hashtag #sandy — most are images of people prepping for the storm and images of scenes outdoors.”

The total photos posted as of now:

PandoDaily’s Sara Lacy asks whether “Hurricane Sandy … could be Instagram’s big citizen journalism moment.” Read more


How to curate Instagram by reposting newsworthy photos

Instagram is becoming synonymous with smartphone photography, with over 50 million users and 5 million more joining every week. Those users have snapped more than 1 billion photos of pets, nature or food, and also some news.

In some ways Instagram is a visual Twitter — the go-to app for reporting (with a photo instead of 140 text characters) what’s happening now. We’re used to Twitter breaking news, and now Instagram is gathering newsy eyewitness photos.

But Instagram lacks a function like Twitter’s retweet to curate and spread the newsworthy bits across the network. Fortunately, there’s another way.

Breaking News reposted this photo from a Colorado wildfire using Statigram.

Statigram, one of several third-party interfaces that make mobile-focused Instagram accessible on the Web, invented a “repost” function.

Breaking News is using this to curate major news photos on its own Instagram account with more than 32,000 followers.

Breaking News started a few weeks ago with a dramatic photo of Venus passing in front of the Sun. Since then it has reposted at least 15 other photos of fires, floods and iconic news photos from people who were in the right place at the right time.

Last week’s massive Waldo Canyon wildfire near Colorado Springs, Colo., was a great example of when Instagram can become a news source. About an hour after the fire erupted there were 1,300 photos tagged #waldocanyonfire, Breaking News General Manager Cory Bergman told me. When he checked a half-hour later, there were 1,700. (Now there are almost 3,900.)

Note how Statigram’s repost function places a layer over the original photo that includes a retweet-like arrow symbol in the upper-left corner and a credit to the photographer at the bottom. It also encourages reposters to mention the photographers’ usernames in their descriptions.

“It illustrates it as a reblog and gives credit to the originator,” Bergman said. Many photographers thank Breaking News for featuring their photos, he said, and none has complained so far.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Find a photo

You can find photos by searching on Statigram or Instagram itself, or by searching Twitter for links to Instagram photos. In this example I’ll use a photo taken outside the Supreme Court after last week’s health care ruling.

Once you find a photo worth using, look up the user’s page at “” and locate the photo.

Click the “Repost this” button. (You must be logged in to Statigram for this button to appear.)

2. Get the repost ‘snapshot’ emailed to you

Statigram will automatically generate the “snapshot” version with the red corner logo and the photographer’s name superimposed, and it will email it to the address you signed up to Instagram with.

3. Save the email attachment to your phone’s gallery

Grab the phone where you have the Instagram app installed. Open your email inbox and download the photo from the Statigram email. Save it in your photo gallery or somewhere you can find it later.

4. Post to Instagram

Open your Instagram app and select the saved image from your phone. It’s best not to apply any new filters to the original image. Also, it’s good practice to use the @name of the original photographer, which notifies her of your post and lets your followers click through to her profile easily. Statigram also suggests you add a #repoststatigram hashtag so the world can follow all reposts in one feed.

Related: Instagram and other services suffer outage during weekend storm (VentureBeat) | Instagram finally starts rolling out a Web presence (Simply Zesty) | 5 features Anthony Quintano wants from Instagram ( | Breaking News iPad app launches (iTunes) | More stories about Instagram. Read more


The benefits, drawbacks of using camera phones as a photojournalist

The mind can sometimes play tricks on you.

After returning from a trip to Europe several months ago, I viewed some of the photos I had taken and was disappointed by how they turned out. I resolved (no pun intended) that it was time to get a new camera.

Some of the pictures were just not as sharp as I had hoped; others, taken in the evening, didn’t record enough information in the after sun-down darkness. Giving up something that I had happily used for several years at home and on vacation was difficult, but it was time.

So off I went and replaced my iPhone 3Gs with a new iPhone 4s. Yes, my camera is my phone. It wasn’t until I was heading to AT&T and not a camera store that this thought crossed my mind. With a snazzy new lens, 8 megapixels and HD video, the camera is most impressive.

I know I am not the first to have had this type of revelatory moment; one where you transfer the characteristics of something known into something new and different. But having spent more than 20 years as a photojournalist, as well as personally reporting on the rise of cellphone cameras, I was still shocked at how easily my brain exchanged the image of a professional SLR for one of a cellphone. Welcome to the 21st century!

So what’s a photographer to do? I could hold onto the past and resurrect my metal, film-fed companions, or their newer, digital counterparts and repeat the mantra that a phone is not a camera. But what’s the point when the vast majority of the active picture taking world has already made that shift? (The iPhone 4 is the most popular camera among Flickr users.)

“Steve Jobs saw this coming” says J. Sybylla Smith, curator of the recent show, “iSee: The Eyes of VII in the Hands of Hipstamatic.” Held at the Griffin Museum of Photography gallery in Boston’s South End, the show featured iPhone photography by 19 photojournalists from the VII Photo Agency. All but one of them used the Hipstamatic iPhone app to record their images.

“The iPhone will have an impact on our visual culture,” Smith said in a phone interview. “We’ll need to make rules and be in discourse for a while about this.”

According to Smith, and several of the photographers featured in the show, the camera phones’ “lack of an interface” broadens photojournalists’ ability to capture images. “It allows for an intimacy and immediacy that the Canon (professional SLR) does not,” she said.

In this statement, I find echoes of conversations had in an earlier time when photographers were first contemplating the move from Speed Graphics and Rolleiflex cameras; with their large film formats (4×5 and 2 ¼, respectively), to the smaller, more nimble and intimate 35mm Leica. Today we are at another inflection point in photography; one where the technology makes a sudden turn and takes the art form with it.

“These camera phones allow the photographer on assignment to quickly enter into a dialogue with the public because of how quickly we can take and transmit images,” Smith says. “Photojournalists are pleased to have another tool in their toolbox.”

Many photojournalists, however, are involved in the other conversation Smith mentioned; what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to the easy digital manipulations that many camera apps make possible.

This “discourse” ignited when The New York Times photographer Damon Winter won a major photo award for his Hipstamatic images from the frontlines in Afghanistan. (Winter’s use of the app created controversy and raised some interesting questions about Read more


Geofeedia helps journalists locate real-time photos, tweets where news breaks

There are three challenges in using social media content for reporting, as Storyful’s Mark Little has written: finding it, verifying it, and figuring out the best way to publish it.

In breaking news situations, reporters often rely on text searches — names of places, keywords like “crash” or “fire,” and hashtags. They look for users whose bios mention a particular location.

But it’s hit-or-miss. Even when they use the right terms, they have to wade through all the conversation from people who aren’t at the scene.

Geofeedia, a service that comes out of private beta today, aims to solve this problem by enabling location-based searches for social media content. Users can type in a place name, address, even the name of a sports venue, or they can simply outline an area on a map. The service will display the latest geotagged content — from Twitter, Instagram, Picasa, Flickr and YouTube — within that area.

“Most news happens at a location,” said Phil Harris, CEO of Geofeedia. When time is of the essence, “filtering through an unbelievable number of social media posts, it’s daunting.”

Hear about a shooting at a high school in near Cleveland? Draw a circle around the area on a map and start looking at what is being posted, pretty close to real-time. From there, you can filter by keywords and time.

Geofeedia displays social media content in a map view or in a “collage.” In the map view, you can draw a shape to find anything geotagged within that area. Here’s what I found Friday night in St. Petersburg, Fla.

For several months people at about 15 major news outlets around the world, plus others at smaller organizations, have been using the service and offering feedback, Harris said.

Geofeedia (previously Geofeedr) unveils a revamped user interface today, and announces a preliminary pricing structure: $1,450 a month for five users.

The price tag may be an obstacle for local news organizations, but for the time being, the company still is allowing free trials. “We don’t want to discourage people to use it because if they use it, we hope they see value in it,” Harris said.

“Business intelligence” for journalists

It’s easy to see how reporters could use the tool, particularly in breaking news. Besides being a tool to find sources, Harris described it as a form of “business intelligence” that can help editors make decisions about whether and how to cover stories.

For instance, they could use Geofeedia to gauge how big a story is so they can decide whether to send a reporter. If they do send someone, the reporter can go to the place with a high concentration of tweets rather than heading to a general area like a highway exit. And before anyone gets to the scene, people in the newsroom can use Geofeedia to find eyewitnesses and contact them, perhaps while they’re still at the scene of the breaking news.

Harris saw how useful this service was during coverage of a shooting at Chardon High School, near Cleveland, on Feb. 27. He learned of the shooting soon after it was first reported, pulled up a map of the area on Geofeedia and drew a circle around the town of Chardon. He saw a concentration of tweets at Chardon High School and drew a tighter boundary around the school.

“Within 30 seconds of our learning of the shooting, we had identified several sources within the school itself,” he said.

Later, he saw a reporter searching for sources on Twitter, wading through tweets and retweets and asking people if they were at the school. With Geofeedia, “a reporter would have substantiated [someone's] presence in the school immediately and realized that it was a high-priority follow-up.”

How does it fare in real news situations?

I found this Instagram photo geotagged near a school fire in Oregon on Friday. The detail view shows where the image was geotagged and enables the user to look for other content nearby.

I tried it myself on Friday. When I saw a tweet from Reuters’ Matthew Keys about a fire in a high school near Portland, Ore., I logged in to Geofeedia and searched for Portland.

It turned out the fire was at Woodburn High School, south of Portland, so I located that on Google Maps (Geofeedia didn’t recognize the high school name) and drew a circle around the area.

I didn’t have much luck at first. I scrolled through irrelevant content like YouTube videos of homes for sale and Instagram photos of flowers, shoes and, oddly, someone who likes to take photos of handguns.

About 20 minutes later I found a relevant Instagram photo, but it turned out to be a cell phone photo of someone’s TV showing live coverage of the fire. Right after that I found something more promising: another Instagram photo showing a ladder truck at the school.

As with the tweets that Harris identified at the Cleveland high school shooting, neither of those photos had the keywords I would have been looking for, such as “fire,” “Woodburn High School” or #woodburnfire.

Meanwhile, I noticed a reporter for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore., reporting the story on Twitter. In the time that I found that one photo, he had retweeted a couple of photos, both of which did have those keywords.

One of several tools for finding witnesses and photos

That short experiment meshed with the experience of Holly Moore, a social media producer for Gannett who’s been testing Geofeedia. She told me she’s used Geofeedia in conjunction with other services, but it hasn’t become her go-to tool.

“I think that it has great potential to be a hip news tool,” she told me by email. “I also think that it’s not quite a service worth paying for yet.”

Moore used Geofeedia during the Chardon High School shooting to find a photo of the place where police captured the gunman.

“I liked it a lot for the tornados in Texas, which was a very visual event,” she said, noting that she used Geofeedia to find two of the 20 photos in a slide show of tornado damage photos. “And it also works well in arenas. I loved looking at what was uploaded during basketball games during March Madness.”

However, Moore said she wished it were easier to get that content out of Geofeedia and onto her website. The new Geofeedia user interface includes buttons to share on the major social media networks and to add content to Storify. The company has also responded to users’ requests to create collections of content they find on Geofeedia.

Dorrine Mendoza, now at CNN, told me that she used Geofeedia when she was at the North County Times near San Diego. She found some material related to an earthquake in Mexico and used it after contacting the sources.

After a series of shootings in Oceanside, Calif., “we had discussed the possibility of using it by saving searches … to get a ‘feel’ for community sentiment.” Though Mendoza didn’t end up using Geofeedia that way, I found the idea intriguing. We know Twitter can be used to eavesdrop on conversations; this would be a way to aim your ear in a particular direction.

Reuters Social Media Editor Anthony De Rosa said the service was useful in covering the May Day protests and in finding images related to a plane that was quarantined at Chicago Midway International Airport. “We probably could have used a Twitter search for this but Geofeedr just made it easy,” he told me by email.

Sometimes the service doesn’t pull up as much content as De Rosa would expect to see, which could indicate how much (or little) social media content is geotagged. I suspect that is on the rise. Also, Geofeedia only pulls up tweets with latitude/longitude coordinates within the search area; it does not look at information like Twitter bios.

That means it may miss some content, but it also helps with verification. “A very high percentage [of the content Geofeedia surfaces] are consistent with the location at which they were geotagged,” Harris said.

Solving the discovery problem

Geofeedia is the second tool I’ve seen in the last few months that tries to help journalists solve the discovery problem. (Verification is another challenge altogether.)

In February, I wrote about a project called SRSR, or Seriously Rapid Source Review, that aims to identify eyewitnesses by looking for certain keywords. Though it looks promising, the project is just a proof-of-concept.

At the time, De Rosa told me, “Nobody seems to have cracked the nut on being able to find that tweet from the person who nobody knew prior to that vital piece of information they posted.”

We’ll see if Geofeedia is the nutcracker, and whether news organizations will pay to find those people. Read more


Photographers: Stop using Instagram to share your edited, DSLR photos

Nate Benson

Last spring Nate Benson noticed a shift in Instagram: Professional photographers were using it to share images captured by their expensive SLRs and edited in Photoshop or Lightroom, not on-the-move photos snapped with their iPhones.

Instagram is called Instagram because the service is suppose to represent the photography you took in….wait for it….an instant. To be blunt, just because you are able to upload photos from your iOS photo library doesn’t mean you should. … We’re not dealing with UN level diplomacy here, but I strongly believe photographers should respect the intention of these social networks and ultimately enjoy them like the rest of us do and not worry about always presenting their top work that has been delicately edited for hours on end.

Earlier: Is Instagram’s social network dumbing down photography?Photojournalists miss the point of Instagram by focusing on ethics of filters

Thanks to Melissa Lyttle for pointing this out. Read more