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Authenticity rules as influencers abandon Instagram look

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

25 Apr 2019

The curated, glamorised versions of our best selves made popular on Instagram is seeing a backlash. What began as photoshopped edits of perfection: the backdrop of a floral wall, the fashionista crossing a zebra in busy urban surroundings, those perfect cappuccinos adorned with heart-shaped foam, are at their essence staged photography, beautified, curated images of unrealness.

An article in the technology section of The Atlantic this week boldly declared The Instragram Aesthetic is Over! The look, made famous on the platform which originally launched with only a square photo option, was quickly adopted by influencers, who artfully arranged background, foreground and subject matter, often toting a product made to look simultaneously spontaneous and glamorous but always curated. It may have started with the food and travel industries, the perfect avocado toast photos and hot dog legs and cocktails in a pool/beach/holiday scene, but it diffused into the broader world, where everything became staged, arranged, glossy and perfect. These too have had their moment.

There is a move away from manufactured posts

Like everyone else scrolling through endless curated feeds of content, we know these images are far from reality. Manufactured posts in the age of authenticity is no longer cool, asserts The Atlantic.

Stylised situations became the norm

The word Instragrammable even entered the urban dictionary, describing a situation and photo that is worthy of an Instagram post. Worthy because stylised situations became the norm to how we view the world on social media.

Restaurants and retailers caught on quickly, creating quirky interiors, objects, facades and details that were Instagram friendly. Retailers like Cos and Selfridges were early to include immersive digital experiences with multi sensory and Instagrammable moments. Think 6ft displays and brand moments throughout its stores all pre-curated and ready for posting.

The backlash has started

A group of young, new influencers is rejecting the "notion of a curated feed in favour of a messier and more unfiltered vibe," notes The Atlantic. By messy, it means not capturing the perfect light, the perfect photography angle, or indeed the perfect shot. Huji Cam, an app to make photos look old-school and un-photoshopped, attests to this, and has been downloaded more than 16 million times.

Others are favouring non-filtered and low production images, focusing on authenticity of the post rather the perfection of the photo.

Matt Klein, a cultural strategist at the consultancy Sparks & Honey, told The Atlantic there is a" gradual shift away from the rainbow-colored preplanned photos that dominated the platform in late 2017. "

“We all know the jig is up. We’ve all participated in those staged photos. We all know the stress and anxiety it takes. And we can see through it. Culture is a pendulum, and the pendulum is swaying. That’s not to say everyone is going to stop posting perfect photos. But the energy is shifting.”

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Photo credit: homepage: Pexels, Extra.ie; Article source: "The Instagram Aesthetic is Over," Taylor Lorenz, The Atlantic