Monday, March 12

The future of retroism

You go up to any 15 year old interested in taking photos, and show them a few of your most treasured Instagram shots they'll probably tell you, you've got a shit camera. They have no reference point for the Instagram style, to them it just looks like you've taken it on a whack Nokia mobile phone, and they're laughing at you, then taking a photo of you in the kind of high resolution you used to be able to see in before you wore contacts. To them retroism is incredibly gay, they want photos so clear you can see the stitching on their oneseys, and it makes sense, the technology is there, why wouldn't they.

Let's be clear, I'm not attacking the app,  Instagram is by far my favourite app, it's amazing, and I'm not the only one who thinks so, since it's launch in 2010, it's already got over 27 million users worldwide. Personally, I love everything about it, the icon is amazing, the app functionality is life changing (bit much), and the filters on the photos are so great, I actually feel sorry for the people that have dedicated their lives to taking genuine Polaroid pictures that have a 'retro vibe' to them.

The secret of Instagram's appeal lies within our craving for nostalgia. This gateway from the present to the past gives us the fascinating ability to look at how our photos might have appeared if they came from a different generation, and we fall in love with them instantly, because that feeling of nostalgia is so potent that we have an instant emotional connection to it.

In 2012 the memories buried deep in our heads, only survive in yellowed, bordered, slightly blurred old photos, but they're reborn every time we publish a photo on our Instagram stream. As a proposition for Instagram it's untouchable, to be able to offer this human connection is something that supersedes the incredible technology behind the app and creates something beautiful.

What I find interesting is that, surely, this is only relevant to a generation that grew up in the non-digital photography era, to children of the 70's, to people that have seen and loved the references that these filters take inspiration from, so what happens to next for the app? How do they continue to be relevant and grow their market share from a constantly evolving and increasingly youthful market? How will they attract a generation who aren't interested in making their photos look 'shit'?

The challenge for Instagram is to encourage a new generation of users to embrace the style, and then inspire future generations to connect in the same way we have, pulling that strand of nostalgia back through the ages. It's a massive shift in the way people think, and a complicated strategy to pull off, so how are they going to do it?

Seriously, I have no idea, sorry if you were reading that hoping to find out, I was kind of hoping you might be able to shed some light on it, if not, let's sit back and see what happens.

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