I am totally addicted to Instagram right now.


I have always loved photography. I’m not a great artist (drawing, painting, sculpting) but I think I have “a good eye for it,” as they say, and photography is the medium through which I’ve been most able to express that.

Which is not to say that I am a photographer. I’m a hobbyist, an amateur at best. I don’t have professional aspirations (or even delusions, haha). I simply do it for fun. For beauty. For memory.

(I make that disclaimer in part because I sympathize with the pros who must endure every doofus with a camera phone thinking, “This is easy! I can take a good picture. I’m a photographer!” Trust me, writers feel that same pain.)

instagram 02 instagram 01 instagram 03

Thoughts on photo-processing (and personality)

Personally I’ve always leaned toward “less is more” when it comes to adjusting or enhancing photos. I like to boost contrast a tad, and de-yellow-ify indoor shots, but otherwise I tend to leave things alone. So I actually wasn’t a big fan of Instagram at first, because it forces square crops and promotes filters. As Andy once put it, “Why do all these photos look like they were taken in the 60’s?”

It’s a fair question, and occasionally I wonder if our generation will regret not having any “normal” photos of this period of our lives. But obviously I’ve changed my mind enough to get hooked, so… yeah.

(Also, I realized portrait and landscape crops are a bit arbitrary, aren’t they?)

In truth, I still stick fairly close-in to my original photos, using Instagram to tweak contrast or color balance, but mostly trying to make a better (truer?) version of the real thing.

(This probably comes as no surprise to my mother, who often remarks that I am not wild enough.)

Meanwhile, there are some really creative folks out there. Folks who use HDR, superimpose multiple images, etc. People like my friend Stephanie, who can bring so much imagination to the image. Who can create a different story than the one originally captured.

(Steph lives, breathes, and writes the fantasy genre. This is a surprise to no one.)

My account

If you’d like to be friends, let’s!

And if you don’t have Instagram, no sweat. You’ll see plenty of my stuff in the “[Month] in photos” posts anyway.


Here are just a few of the great Instagrammers I’ve discovered so far. Click through to see more of each person’s amazing work.

_janekim heysp homesliced
jen_seiser jethromullen joyjangles
miltoncross moonlightice withhearts

Even as a hobbyist, there’s a great joy in being inspired and pushed to do better work. These folks give me that.

13 responses to “Insta-hooked”

  1. gingermandy Avatar

    Me too! I just started using it a few months ago and I’m hooked, although I do have to admit I am a sucker for some of the filters, haha. It’s nice to have a social photo app like that right on my phone because it makes it so easy and encouraging to snap a photo of everyday things I’d otherwise overlook. I’ve also found quite a few local people on there who take awesome shots around the city, so that’s a bonus.

    You might like the Flickr app as well, I think it has a better camera and it keeps photos in portrait/landscape if that’s how you want it.

  2. Simon Avatar

    Me likey Instagram, that’s actually one of the main reasons I chose to get an iPhone over another Android last year (at the time, Instagram was iPhone only). In order to avoid angering my future self, I shoot all my images with the stock camera app, then do some editing in Snapseed before porting over to Instagram for the final filter and post. This means that I have a “clean” copy of every image for posterity in case my current infatuation with Hudson causes future-me to scratch his head and question my taste.

  3. Juliann Avatar

    Oh, Kristan. This was a dangerous post for me to read. I’ve avoided Instagram so far, but do love to take pictures. I don’t have time for another addiction, but I’m getting curious-er and curious-er…

    I loved your comparison of amateur photographers and wannabe writers. Too true! That made me smile and cringe at the same time.

  4. kaye (paper reader) Avatar

    I had an instagram but then removed it after that whole “comercialise your photos” kerfuffle. I wish Twitter and them would play nice again so that it’s easier to view instagram photos directly from a Twitter feed, but as it is I can handle the extra click.

    I think I will bring mine back; I’d been thinking about it. Here goes. Thanks for your inspiration, as always. <3

  5. linda Avatar

    Instagram is fun! But my sister always complains that I go through these periods of not posting anything and then all of a sudden clogging up her feed with a ton of photos in a row. LOL.

    I enjoy having your photos in my Instagram feed! Love the interesting perspectives and eye for detail. :)

  6. T. S. Bazelli Avatar

    It’s insta-gratification! I love playing with cellphone shots. I’m always surprised how nicely they come out ;) I’m not on Instagram anymore (BOO for a lack of Twitter integration. It’s the new Flikr app for me) but I miss the filters.

  7. Kristan Avatar

    Oh, I tend to use the filters too, but for each photo I try to find the one that enhances without altering, if you know what I mean. And yes, the Flickr app is great! And yet there’s something about Instagram’s forced simplicity that appeals to me… (Also, OK, I’m probably being a sucker for the trend. :P)

    Haha I like Hudson too! But… doesn’t Instagram save your originals to the Camera Roll? Mine does…

    Well if you join, friend me!

    Yeah, I had only been using it for like a week at that point, so I was willing to “slash and burn” my account if needed. Luckily they backtracked like whoa. (Although really, they were never gonna do what everyone feared. Just like Facebook isn’t going to steal your status updates and make a bajillion dollars and not give you any.) Still, if I were a professional photographer, I’d be more selective in how I use Instagram. As a hobbyist, it’s an awesome tool/community. If you re-join, friend me!

    LOL I’ve done that on occasion. Particularly if you travel somewhere, it’s easy to create a backlog of pics. But in my daily life, I’m lucky if I get 1 or 2 shots worth sharing. (Thanks for your kind words, btw!)

    ” I’m always surprised how nicely they come out” – ditto! Man, I remember my first digital camera. It SUCKED compared to what phones and tablets can do now. As for Instagram vs. Flickr: I use Instagram, then port my photos over to Flickr (which I consider my main photo backup anyway). If I want to share to Facebook (occasionally) or Twitter (never, so far) I do it from the Flickr app.

  8. Meghan Ward Avatar

    Kristan, I need to take an Instagram crash course. I have it on my phone but have no idea how to use it. I don’t even know if I have an account. You’re a great photographer! I’d like to get Instahooked, too, but I’m on a writing roll right now and need to ride that out.

    By the way, I want to join your Google hang out, but haven’t even had time to click on the email yet!

  9. Joelle Wilson Avatar

    I’ve been curious about instagram and now I am curiously considering checking it out.

  10. Stephanie Mooney Avatar

    Hey, that’s me! LOL. :)

    I love instagram when people use it as snapshot of their live style or personality, but the beauty of it is you can use it for whatever you want. It’s a great tool for self expression, and always a source of inspiration for me. :)

    Love the examples you included. Beautiful.

  11. Kristan Avatar

    Thanks! I definitely don’t think you should interrupt your writing, but if you like photography, check out Instagram if/when your roll slows.

    (Oh, and disregard the Google+ hangout thing. That was a total accident! :P)

    I think you’d enjoy it!

    Lol yes it is. And I agree: the great thing about Instagram is that people can use it in all different ways. I’m glad you liked these pics!

  12. Aisha Avatar

    Omg I finally looked at your account, I love some of your photos! I kind of want to join JUST to favorite some of your stuff…

  13. Kristan Avatar