#NoFilter Versus Editing

Because of the ubiquity of digital cameras that has resulted from their convenient inclusion into our cellphones, almost everyone who has ever entertained the thought of photography as a pastime has the ability to pursue it. Additionally, apps like the insanely-popular Instagram offer a space in which anyone can display photos they have taken.

Although some may complain that this open-source photography leads to too many amateurs posting poor photos of food, others acknowledge it allows those who may not have known of their photography skill to have room to explore it as a hobby or career pursuit. For the sake of this article, know that I fall in the latter camp. However, Instagram isn’t simply about photography anymore (if it ever was)–it’s also how much a user’s photos are edited before they’re posted to the app’s feed.

Sure, #NoFilter may be a popular hashtag on Instagram, but how often is it actually true? In fact, so many people seemed to be falsely adding the tag to their photos that the website Filter Fakers was launched in order to discern the genuine from the ungenuine. Additionally, last year Instagram added new filters and previously introduced a number of photo editing tools within the app.

However, aside from Instagram’s filters and tools, there are plenty of other apps with which to edit photos on your phone. Some allow users to make collages out of multiple photos, but there are hundreds of others dedicated to simply making a photo look better. Many of these are dedicated specifically to selfies, like Facetune or BeautyPlus, which allow users to retouch their portraits like a professional.

That being said, there are just as many photo editor apps for non-selfie pics. Though I haven’t used any selfie-specific editors, I am a big fan of Afterlight. I’ve tried many photo editing apps–including PicLab, Photo Editor by Aviary, BeFunky, and Piclay among others–but I received the Afterlight recommendation from two people who went to school for photography. I now use the app to edit every single photo I upload to Instagram.

Do my photos look edited? Sure. Of course. Does that mean I put less effort into taking the best photo possible before I even opened it in Afterlight? Absolutely not. As many may agree, #NoFilter doesn’t necessarily denote stellar photography, just as using three different photo editors doesn’t detract from a photo’s pleasing appearance.

As with the rest of the internet and social media, Instagram is a curated part of your online persona. I choose to feature edited photos that are both aesthetically pleasing (at least, to me) and depict aspects of my life.

Feature photo courtesy of Garry Knight.