This post has been corrected.
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Quartz spoke to Benjamin Lowy, an international photographer who is represented by Getty Images and regularly works with the New York Times, Time, and other outlets. He is considered one of the pioneers of professional mobile phone photography. His image of waves crashing off the coast of New York as Hurricane Sandy moved inland was use on the cover of Time. The image was created using Instagram and was part of an experiment by the editors of the magazine that allowed Lowy and a handful of other photographers to take over the magaizine’s Instagram feed during the storm.
Lowy doubts that publications like Time will continue using their Instagram feeds in this way. “Why would you put original content on Instagram and allow Facebook to generate income for them?” he asked. The new terms of service feel like another hit to an industry that has had a complicated relationship with the internet, he said.
He had high hopes for Instagram.
“In this land of diminishing platforms for photographers and visual artists to showcase and communicate their work, this was a revolutionary platform because it allowed you to do that,” Lowy said. “This was like the Twitter for images. And it allowed us to bring images to a public that wanted to see it. “
The internet has made his profession harder, said Lowy. But Instagram represented the democratization of photography and a way to show your work on your own without the, uh, filter of an editor or a publication. Instagram was a safe spot for photographers’ work, but the new terms suggest a change.
“The internet has always been touted as this amazing tool of information and for bringing people closer to each other, but now the internet has become the world’s greatest photo copy machine,” said Lowy. “And everyone is trying to make money off of it. And they are screwing the little guy. Instagram is going to end up become the land of brunch and cats. Anyone who makes quality images is not going to want to post them there because we’re going to get taken advantage of.”
Lowy’s passions might not translate into a boycott of the platform, however,, particularly without a viable alternative. There’s a new Flickr app that has gotten a lot of buzz in the photography community, he said, but when Lowy logged tried it he was asked to sign up using Facebook.
“I’m faced with the reality of the shrinking viability of my industry. This was my one hope for me. This was going to revolutionize the industry and give us different platforms for our work and another avenue to sell your work or to sell clients on your work. But that’s now gone,” said Lowy. “I’ll probably end up becoming a dive instructor on a tropical island somewhere. And then I’ll take pictures of my cat.”
Lowy wasn’t the only photographer venting about Instagram’s new terms:
Instagram pisses off 100 million people with a drunken text … oh, I mean new Terms Of Service.
— Prison Photography (@brookpete) December 17, 2012
— Bryant Hawkins (@bryant_hawkins) December 17, 2012
Hey, @instagram? Adding a clause to your Terms stipulating that you can steal pics doesn’t make it legal. Congrats on killing a great thing.
— Daniella Zalcman (@dzalcman) December 17, 2012
Instagram’s new Terms of Service Will Drive Talented Photographers Away.After Jan. 16, images from user ac instagr.am/p/TX-Qy9Km7h/
— Tomas VH / VII (@TomasVH) December 18, 2012
Inspired by #instagram etc I’ve launched new social media site called mugPuntr. 1: You sign up. 2: You give me all your money. 3: That’s it.
— Jeremy Nicholl (@Russian_Photos) December 18, 2012
Correction (Dec. 18, 2012): Instagram’s new terms of service take effect on Jan. 16 not Jan. 13. This post has been updated to reflect the correct date.