I only started using a smartphone when I found out about Instagram as a social platform for sharing photographs; mostly out of curiosity, in order to understand from the inside the novelty and its potential.
And so, towards the middle of February 2011, within the space of just a few days, I became one of the few Instagram fanatics of that early period (which was only three years ago!).).
The instantaneousness was one of the main qualities that influenced my first few months of using it and, as has happened often to nearly all of us, created a dependence on this instrument, so different from ‘traditional’ photography. A dependence caused mainly by the novelty of it, by the compulsion to understand how this world of ‘capture and share’ works.
During this early phase, the true protagonist was instinct. Observing reality using a different viewpoint; that of this device, its square format, or what I knew as the 6×6 of traditional medium format cameras, but with new limits in depth of field, light and colour.
Has anyone not photographed a coffee cup in this beginner phase? I did it, I admit, with a certain sense of satisfaction gained from managing to get the subject in focus using a light which, at that moment, seemed good enough. I was even happy with the different hues of the shadows.
Over time, that instinct had to be fed with Aesthetics. Walking through the streets in my home city, observing or, more accurately, chasing scenes of life that I saw before me, I felt a need (with built-in iPhone4 lens) to take pieces of these images and compose a scene with which I was happy.
Such as the pigeons in Piazza Maggiore in Bologna, the amazing routines of tiny gymnasts on red and blue mats, the light and shadow generated by Spring afternoons in Northern Italy.
By studying daily this new photographic language, I began to look towards moving from the instantaneousness of the moment towards an aesthetic consistency in that which I reproduced in pictures. That is to say, an ensemble of images that all follow an order of exposure, thanks also to the use of filters, editing apps, such as Camera+ in the first instance, then Snapseed and now many others, such as VSCOcam, Afterlight.
My personal Instagram feed clearly shows just how dynamic my work, and observation of a continuum, have been, and how my pictures have gradually changed over this time. Indeed, it is one of the most fascinating things about it, being able to see the mutation in your own viewpoint, over a few years, based both on your individual aesthetic sense and on conscious choices you made through a need to tell it from your point of view.
For me, personally, a determining factor was getting right inside the other side of Instagram, that of the community. It is no small thing having continuous feedback from other users, some of whom are now friends, and who ended up playing a decisive role in my approach to mobile photography. Amongst those who I must mention are Kbasta, Siri, Mia and, fortunately, the constant feedback, more offline than online, from Cinzia, my partner when my Instagram adventure began, and now my wife.
Even, and above all, today, after three years, and after receiving interest in my photography from a few important names (Forbes and Chicago Tribune in the US; Huffington Post and Repubblica in Italy), I feel that that which I have created has been but part of only a period of transition towards another form of aesthetics, one which, in my mind, is already mine, but that I have not yet translated into photographs.
Simone Bramante // Brahmino
Digital Creative Director / Photographer