Instagram ‘Not a Photography Company,’ Says Co-Founder


In case you thought Instagram was just about faux-antiquing images, au contraire. They’re not even a photography company, co-founder Kevin Systrom (shown above) clarified during a recent discussion at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club.

“It’s about communicating a moment (to someone),” Systrom said. “It just happens to be an image… Of course we want to make images beautiful…But it’s about more than that. It’s about communicating a message.

“We don’t wake up in the morning thinking about what four filters can we add tomorrow. That’s driving straight into photography, and what we’d rather see is other apps on the outside innovate and make awesome filters.”

Systrom went on to hint that Instagram, acquired last year by Facebook for a cool $715 million, may apply its magic to video in the future, although it will take a lot of infrastructure improvement to create a suitable video experience/ “You’re trying to put on the wire the equivalent of 30 pictures per second,” Systrom said.


Also possible: Profitability. Although Systrom nixed the idea of ads or premium subscription content as ways to get there. Ditto for the notion of turning into a backdoor stock agency via the expansive intellectual property rights Instagram rolled out last year.

“Never, ever would we take any rights that mean we can sell your photos, or do anything to your photos that’s weird….You own your photos. We are just there to facilitate sharing your photos with the world.”

 (via CNET)

Image credits: Photo Giddy, Jessica Zollman

  • Andrew

    oh dear. I think Kev has been reading too many post-modern marketing manuals. Photos in, photos out … of course Instagram is a photography company. He is obviously ignoring the fact that their ‘filters’ replicate the look of 1970’s / early 80’s film emulsions

  • ennuipoet

    I think anyone who’s had the experience if seeing the average Instagram feed (not the pros using Instagram) knows it is not about photography. It appears to be about people’s lunches and feet.

  • Mansgame

    Tell that to the millions of idiots who have used it to capture all the important moments of their kids’ lives with those filters. Boy I bet their face is red…or purple.

  • Jake

    Instagram ‘Not a Photography Company,’ Says Co-Founder.

    ‘You can say that again,’ says the average angry Petapixel user.

  • Mike

    No, that’s idiotgraphy.

  • frankmckenna

    Instagram is about “communicating a moment in time with a picture”.. and apparently that’s not photography.

  • Burnin Biomass

    Or Hipstography?

  • Aaron Tsuru

    Follow more interesting people.
    Side note: your friends are boring and your comments are unoriginal.

  • Aaron Tsuru

    Aw, you are right. Those old photos my mom has of me back in the 70s and 80s are RUINED!!!!! how dare those moments flare red or purple or *gasp* yellow. And don’t get me started on those black & white “photos”! Who the hell is THAT colourblind, amirite? And heaven forbid people enjoy little moments on a fun & enjoyable social network like instagram. Ew. Who wants to see all those hearts & comments about those wonderful instances with their family, right? My face is red/purple just thinking about it.

  • Aaron Tsuru

    Awww…. you really don’t get instagram! That’s adorable. Do you at least get twitter?

  • HEW

    I think what he was trying to say, but failed miserably at, is that Instagram is not a camera company. What he said is like saying Flickr is not a photography company.

  • Renato Murakami

    Because “wake(ing) up in the morning thinking about what four filters can we add tomorrow” is photography… *cough -not cough*
    The guy either doesn’t understand photography entirely, or just came up with a very weird way to say that they are also interested in video and other stuff.
    Because you know, photography IS about communicating a moment. Not the only way to do it though.
    Also, on the always present fear of having your photos yanked from you and sold by image hosting websites – I don’t know how the US legal system works, but wouldn’t that be illegal no matter what ToS is thrown at users?
    I had some lessons and talked about stuff like this with journalism teachers and lawyers, and at least in Brazil, it sounds like even if a website had a ToS that explicitly said something like that, in court it still has no power to supersede ownership and rights.
    So for instance, if a website like Instragram chose to sell images from a user without explicit permission for each and every one, they’d eventually loose in court. And the ToS has no validity as contract for it.

  • Mike

    Well, considering that pros are nonexistent anymore, and that there are only two or three idiots who will pay so much to remove ads, Flickr may switch to non photography related business…

  • Zack

    Instagram doesn’t save over the original photo. So the unfiltered version still exists, on their phone at least.

  • Eli Bishop

    I too, found it shallow and pedantic.