Gray’s Anatomy – ‘Instabragging’

It’s Friday and that means just one thing here at theappwhisperer HQ, Richard Gray’s, Gray’s Anatomy column to help get us into a super relaxed and calm weekend frame of mind. This week, Richard looks at the world of bragging as far as iPhone photography is concerned and ponders what it really means to the rest of us and are we all guilty of it…over to you Richard (Foreword by Joanne Carter).




If you’ve been reading this column for a while, I hope you know me well enough to think I’m not a bragging sort of person. So when I mention that I’m currently over in New York after having visited San Francisco, I hope you realise that I only mention it because it is relevant to this week’s column. I read a blog a couple of months ago about bragging on Instagram. There’s even a hash tag for it: #instabrag. There are various things that are classic instabrags. Going on an exotic preferrably long-haul and very expensive holiday is an obvious one. So people will post pictures of recognisable landmarks (eg The Eifel Tower if you’re from the US, or The Golden Gate Bridge if you’re from Europe – alas I didn’t get any, more through bad time management than modesty). Or if you think simply being in a plane will get you some peer credibility, the classic picture of an airplane wing will do, long-haul or not. Moving down the credibility scale, there are a lot of people who are very pleased with themselves at getting hold of a ticket to a big sports event. So their photo reduces to a simple message: look at me, I’m here (and you’re not). Even further down the food chain (quite appropriately) are photos of food. In this case, people are saying: look at this daintily arranged plate of food served to me at Swanky’s Restaurant for £100 a head. A dim fuzzy shot across the restaurant doesn’t really do it and Swanky’s has some lovely spotlights shining down on to your plates just to reassure you that you’re not wasting your money. Of course, food is a funny one, because people take photos of food all the time, whether they’re in Swanky’s or not. My theory is that we have a primeval need to tell ourselves: you know where your next meal is coming from and here’s proof of it in picture form. A bit like our cavemen ancestors used to draw pictures of animals on their walls. So, yes, at this point, we’ve reached the Instagram equivalent of Neanderthal man/woman.

But that’s what Instagram, and it’s adopted parent Facebook, are all about now, I hear you say. But some of us on Instagram originally found it as a place to explore this new and exciting medium of iphoneography. And one of Instagram’s original functions for me and many others was to show our artistic efforts in this new field. And if we do something that we’re proud of, why not show it? So long as “show” doesn’t become “show off”. So, if I might walk a fine line, see below for my obligatory plane wing shot. And I hope you don’t think I’m bragging”.




© Richard Gray – ‘Instabragging’

Richard's mobile photography has been exhibited around the world and published in various magazines and on many websites. He launched the world's first live course in iPhone photography in early 2012 with Kensington and Chelsea College. He has given workshops with The Photographers' Gallery and British Journal of Photography. Sport England recently commissioned him to cover various of its Sportivate initiatives with the iPhone. A keen observer of this new photographic genre, his writing has been widely published (most notably in The Guardian) and he writes a blog (iphoggy-bloggy). With a big camera, he specialises in music photography ( and syndicates to Press Association (with both big and small cameras).