Guest Post by Tamara LackeyFollow Tamara on Twitter

I have been using Instagram for about nine months now, so I feel like I can finally deliver an opinion on this wildly popular app.

Initially, I thought the concept was to take a photograph every day with your iPhone, run a simple little filter over it, and post it while checking out others’ images. Over time, though, I started realizing that it could be about much more than that. It could be about showing a slice of your life and getting a very visual feel for how others are living, too. And not just about how we’re living but what we’re experiencing, the way we’re experiencing it, and how we literally see it – even most interestingly, how you and I see the world differently.

In the last couple weeks, for example, I’ve used Instagram to:

  1. Show how a goose smiles (she was probably hissing, but I’m going with smiles)
  2. Playfully question the expression of one of the models on a current Calvin Klein ad
  3. Show off a batch of homemade, oven-fresh bagels
  4. Play with a new batch of app textures and toning to showcase color and light
  5. Display how my 80-pound dog hogs my little girl’s bed
  6. Pose with Woody Allen (ish)
  7. Share a real-time shot taken from top of the empire state building
  8. Release a Mona Lisa-style portrait in a cafe
  9. Share an image of the impressive burn lightning strike left on the car i was driving in
  10. Snap a shot of the police, lights blaring, in my rear view mirror, while I was pulled over (unrelated to lightning strike)

The reason Instagram works so well as an everyday image-sharing app is because the shots are taken with a device most of us typically carry everywhere, our phone. We can naturally capture more of the variety of our life, and more of our vision. And the beauty of it is that shooting with your phone also showcases your ability to use the core aspects of photography that transcend fabulous gear and lighting equipment: basically, composition, interaction, and effective use of whatever light options you have.

No, these shots aren’t exactly “perfect” – but neither is life.