In response to Joe Shutter’s “Instagram Kills Creativity”

If you don’t know who Joe Shutter is, he is a phenomenal photographer in Iceland currently from Great Britain. His website is here. I found him through Instagram, and have just been fascinated with his work. He gives photo tours in Iceland, and I am going to have to forewarn you Joe, you can add me to the list of people who would like to come up in the next year. Because everyone is talking about the beauty surrounding Iceland, and I want to capture my own photos on site.

One of the crazy things about photography is there is so many pictures which flood the ‘market’, your eyes, everyday. We see about 5000 ads everyday. I talk a lot about finding your inner voice when it comes to photography, but the crazy thing is you really need to jump start that voice with others creativity. To do this, I recently came across what Joe Shutter talks about on his blog (joeshutter.com/blog) where “Instagram Kills creativity” and “The Death of Instagram”. This is an intense fight creatives have with their own selves. Showing art and then watching it shamelessly copied. The state of commodity becomes increasingly exaggerated with each platform.

I think there is a better way. However, the solution is really in Joe’s post in a simple formula. It’s the jump from working for someone, versus you working for yourself. View that 9 to 5 job as your own choice. Because it is your choice, any other mentality and you need to quit.

What I am advocating for is the same thing you are advocating for, and that is your inner voice. But we see through many platforms people’s inner voice is not confirmed by creativity, but it’s confirmed by lots of stealing (the essence of being influenced). I think Ecclesiastes said it first, “There is nothing new under the sun.” and then Steven Pressfield continued the mantra by saying, “If you are going to steal, steal from the best.”

So steal from the best, but “the best” is not on Instagram. It’s just a platform to gain some visibility. The best are always going to be in the shadows, away from the spotlight. Because their avenue of traction is not your avenue of traction.

What? Are you advocating for me to choose a different field to work in?

Hardly, I think you are in the right field. But we need to adopt a more polymathic approach to photography, to life. This is why Instagram has died and lost its creativity. It has, for lack of a better term, become incestuous. This is the main reason why a few locations are copied and then redistributed. There is no longer the sense of urgency for drastic innovation. The mind works in mysterious ways, but one way which we have clearly found appealing is patterns. Our mind loves patterns, and when you cause your brain to assimilate images of “beautiful” you are being patterned into prioritizing some places as more beautiful than others.

There is a little research into how to turn groups of people towards certain locations for the prime reason of boosting tourism. For instance, picture this: there is a hurricane in Haiti (tourism was a main provider before the hurricane). How does the island recur the percentage it lost because of the hurricane?


Advertising becomes getting Instagram influencers to come to the Haitian Island, paid for by the government. Which then looks great to the community by their followers. Then tourism comes back (from followers of the influencer) and they take the same photo, because they want to be there with their influencer, and because there is a lack of development happening due to the hurricane that one photo could be the sole source of creativity the island has for its income.

You talking about sourcing new content, what should we shoot?

This is the tough question, and it all starts with what you want to shoot. For Joe its the Iceland landscape, for me, I typically shoot cities or landscapes at sunset – just something about cloud formations which start to churn the creativity side of me. For more on your inner voice, follow my email list which you can do here.

This is my two cents. Let me know what you think.


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