In early May, Instagram changed its algorithm and seems to want to draw more inspiration from the methods of its main competitor TikTok. A shift from photo to video that makes the great photographers who use the social network grumble.
“They got me!” annoyed photojournalist Boris Allin. The subject of his irritation? A “stupid” algorithm change on Instagram. In early May, the social network got a makeover that prioritized vertical images and original content on its platform. An evolution that gives more weight to unpublished “real”, in other words, to videos, and no longer to images, which nevertheless constituted the site’s DNA … “Insta” also seems to be getting closer to its big competitor TikTok , for the photographers’ large breast milk, many to use it. Among the annoyed is therefore Boris Allin, alias odieuxboby, 31, Leica ambassador for 61,000 subscribers to the social network. “Last year, my photos had between 5,000 and 10,000 likes. Today I have 20,000 more subscribers, but in just two weeks my audience has dropped to a maximum of 2,000 likes when I have never gone under. »
The observation is shared by many users of the social network, such as the Moroccan street photographer Yassine Alaoui Ismaili, 31, alias yoriyas, 44,900 subscribers, who long ago chose video, which he combines with photography via freezer frames in his films. Included in each post, “good statistics: about 20,000 spectators”, he comments. For him, this trip to video is not surprising. “For Instagram, the “right” ones only have benefits as they are videos that you can scroll through randomly, indefinitely, which keeps internet users trapped. So I see more and more photographers taking real pictures, because there is something immediate about video thanks to today’s phones. They also get many more views and bring new people to your account. »
10,000 subscribers in two months
The same thought comes from the war photographer Éric Bouvet, who, during his coverage of the Ukrainian conflict, renewed himself with what he calls “sonoramas”: “It’s my voice that comments on photo projections, a more direct, more intimate format that in two months has made me go from 35,000 to 45,000 subscribers,” he said. he congratulates himself. In the sixties, after working for the press for forty years, he completely changed his economic model: “I speak directly to my community without going through the traditional media. So it’s those who buy pictures for me who come to my workshops … “ But if it now depends directly on social networks, he was barely aware of the change in the algorithm. “Our subjects have always gone beyond the eye, because we must tirelessly find new ways of dealing with other subjects. So it does not change much for me. Above all, I have the impression of seeing a lot more advertising. » An observation that Boris Allin also shares: “I have the impression that the algorithms have tightened the screw to pressure people to consume sponsorship: Now, as soon as I publish a picture, I receive a notification offering me ten euros to increase it. No doubt they trying to make Instagram more profitable … ”
“Maybe I’ll return to it, but in the meantime I’d rather take a break”
Algorithm change or not, the Spanish photographer Cristina de Middel, 47, represented by the prestigious Magnum agency, 67,800 subscribers, has just deleted the application from her phone. “Instagram was before photography. Today it has become people who dance, she regrets. It was a distraction for me, more than a professional tool. Maybe I’ll return to it, but in the meantime, I prefer to take a break. » Especially since the development of the platform has not managed to change one thing: the hateful comments below its images. “It is difficult to be a woman on a social network. If posting pictures leads to a connection between the quality of my work and my weight, I do not have the energy to expose myself to what I prefer to take pictures! »