Dark Mode Can Fix Photography

You can listen to an audio version of this blog here.

Dark Mode is finally on Instagram.

Technically, I’ve had dark mode before it was cool because I’ve been shadowbanned for quite some time, so basically I’ve been living in the dark for quite a while.

My photos look way better now though.

Basically, the reason we watch movies in dark theaters is basically so that the image is enhanced. It’s much easier on our eyes and puts the focus on what you’re looking at. Having photos against a white background is terribly painful and causes eye strain, but not only that, the photos have to be almost “overbright” in order to compete with a super white background.

We’ve obviously gotten along just fine, but I will say that smartphones and social media has taught us some bad photography habits that having “dark mode” before now would have easily solved.

Photos on Instagram would have probably been more interesting

White walls and coffee were prevalent with early Instagram because of the overarching white aesthetic of Instagram. Because of probably, Apple, everything in early days was supposed to be more stark and white, much like most Apple products at the time. Therefore, the medium became the message, and the goal was to match the gallery, rather than presenting your work in it.

Photos were seen as good if they fit within the rules of Instagram, yet outside Instagram, they couldn’t hold up.

Often people would add white borders to compliment the whiteness, and we all became “white wall seeking missiles” in order to make sure we stayed in line with the Instagram style guide. I think we’ve generally moved away from this, largely, probably because all the white-walled, stark coffee shops have mostly gone out of business (due to an unsustainable business model of 3 menu items, refer to the Official WMP Coffee Shop Rating System) At the end of the day, our goal has really been to appease the Instagram aesthetic rather than creating meaningful work, which is why most Instagram photos are incredibly uninteresting.

We would have been more like sharks

How are those white borders looking now? Obviously, dark mode isn’t mandatory, but suddenly it’s no guarantee that everyone will be seeing your feed the way you’re seeing it. We can no longer rely on everyone’s feed looking the same, and therefore, we actually may have to focus on the images themselves. Just like that, a curated gallery can look like crap, and that’s life.

Instagram can also keep people from seeing your photos, so suddenly my tactics have to change. As a photographer, Instagram is hugely important, so I’m trying to figure out more effective ways of using it, which I know are out there. It’s forced me to stop simply posting and copy and pasting my hashtags that I have saved in my notes, and now I’m having to get a little more creative.

Color wouldn’t have had to make a come back

In the early 2010s, Instagram felt like 1984 (the book not the year) because color would break the rules of how you’re supposed to post on Instagram to some extent. Yesterday, I was blown away by how much color I was suddenly seeing in my feed, just from dark mode. Colors just don’t stand out against white, so monochromatic and color drained photos were more the norm. In fact, an argument could be made as to why VSCO film filters got big: faded colors just looked better against the white background.

It’s such a small change, but has really changed the look of photos on Instagram. Since, generally, we decide how to shoot based on the medium, I think photos could change for the better, just from dark mode.

You can listen to an audio version of this blog here.