Baltimore photographers drop Instagram amid concerns that photos could appear in ads

While many average users of Instagram are taking a wait-and-see approach after widespread complaints about its new privacy policy, a few Baltimore photographers are already pulling the plug on the popular photo-sharing service. 

The changes go into effect in mid-January, the most contentious point being Instagram's ability to sell users' photos without informing or paying them. But local freelance photographer J.M. Giordano wasn't taking any chances. He canceled his account and moved over to a rival service, Flickr, Tuesday. 

Photographer Ryan Stevenson -- who goes by RaRa professionally -- was still on an assignment when he heard about the changes, but he was planning on giving Instagram the heave-ho when he gothome, calling the move "just evil."

"I don't like the idea that my hard work can basically be stolen," says Stevenson who teaches photography for the Creative Alliance and regularly shoots for the Baltimore City Paper. "There is not a single photographer in the world that would accept those terms. Even if they changed it back, it's too little, too late."

Stevenson and Giordano were hardly alone as celebrities like actress Mia Farrow and New York Times columnist Charles Blow took to Twitter to complain and as national tech blogs began publishing how-to guides on canceling Instagram.

Giordano started using Instagram a few years ago and has taken more than 1,000 images with the iPhone app. He used the service mostly for fun, but also to promote his work. "In the end, it just makes your cell phone photos look better," he says. Giordano has shot photos for the City Paper, The Baltimore Sun and fashion magazines like ID.

"I understand they have to make money," Giordano says of Instagram. "But as a professional photographer, I believe the person shooting should always get credit." 

Stevenson said he just recently started using Instagram, used has the app as a "photographer's notebook," getting behind-the-scenes photos from shoots. But the humble photos can prove popular. He said recently sold about $400 worth of prints of Instagram photos.

Not everyone was ready to kill their Instagram account. Some voices on social media were calling the response over blown.

On New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer blog, Kevin Roose wrote: "Your photos are not that interesting...Given the choice between buying a photo of Ryan Seacrest's fruit salad and yours, which is Au Bon Pain going to go with?"

Josh Sisk, a freelance photographer for The Sun and The Washington Post, is known for his aggresive use of Instagram, and he's not ready to give up on the app just yet. Instead, he's considering no longer posting professional work to Instagram and updating his privacy settings. He says he'll still post simple snapshots and food photos though. 

"The thing that bums me out is that I was doing stuff like instagramming from news events, like the Trayvon Martin rally, and thus getting the images out immediately via a people-friendly platform" Sisk says. "But now I'm leery of posting portfolio-worthy photos."




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