A couple months ago I realized that Instagram has become a heavily-used venue for many types of visual communication. People are taking photos with their phones of anything and everything. They filter them to look cool. Others are uploading photos to their phones from their DSLRs and film cameras to share, because IG can only be posted from a mobile device. Instagram has even added video options now. I the 15 months I’ve had an account there, more people have responded to my posts than most other places. As human beings we are suckers for the Likes, Loves, or Faves we get online from sites like Facebook, Eyeem, Streamzoo, Trover, Foursquare, Foodspotting, Twitter, or IG. It’s nice to know that people are looking at, and enjoying, the things we offer up to The Intertubes.
In all of this, I realized that a medium like Instagram could also be a venue for sharing older extra-awesome film photos.
Let’s face it: The world around us was captured long before the iPhone existed. The evidence is there, sometimes buried in the back of a drawer or languishing in a box on a garage shelf. There may not have been as many pictures of cats or food back then, but life was captured nonetheless. There are billions of photos, negatives, plates and slides out there, waiting to be discovered and shared with the world. Some people thrive on finding old prints in thrift stores or antique malls. One man is setting out to retrieve and save millions of film photos and negatives from illegal dumps in China. For me it as easy as grabbing pictures from the family archives, or visiting The Commons at Flickr.
And from this treasure trove I created Old Gold Filtered using Instragram.
My goal was simple: Highlight cool shots from 30 years ago and back that are okay for me to use – Public Domain, Creative Commons, or my own stash. The subject matter can capture the rich and the varied; some days I will post a portrait while others will be a structure or an airplane. Occasionally there’s a cute kid or critter. Anything that catches my eye might end up with an #oldgoldfiltered tag.
The other day I posted a picture I took of Downtown Seattle from a helicopter in 1975:
No long after it was picked up by someone and posted to Reddit. Within 24 hours it had over 10,000 views on Flickr. Why on earth would like little 600-pixel square photo have such an impact? I think it’s because many people love looking into the past, to appreciate the comparison/constrast with today’s world. There is also the notion that good style and composition are timeless accessories to any subject. The fact that a simple image can evoke and extract emotion is a beautiful thing. No words, just the visual to give a message of hope, love, laughter, sadness, humor, or community. And putting that kind of yesterday on IG just seems natural to me now.
Currently the newest picture is a personal photo from 1981, showing friend Jeff and I standing in front of his 1972 Chevy Nova:
And the oldest? A very spooky one from 1865 by noted 19th Century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron:
Check out the entire Old Gold Filtered collection on Flickr!