Uber-popular social photo application, Instagram, has the ability to turn even the most ordinary photographer into the next Annie Leibovitz or National Geographic front cover photog.
Perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration. But with its easy-to-use uploading process that includes a post-production rack focus and over a dozen filters to choose from, it's hard not to feel like a semi-pro when you see yourself producing one gorgeous photo after another. It's a no-brainer that Instagram reigned as the most popular free application in the App Store after it was acquired by Facebook. And then it went on to gain over five million Android users in less than a week once it launched on that platform. It enables us to portray our world in the uniquely beautiful ways we view it.
As is customary on the web, when one thing explodes, you can expect to find a wave of websites, applications and services to offer you various ways to enrich your experience. Here are five unique ways to enjoy your Instagram gems online and offline.
1) Enjoy and interact on a web interface
One of the not-so-great features of Instagram is you can only view one photo at a time when you pull it up on a web browser, and creeping an entire album is not that user-friendly. Luckily that's where no-nonsense web interfaces like Webbygram come in. All you need to do is login with your Instagram account and it lets you view and interact with all the photos on your stream and your album like you would on the app itself. If you want something a little more interactive and social, perhaps Webstagram is more to your liking. You can not only view, like and comment on photos of your followers, but you can browse Instagram for the most popular photos as the site features a Photo of the Day where they encourage users to submit their best pics to #photooftheday. A daily winner is featured. (Psst prizes are available as well.)
2) Create Magnets from your Instagram
And now we bring your 2-D photos into the real world with a service called Stickygram. They describe themselves as a "personalized printing service that turns your Instagram images into lovely little magnets." Simple as that. They seem to be flexible 50mm x 50mm images, come in packs of nine and you can order them straight to your door for $14.99. Booyah.
3) Poster-ize your Instagram gallery
As an avid Instagrammer, this one made me squeal with delight. Mostly because I love the idea of turning my gallery into a giant poster.
Printstagram, I salute you! Not unlike Stickygram, they take the idea of bringing the photos into the offline world, enabling you to enjoy and share them in an entirely different way. You can turn your Instagram photos into posters, mini prints, stickers, T-shirts (coming soon!) and even teeny tiny books. Let's not question the point of why one might require a teeny tiny book, but rather squeal with the adorable notion of it.
4) Square photos for unsquare people
Alright I took that title right from Snapstagram's Kickstarter campaign. But it's catchy and describes exactly what you're getting: your Instragam photos as high-quality 4" x 4" prints. It's funny because with all the digital advancements in the world, this just takes you right back to where we started; this is perfect for anyone who yearns for that retro analog experience. You use your mobile phone and an app to take beautiful shots, and then Snapstagram "develops" the photos for you to put in an album, frame around your home or simply share them with family and friends. Check out their video from their Kickstarter campaign.
5) Cherish your memories on...a ceramic tile?
As random as this sounds, after browsing through the service, I couldn't help but feel like Imagesnap has got a cool thing going. This is definitely more about presentation, but this service offers the option to get your favourite Instagram photos printed onto tiles in seven different sizes. The Teeny Tile includes self-adhesive magnets you can stick onto the back. The Classic is encouraged to be enjoyed on an easel or even as backsplash for your bathroom or kitchen. And then there's The Slab, which is a 12" x 12" ceramic tile of your best shot that is meant to make a bold statement.
The best thing about all these services is they're all very reasonably priced and seem to ship not only in the U.S. and Canada, but all around the world.
I have one last gem, that didn't quite fit into the Top 5, but it's for all you real photographers, the purists, that love the look of Instagram filters but can't bear to create those shots with anything other than vintage cameras and talent? Then you should spend some time on 1000 memories' Old School Instagram Filters. Enjoy!