The Joy of Avoiding Instagram

Sharing photos outside of social media made me feel good about photography again

Tareq Ismail
Published in
6 min readNov 8, 2019


Credit: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

IIt’s never been easier to share a photo with others than it is today. You can share photos of your vacation with friends on Facebook, perfectly frame that shot for your Instagram followers, or broadcast a moment as it happens live with your audience on Twitter. Social media has taken over how, and why, we take photos.

It has become second nature to think of the medium or the person a photo will be shared with before we even stare through the camera’s viewfinder. The phrase “do it for the gram” is a perfect example of how people do things purely for the sake of posting a photo of that moment to Instagram.

Taking a photo with the intention of sharing with others is a reflection of our species’ need to connect and socialize. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it. I have discovered, however, that increasing the diversity of where I share photos, especially when those outlets are outside of traditional social media, can make photography much more joyful.

Local Guides on Google Maps

Google Maps, like Yelp and other similar services, allow users to contribute reviews and photos of destinations they’ve experienced. They’ve combined all of your contributions into a single service called Local Guides. Google is trying to build a community using Local Guides by organizing meetups, tracking points, and giving badges for the quantity and quality of what you contribute. As I increased my activity as a Local Guide, my thought process around why I would take a photo changed. Before, I would ask myself: Who would want to see what I’m doing or experiencing? Now, keeping Local Guides in mind, I wonder who would benefit from learning about my impression of a place or experience. The goal of this type of sharing is to be informative and helpful, not merely expressive about personal experience.