When one gets ten pictures in a row that use this Hipstamatic filter, one just wants to throw them in the shitter.

A slightly misguided and perhaps demented soul submitted a Hipstamatic print of a rotting dead cat to Pixels today, along with four other Hipstamatic shots using the same filter/lens combo – the green one as in this shot of the toilet to the left. It wasn’t a joke, like my Hipstamatic Dong Warmer or my Hipstamatic Junky Bear Has Just OD’ed shots. I don’t know what the submitter was thinking and don’t want to know. However, it pushed me over the edge, finally, regarding this hugely popular app, Hipstamatic.

Any number of people who have submitted Hipstamatic images to this site have received letters from me suggesting they minimize its use and to explore any of the hundreds of other fine photo apps available. I write these notes because I see evidence of a very good eye – solid composition, etc. – in the images, which are overwhelmed by the Hipstamatic imprint.

Hipstamatic is extremely popular: in the top 100 apps at the app store all the time, huge groups on flickr, hipsta websites, contests, you name it.

As such, I have been warned by a good friend and advisor to be careful in my remarks, since Hipsta IS so popular and I don’t want to be the asshole fighting the tide.


I fully intend to heed his admonishments.

So allow me, before I go on, to float a book idea for any of you Hipsta-lovers out there: a Hipstamatic photo essay of crack whores shot it seedy motels across America, or just in Oakland, who cares? Now, you could self-publish in on Blurb and make a fortune. No need to attribute this site for inspiration. Thanks. You are welcome.

Hipstamatic imprints images – in the exact same way on every print – so heavily, it obliterates the personality of the person taking the shot. Very few images are strong enough to overcome this. When I look at art, any art, I want to, in part, get to know the artist behind the work. Ninety percent of the time, all I learn about the person using Hipstamatic is that this person uses Hipstamatic.

As a champion of, and self-appointed guardian to, this nascent art-from of ours, I feel compelled to make a case against the over-use of this app. Almost any use is over-use at this point. Mark my words, someday the Hipsta-lovers will look at their old galleries and shudder, much as civilized people do when remembering the shoulder-pads of the eighties, or the illbient trip-hop a la Tricky of  a decade ago.

I get batches of Hipstamatic images, sometimes two or three batches a day. When I see that the person clearly has an eye for composition, I will write a note that often sounds something like this:

Are these all done with Hipstamatic?

I highly recommend you stop using it. I am getting to the point where I don’t want it on the site, I get so many pictures made with it. They all look the same to me.  It makes such a heavy and predictable imprint on the image, it tells me more about Hipstamatic than about you.

I am not looking for cool pictures, but rather, art. Hipstamatic is way too cool most of the time.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have its place, and some people take Hipstamatic images and further process them to good result. This I encourage.

You are not the first recipient of an email like this from me and you won’t the last. But be assured I only send it to people who have a good eye for composition and who would benefit from exploring other apps.

And then I get replies:

Feedback is always welcomed. Funny that you used “in need of direction” as example because that’s how I’ve felt lately. Didn’t really get into seriously taking pictures till about 6 months ago. Definitely feel I’ve been seduced a little too much by hipstamatic.

And this from an artist in Europe:

Like this Hipstamatic app for example. I know I used and abused it. I even grew tired of it myself, because the choice of the best effects and films is finally quite limited, then all pictures look a bit the same. It’s not even worth talking about the resolution, a real pain.

Anyway, from now on, I will follow your enlightening advice, all the more as I have the appropriate tools to improve: my iPhone’s got about three pages full of photo apps…I should get inspired as well by your work and all the pictures you publish.

Others ignore me or tell me to mind my own business as they have every right.

No app is all bad. There are a number of Hipsta images in the OakBook show, and the filtering is appropriate to the shots.

And I’ve seen many times where people take Hipsta images and apply further appage to them for some very wonderful and creative and vibrant results. This I applaud and encourage. In fact, I have been told by someone in the know that the Hipstamatic folks utterly hate it when people re-app a Hipstamatic image. This being the case, I mega-encourage this.

I actually really like Hipstamatic black-and-white filters a lot, although there is a certain sameness to the images as with the Hipsta color filters.

There is the problem of the frame it puts around every image. This is great for slipping in the company name and for posting on flickr, but now that we are printing out large format images on archival papers, for real framing, digital image frames are somewhat redundant.

Hipsta has its place, but I suggest using it sparingly. I encourage every iPhontographer to explore other apps. There are any number of other “vintage” apps out there which produce great results. The important part is to explore and try new things. Stretch out. Nothing is more important than composition of the image.

If you get the picture, it will tell you what apps to use to bring forth its truth for you.