If you live in Baltimore and you’re on Instagram, there’s a good chance you’ve come across @flynnfinity aka Josh Flynn. Flynn, who lives and works in Baltimore, won the award for “Best Instagram” at the Mobbies this year.
The Darkroom caught up with Flynn about Instagram’s Terms of Service debacle, his series #baileystraightchillin and the advantages of using a camera phone on the fly.
INSTAGRAM HANDLE: @flynnfinity
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I’m really interested in creative endeavors in many forms. Instagram has been a medium that I didn’t expect to use the way I have, but I think it’s great. I live in between Canton and Fells Point with my hilarious dog Bailey and take photos of things I see as I am going through life.
IN LIGHT OF RECENT EVENTS, CAN YOU SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON INSTAGRAM’S NEW TERMS OF SERVICE, WHICH HAS HAS BEEN ALL A BUZZ IN THE PHOTO COMMUNITY THIS WEEK. HOW DO YOU THINK IT WILL AFFECT THE INSTAGRAMMER COMMUNITY, ESPECIALLY THE BALTIMORE COMMUNITY? WHAT DOES IT MEAN, PERSONALLY, FOR YOU?
Instagram is already rolling back some of the TOS changes to try to prevent people from leaving, but I think regardless, the original changes have set a precedent for the direction the app is headed under Facebook’s ownership. It is already having an impact on the Instagram community and at this point the main change is that people will be more aware about what they post online, which they should be anyway. It’s not any different from posting photos on Facebook for the most part, their ambiguity around how they can use your data and photos has always been a point of contention with users. For me personally, it won’t really change the way I use Instagram, but I do think it will change the big picture moving forward for these kinds of social networks.
DO YOU THINK THERE’S ANY EMERGING MOBILE PHOTO COMMUNITIES THAT COULD SERVE AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO INSTAGRAM?
I have seen a lot of Instagram users saying they are moving over to Flickr with the new app updates. Flickr has long been a place for photographers to share work and they are much more conscious about letting the photographer dictate the rights to their photos. This model seems much more sustainable and I think people will feel more comfortable interacting with a service that allows them to make decisions about how their photos can or can’t be used.
NOW, LET’S TALK EQUIPMENT, WHAT’S YOUR MOBILE PHOTOGRAPHY SETUP?
I shoot everything on an iPhone 4s that I post on Instagram. I also have an Olloclip, which I love. The apps I use most are Snapseed, VSCO CAM and Camera+.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO SHOOT?
I like architecture; Baltimore’s neighborhoods are great for photos. Animals are usually entertaining to photograph and everybody loves them. It’s always cool when I am able to pull off good street photography, too.
A LOT OF PEOPLE I KNOW LOVE THE #BAILEYSTRAIGHTCHILLIN SERIES. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE SERIES? HOW’D YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA? AND HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE BAILEY? IS HE A WILLING PARTICIPANT? HOW IS HE TAKING TO FAME? I’VE NOTICED THAT OTHER PET OWNERS HAVE EVEN RECREATED THEIR OWN #BAILEYSTRAIGHTCHILLIN PHOTOS.
I was walking with Bailey in Harbor East one day and saw this brick wall in what I believe was a towing yard and decided to take a photo of Bailey. He was tired from walking, so he stayed relatively still and he kicks his leg out to the side like he is lounging around — hence straight chillin.
I did a couple more on walks around my neighborhood, then the reaction was really positive from people so I continued with it, and still try to get them in when I can.
Bailey is usually a pretty good sport about it, I tend to do them after we’ve been walking for a while. He definitely gets annoyed though, keeps walking away, won’t look at the camera. I had a few people I’d never met before at Hampdenfest stop me to say hello to Bailey, so he’s taking his fame in stride.
ANY TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHING PETS YOU’VE PICKED UP THAT MIGHT HELP THE REST OF US WITH OUR OWN ATTEMPTS?
I think it really just takes persistence and patience, and try to snap a lot of photos. Every pet is going to be different and in my experience, most pets will pretty much do anything to avoid looking directly into the lens.
Using geotags and hashtags is a great tool to share your photos and find other people who have either been at that location, or have photographed similar things. It’s all about connecting with other people — it’s as much an app about people as it is about photos.
Don’t post the same type of photo all the time, try to do something different. Not only is it more interesting for followers, it’s also more satisfying personally. Also, it’s just Instagram, some people take it too seriously.
ANY ADVICE FOR MOBILE PHOTOGRAPHERS?
The saying, “The best camera is the one you have on you” is becoming more applicable with advancements in cameras on phones at such a rapid pace. I can’t tell you how many amazing photos in my life I would had missed if my phone didn’t have a camera, and it happens to be a fairly decent one. One of the best things about mobile photography is being able to shoot moments as they happen without needing to have a big piece of equipment on hand. Take advantage of it.
FIVE INSTAGRAMMERS YOU RECOMMEND FOLLOWING:
@jlujan – D.C.-based Instagrammer with a lot of creativity, great shots and edits. Amazing black and white photos.
@strange_agent – A steady stream of well-composed photos from D.C. and Maryland. Minimal editing and really strong imagery.
@terrajane – Great shots around Baltimore with a focus on graffiti and street art. Great colors and edits, too.
@bfleezee – I am probably biased since he is my brother, but Bryan takes amazing photos.
@scottlane – Scott was one of the first people I started following on Instagram, his vision and tones are amazing. He also experiments a lot with editing and inspired me to do the same.