First things first, I do not have any affiliation with Instagram, Chatbooks or Gramblr. I am writting about them because they are products and services I use personally and have a good experience with. That means, they didn’t pay me or give me free stuff to say this.
Earlier this year, when I upgraded to a new smartphone, I started to really use Instagram because the phones camera is really good compared to my last phone. I have to say that I am a social media addict like most people and I especially love Instagram because I am a visual person. I think it is a great way to share images and for photographers I think it is revolutionary. It is a fantastic way to share your work around the world for others to see. It provides a much larger audience than Facebook where your friends are, plus, Facebook will charge you a fee to reach more people, Instagram is free. All you need to do is add a “Hashtag” and that image is available to whoever searches for or looks at images under that tag. It is a great way to network with other photographers who have similar interest. Then all you do is follow them and you get to see all the images they post daily, assuming you like their images that is. Instagram is also a great marketing tool.
The only problem I have had with Instagram, is that it is only for mobile devices and while you can look at your feed on a computer and change your account settings, there is really no way to upload images from you computer to Instagram. You have to email it your self, add it to you mobile devices gallery and then upload it to Instagram. Well, enter the third party software. I found Gramblr, it is a free software you can add to your computer that allows you to add an image from your computer to your Instagram feed. It works great, but you have to crop your image into a square first, and honestly, I love the square format. It reminds me of shooting medium format film, remember that stuff? Film? So now with Gramblr, there is an easy way to add your images to Instagram that is much less troublesome and with fewer steps.
After I started using Instagram, my friend and fellow photographer introduced me to Chatbooks. By the time I downloaded the app to my phone, I had enough images for the first there volumes. Chatbooks works by creating a photobook out of your Instagram images. Each volume is numbered and dated, and can have up to 60 images. The app allows you to pick and choose the images as well as rearrange their order in the book and it will add your captions to the page as well. You can also have more than one series, meaning you could have a series for family photos, and another for your fine art images. Well, yesterday I finally received my first three Chatbooks. I had ordered them over a month ago and I was surprised when the didn’t show up on time. I waited and waited and waited, finally at the 30 day mark, I reached out to their customer service. They were great, they responded in under an hour and wanted to verify my address, turns out it was correct. The books were printed and shipped via U.S. Mail, but never arrived. Chatbooks reprinted my three books and I had them in the mail four days later. Now that’s good customer service.
Chatbook print quality is fairly good, but don’t expect them to be printed like a fine art coffee table book. The print quality is only as good as the image quality. So if you have a phone with a bad camera or have poor exposures, it will print poorly in the book. I noticed that images taken by my old phone did not print as well as those with my new phone. Images that are taken with plenty of light where you don’t need too high an ISO, print very well. Well enough that I may use Chatbooks to print some little keepsake books of some of my art images. Chatbooks are a great way to print all those images you take on you phone and end up doing nothing with. Sort of like the new family photo album. The books are 6″ by 6″ and the images are printed 4″ by 4″. They are inexpensive and you can order as many copies of the book as you want. Hmm, what a great gift idea…