IT has a reputation for bringing us the self-obsessed celebrity selfie and, famously, Kim Kardashian’s eye-popping belfie – a backwards looking photograph of her rear end.
But while photo and video sharing phone app Instagram might be the home of the drunken selfie and endless images of other people’s loaded dinner plates – often given an artistic twist thanks to a press of the filter button – it is also helping to showcase Edinburgh’s best side.
Thousands of stunning images of the city’s cobbled streets, atmospheric Old Town closes and grand New Town buildings – and, of course, endless scenes of the castle – all captured by locals and tourists as they go about their day-to-day business, are in constant circulation around the world.
And with the app boasting 200 million active users across the globe – 60 million images are posted every day – the snaps are inadvertently helping raise Edinburgh’s reputation as one of the world’s most photogenic cities, showcasing the capital to millions of potential visitors.
Dozens of new Edinburgh images were uploaded at the weekend, when local Instagramers gathered for a social meet up, charged with the challenge of finding new angles for their pictures in the heart of the city centre.
Many of the results – just a handful of them seen here – reveal a fascinating side to Edinburgh which even locals might often fail to observe.
According to Edinburgh Instameet organiser Steven Oates, who joined Instagram two years ago and now has 10,752 followers from around the world, the photo sharing app has exploded in popularity, with his smartphone photographs of Edinburgh’s most famous landmarks and picturesque Old Town scenes scoring thousands of “likes”.
“I started off with one friend who was also using Instagram and we’d just try to post an image each day,” recalls Steven, 36, who works for an Edinburgh finance firm and posts his images under his @wilde_oates account.
“Things built up, I got a couple of followers and then I became one of Instagram’s suggested users and I’ve ended up with 10,000 people following me.
“One picture I posted of Victoria Street a few weeks ago has had more than 1100 likes. Most of my followers are from the States, and a lot of comments I get are from people saying how incredible Edinburgh looks and how much they want to come here or how to get to somewhere when they do visit.
“It does sometimes feel like I’m acting as a tourist information service.”
Instagram was launched in 2010 and by the end of its first year had just one million users. It was taken over by Facebook in April 2012, by which time it had reached 30 million users. Since then the numbers logging on has soared, with 50 million signing up in the past six months alone. Around 20 billion pictures have been shared since its launch.
According to Steven, of Harrison Park, most Instagramers are keen amateur photographers who enjoy the challenge of finding something new to photograph from familiar locations. “It’s almost like keeping a visual diary of your life – wherever I go I’ll take a picture.
“Scotland – in particular Edinburgh – is very beautiful and we tend to forget that because we live here. But most people on Instagram aren’t from Edinburgh, they’ve never seen the castle and get very enthusiastic about it.
“If you search #edinburgh on Instagram, you’ll find an awful lot of selfies, but there are also hundreds of pictures of the castle, so the challenge then is to take a picture that’s not just of someone standing on the Esplanade.”
Pictures captured during the weekend Instameet are shared through the @igersedi Instagram account, which showcases the pic of the images from the event.
How to get started
SO, you fancy a crack at Instagram but no idea where to start?
Download the Instagram app to your phone. Instagram is a phone-based service, so while you can view Instagram images and scroll through your timeline on your laptop or PC, you can only post images using your phone.
Upload images from your phone’s photo gallery and use the filters provided by the app to smarten them up – even fairly plain images can be given an artistic tweak to make them look
Tag your image – #edinburgh, #scotland or anything relevant – to help other users find them and follow you. Just click to share. Instagram links to other social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter – you can instantly add your Instagram image to your other accounts. Or, if you prefer, lock your account to private.
Most new users start by following Instagram loving celebrities like Madonna, Jamie Oliver, Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan and Rihanna. Try these accounts for starters: igersedi and thisisedinburgh for assorted city images, edintfest for Edinburgh International Festival. Cracking New Town images courtesy of stockbridgeedinburgh while berriestagram showcases Scottish nature. Warning, hellolovecrumbs features a lot of cakes, wash them down with images from coffee lover pascalpics.