Cups & flowers. If there ever was an Instagram cliché perhaps this would be it. I didn’t set out to share one, in fact when I started creating these photos (quite by accident I might add) I hadn’t seen them before. Doubtless someone else had tried them too but it certainly wasn’t a ‘thing’ I had come across.
I began creating these photographs simply through enjoyment. The satisfaction of an instant form of art to which there is little purpose beyond looking pretty. I stopped creating them for a long time last year after a friend directly copied several of them. Even when I asked her to stop she continued and – last time I looked – had shared some more. But then, earlier this year, I remembered why I love creating them.
I am also sure that some of the people who take similar photos have never even come across me or mine, I am not arrogant enough to assume they have. There are now folk who have based large parts of their gallery on this idea and yes, some of their creations are beautiful.
But I do think my photos have played their part in creating an Instagram cliché and for that alone I have a love/hate relationship with them. They are undeniably popular and I have gained many new followers because of them. But do I care? Is that a hollow victory of sorts? Does it matter? Am I bothered about the numbers game…?
I guess perhaps what I struggle with (maybe the ultimate purpose of this post) is that these photo’s have to be created. It isn’t a case of seeing the same building or having a coffee at the same café. Of coincidence or circumstance. There is an intentional element. And when others share them I do wonder what inspired them to do so? Where did the idea come from…?
There are so many instances of people directly copying my arrangements now that I do feel justified in flagging it up here. Not through vanity, it is merely fact. I am not OK with this. It feels personal. My feelings vary from indifference to feeling insulted and even upset at times and I always struggle to like and comment on them.
You see I adore these photos. For me they represent a journey, you can see how they developed in my hashtag. The very first post, the one which sparked the idea, involved a trailing vetch I found on the forest floor which just curled itself that way. I have my favourites, an early one with Virginia Creeper. A more recent one with dark leaved Clematis Montana. And some of the wilder flowers without such precise arrangements.
Each time I post one I do so with a hint of wondering where it will pop up next, as they often do. Folk remove the centre and write words in them. I began watermarking my calendar as they wander so far across the internet! I found some of my cups & flowers photos on Pinterest with thousands of re-pins – shared by and tagged to other people which is wrong on so many levels. But that’s a discussion for another day. And then there are always the copies that inevitably surface over time. Undeniably popular but not always with credit where it’s due.
Because the thing is I am just me. A normal person living a normal life who happens to have a very small corner of the internet. This Instagram thing just happened for me, I didn’t intentionally seek it like so many people now do. I will be forever grateful to it for lifting me out of a deep depression at a difficult time in my life story. It gave me a purpose. I don’t feel equipped for this and have no idea at all how to deal with the very real reaction I feel to seeing others constantly share an idea I came up with, even though I know how irrational that may sound. And I know (as I said) that some will never even have come across me at all. I mostly shrug it off as in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter, it isn’t going to bring world peace. But there have been countless times when I have reacted in a less dignified manner.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – or so the saying goes – well this may be the case but it doesn’t automatically follow that the person being imitated is awfully happy about it.
This post is simply a way to get this off my chest. To let go of the frustration hopefully and try and reconcile the knowledge that this will go on whether I like it or not. I will maybe find a way to deal with it. Maybe I won’t. Instagram is now so full of people, styles and ‘types’ of photo that it becomes more and more difficult to have an individual voice.
But I was there, over 2 years ago, sharing cups & flowers before it was a ‘thing’ at all…
Postscript – one week later
This post has been immensely helpful. Since writing it I have seen countless photos of cups & flowers. I have ignored them all and a couple have been such close copies that I would be perfectly justified in filing copyright claims to have Instagram remove them. But you know what? I have better things to do with my time and so many more ideas in my head. You want to post them, go ahead, I choose originality but it seems some folk don’t. I will always have been there first, you can see the journey and it’s development in my gallery. And I’m bored now.
It’s old news, time to move on xx