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Instagram ‘Photo Dumps’: Casual Or Overly Curated?

These posts usually aren’t as effortless as they seem.

An iPhone with apps on it including Instagram
Credit: Flickr/The Focal Project

A recent trend on Instagram has been posting ‘photo dumps’ – a selection of photos from the user’s camera roll, posted in a swipe-along format. What makes these posts distinctive is that they seem effortless and authentic, with the photos capturing casual moments such as a sunset, a walk in the park, or a glass of wine.

However, are these spontaneous posts actually as genuine and effortless as they seem? Or, like most other Instagram posts, are they carefully chosen and edited to seem nonchalant?

How The Trend Began

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Instagram users could no longer post pictures of holidays, parties, or going out with friends – unless they were a #throwback. As a result of pandemic restrictions, many people acquired a new-found appreciation for the simpler things in life. Our feeds became filled with photos of pets, beautiful sunrises, and home-cooked meals. Arising from these circumstances, the term ‘photo dump’ was first widely used as a means to share small moments.

Support For The Trend

Supporters of the trend argue that it encourages people to share pictures of more realistic and mundane moments. Holiday posts gain a lot of likes and attention, but that isn’t the reality of our everyday lives. Not everything we do is exciting and ‘Instagrammable’, and this trend supports that.

Even celebrities are getting in on the ‘photo dump’ action. Stars like Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid and SZA have all embraced the trend. If you’re interested to see what big-name celebs do to unwind in their time off, check out their photo dumps. This trend can make celebrities seem more relatable when their casual, ‘out of hours’ moments are captured.

But Are These Posts Really As Nonchalant As They Seem?

In a bid to seem low-effort, people ironically take much care to send a message of nonchalance. It is often wrong to assume that photos are effortlessly chosen from the user’s camera roll, even when that is the created impression. Many photos are still edited, filtered, and carefully chosen.

This is because the trend has acquired a certain aesthetic to it, meaning that people are particular about which photos they include. Whether that is an active or subconscious thought process, we still care about the overall image of our profiles.

For example, pages of books with highlighted quotes and late-night glasses of wine are popular features of photo dumps. It is inevitable, therefore, that people now specifically take these pictures to contribute to their photo dump at the end of the month. In this way, the posts aren’t authentic at all, because these photos are taken specifically with the purpose of the photo dump in mind.

However, that is the very nature of social media itself – we capture moments in order to curate our online presence. Photo dumps are no exception to this.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t fun, though!

As with any social media, you can’t assume that photo dumps accurately represent someone’s life. However, they are certainly more authentic than posed selfies and much of the influencer culture we have today.

Overall, there is certainly a place for photo dumps in our online space. They encourage the sharing of small moments and inject a refreshing dose of randomness and relatability onto our Instagram feeds. Photo dumps remind us of the original aim of Instagram – to share what we’ve been up to, big and small, with our close friends and family.

Written By

Hey! I'm Chloe, an aspiring culture and lifestyle writer. Interested in all things internet culture, food, and TV & film. Currently an intern for Trill Magazine and undergrad at Durham University studying History and English. Follow me over on Twitter @chloetypeswords to see what I'm doing elsewhere.

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