An Instagram account exposes how everyone's photos are starting to look the same — and it's striking

insta repeat phone in wild

  • There’s a repetitive „Instagram aesthetic“ used by a lot of people on the platform.
  • One account, Insta Repeat, collects similar images and turns them into collages.
  • You can find dozens of photos of the same cliff in Norway, or geological formation in Arizona, for example.
  • Some followers believe it reveals how manufactured the aesthetic really is.
  • The account now has 80,000 followers, and the person behind it said it’s sparked a discussion about the art of Instagram.

If you’ve spent some time on Instagram, you’ve probably had a lot of déjà vu.

People tend to flock to the same viral locations — Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, Norway’s Preikestolen cliff, Arizona’s Horseshoe Bend — and take photos from the same angles and with the same framing.

One Instagram account, Insta Repeat, brings that repetition into sharp focus. The person behind it collects similar images from the same places and edits them together. The resulting collages show a flood of nearly identical photos.

„I find the images ‚by hand,'“ the person behind Insta Repeat told INSIDER in an email. „I follow people who got into this folk, adventure ‚genre‘ then I comb through their profiles and screenshot anything that looks generic. Then I put things together after I dump everything onto the computer.“

Whether you’re in a slot canyon, in a tent, rowing through a lake, on top of a car on a mountain, someone has had that experience before. The account reveals how manufactured those images and experiences on Instagram can sometimes be and brings into question the idea that influencers spontaneously photograph their travels. 

Person standing at the edge of this one cliff 🌊 #personaloneinthewild

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jul 30, 2018 at 9:10pm PDT on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Person alone, centered, looking up in a slot canyon (mostly in Page, AZ) #personaloneinthewild

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jul 23, 2018 at 8:48pm PDT on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Feet in front of Horseshoe Bend 🍁

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jul 21, 2018 at 12:19am PDT on

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The account also features the same type of photos taken in different places, which shows that sometimes the aesthetic isn’t reliant on where people go, but how they communicate their experiences.

There are seven collages alone of people in a tent taking photos of their legs, feet facing the landscape, and another seven of people rowing in a canoe on a glassy lake, five of people dwarfed by waterfalls they’re looking at, three of people on long suspension bridges, and three of small red houses in the winter.

Tent Hole PT.VII

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jul 27, 2018 at 8:11pm PDT on

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Person centered rowing in canoe 🛶🛶PT. VII #canoesofinstagram

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jul 12, 2018 at 12:56am PDT on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Person centered in front of waterfall 💧 PT. V #personaloneinthewild

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jul 5, 2018 at 8:10pm PDT on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Suspension Bridge ❄️ PT.III

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jun 28, 2018 at 6:48pm PDT on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Top down centered on medium format camera 📸

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jul 29, 2018 at 10:01pm PDT on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Person centered, alone in the wild, above the clouds ☁️☁️☁️ #personaloneinthewild

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jul 28, 2018 at 8:59pm PDT on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Back of SUV in the wild with feet in frame

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jul 25, 2018 at 9:46pm PDT on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Vertical phone in the wild 📲PT.II

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jul 24, 2018 at 11:36pm PDT on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Top of car 🛴

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jul 19, 2018 at 9:38pm PDT on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Red house 🎪🎪🎪🎪🎪🎪🎪🎪🎪PT.VI #redhousesofinstagram

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jul 17, 2018 at 10:54pm PDT on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

The person behind Insta Repeat, who prefers to remain anonymous so she doesn’t shift the discussion from the project to her personal life, said she began it because she was fascinated by the repetition she encountered while scrolling through the app.

„The concept of originality and the simulacrum is super interesting to me,“ she said. „Replication on Instagram is a good way to explore that. I do have that all in mind when curating this account.“

Long exposure of one person centered, alone, at night with a light pointed up 🖤

A post shared by Insta Repeat (@insta_repeat) on Jul 31, 2018 at 9:22pm PDT on

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

It’s gained her nearly 80,000 followers so far. And though she tags the people who made the original photos to give them credit, it enrages some of the people she cites. She doesn’t mind.

„Every time someone gets into a fight in the comments section, or someone that I feature that has a ton of followers comments (even when it is negative), I get a boost in followers,“ she told Photo Shelter. „I think it has to do with the Instagram algorithm or something. Anyways, I say keep it coming!“

She also said that she appreciates that her account has sparked discussion about art, and the nature of putting photos on social media platforms like Instagram, which has its own social dynamics — does the person behind the camera genuinely appreciate nature, or are they taking the photo to gain followers?

That’s a question the person behind Insta Repeat wants to leave up to her followers.

„I do want people to make their own interpretations of my compilations,“ she told INSIDER. „One of my favorite things about the popularity boom in this account is the in-depth, critical discussions/debate about originality, what is original and what is art in the comment threads. It’s better than I could have ever asked for.“

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