by Janelle Sessoms
A pair of shoes. A shadow. A mirror selfie. Plants. A random building. A sunset. These are only a few things you may see when someone posts a “photo dump” on Instagram. Photo dumps are random photos from a camera roll that someone will upload in a carousel post with absolutely no meaning behind it. Consider it a type of digital diary. They are only for your pleasure and enjoyment.
Photo dumps started trending last year during quarantine. After being stuck in the house for months, it was hard to get inspired and keep up the personas we wear on social media. From this, photo dumps were born. It was a way to stay connected in our digital world when we couldn’t be further apart. But it was also a time of complete authenticity.
Photo dumps are the closest we’ve been to seeing someone’s actual life without editing or staged moments. It’s somewhat of a flashback to the first years of Instagram, where people used it to post things we cared about or something that inspired us. There was no photoshopping, collaborations, or extensive editing.
These unfiltered photo dumps create a sense of authenticity that was practically nonexistent on Instagram. The app has been called out numerous times because it has negatively affected mental health, stress, and insecurities. Rachel Cohen, a psychologist and researcher from the Black Dog Institute at the University of New South Wales, talks about the negative effects social media culture has on the mind and body in an article with Buzzfeed.
“The problem with Instagram is that celebrity culture has almost become exponentially and infinitely worse — because not only is it now your Kardashians or your elite celebrity, now it’s your everyday person,” Cohen said. “There are so many influencers and people out there who are getting elevated to that status and there’s exponentially more opportunities to compare yourself with people.”
Photo dumps are a breath of fresh air compared to the Instagram we are all used to seeing. It’s not about looking perfect anymore and putting on a front. Instead, it’s a low maintenance and stress-free way of sharing moments from our day-to-day lives. Even A-list celebrities have hopped on the bandwagon, including Bella Hadid, Kylie Jenner, Megan Thee Stallion, and SZA.
Having the opportunity to see random photos and moments from some of the top celebrities and influencers gives them a sense of humanity. It also provides relatability for fans and is a reminder that we are all people, who at the end of the day, are just trying to live our lives to the fullest.
In 2020, millions of photos were uploaded and captioned with the term “photo dump.” Now in 2021, the heat has started to die down. As the world has started to open up, and we begin to socialize with each other, Instagram is slowly turning back into the curation of filtered lives as it was before. Though this tendency to show off the flawless parts of ourselves is, unfortunately, now just part of the Instagram game, it would be a real shame for photo dumps to die off permanently.
There was something refreshing about seeing the carefree moments of daily life. It took off the stress that social media brings and showed us all that we can share our lives with others and still have fun with it. So let's keep the photo dump trend alive and be open to showing our authentic selves to the world.