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Photo dumping is the latest Instagram trend, but why are we so into it?

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Hollie Richardson
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’Photo dumping’ has become the latest trend on Instagram, but what is it? And why is it so popular right now?

Instagram has become the place for big moments, killer selfies and, let’s face it, plain showing off. Just visited the cool exhibition everyone in London is talking about? Quick, share a photo to prove it. Wearing a sold-out Rixo dress on a big night out with the girls? Get a crema filter on that, pronto. Partner proposed to you on holiday? It’s going to take 160 efforts to get the right angle of that engagement ring

Yep, we’re a bunch of boasters, each simultaneously contributing to and suffering at the hands of the digital age’s comparison culture. A new Instagram trend, however, suggests that we’re stepping away from this way of projecting the best bits of our lives, or at least changing the focus on what things in our personal stories we choose to celebrate. 

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It’s called photo dumping. Think back to Facebook photo albums (remember them?) and you’re on the right track – collections of photographs taken of every small but significant thing that happened on a night out, a holiday or a day simply spent in the park. At the last count, a #PhotoDump search found just under 400,000 photo dumps posted on people’s accounts. Instead of spending hours picking out the perfect shot to share, we’re putting them all up – a bit like a mood board of your life, including the quieter, blurry and less polished moments.

But why now?

It’s a way to ‘dump’ a load of photos at once to really tell a story or set a mood,” vegan beauty blogger Nicole says. “Usually these will have a theme to them – whether they’re odd snaps from across the weekend or a collection of your meals from the past week.

“They remind me of how we used to upload photos to Facebook – you’d dump lots of photos in an album after a weekend or event, not worrying too much about how aesthetically pleasing they were (thankfully, though, each IG post caps at 10 slides). I love them because it’s less about showing that one perfect shot from your life and more about  sharing moments, stories and memories. They feel less polished and more personal and authentic. 

“I also think they’re pretty popular right now because a lot of us suddenly have lives outside our homes again! We’ve got a lot we want to share and photo dumps an easy way of sharing loads in one post.”

“I love photo dumps because I feel like it takes you back to the early days of Instagram where you could just upload a bunch of random things and people would just enjoy the randomness of all these photos,” says content creator Amore. “It also comes across as much more real and authentic, as photo dumps can literally range from a day out to older ‘random camera roll’ pics that hadn’t yet made it to the ‘Gram.”

“I love how the photo dump trend brings a little authenticity back to Instagram,” says journalist Jessie. “When I first got the app several years ago, it was all about spontaneously sharing what new outfit you’d bought or what you were having for dinner that night, and I feel like it reverts back to that in a way. It’s about sharing quick snaps of fun times and memories, rather than carefully planned and curated content.”

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As we start to escape the restrictions of lockdown, it’s only natural that we see and appreciate the small joys of life that we perhaps once took for granted – meeting a friend in a pub, eating good food prepared in a restaurant, taking the train to the countryside. Of course we want to capture and share every moment of these rediscovered freedoms. 

But, yes – for everybody’s sake – it really is a good job that we can only dump 10 photos at a time. 

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…