Everyone Except Rihanna Embraced Instagram Photo Dumps In 2020

Savannah Walsh
·4-min read
Photo credit: Tim P. Whitby - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tim P. Whitby - Getty Images


It's been the year of the photo dump, a practice that involves grouping several disparate photos together for one casually captioned post. Everyone from the Hadids to the D'Amelios have gotten in on the action. But like most things in life, it couldn't be declared a certified trend until Rihanna acknowledged its existence. (In other words, most of us are never going mainstream.) Alas, Friday was the day that RiRi took one look at celebs and influencers photo dumping and said, "No, thank you."

Well, she actually wrote "phuck a photo dump," alongside one (1) photo of herself sporting a cherry-print bikini, pair of mini Chanel bags, and curly mullet that you'll think you can pull off until you remember that you are not, in fact, Rihanna.

Prior to Rihanna's eulogy of photo dumps, they were a fixture on our feeds. It was as if 2020 seemed so impossible that instead of curating a 'gram aesthetic or choosing a single photo to encapsulate our mood, we decided to lean into all of our emotions at once. Embracing the chaos meant posting several snaps and hoping it added up to something. Call it social media strategy or an expression of the uncertainty raging inside鈥攚e did a lot of photo dumping this year.

It must be noted, however, that when I say "we" posted photo dumps, I don't mean everyone. (Not even myself.) Typically, photo dumps are shared by one of two types of people. The first is your Pinterest-loving aunt from Iowa who shares 56 photos in a Facebook album documenting every second of her trip to Disneyland. Her mass upload is less about artful messaging than it is an inability to work technology.

Then there's the celebs whose photo dumps give off an air of superior casualness. In any given post, a blurry selfie is followed by a photo shoot candid, then a grainy meme presented without context, and concluding with a photo from the front row at New York Fashion Week. This amalgamation of objectively cool pictures next to seemingly normal ones is anything but accidental. We can't be bothered to post on the grid daily, these posts seem to say.

Like a relative's "Disney July 2011" album, the IG photo dump is just as vaguely branded. "Random !" Bella Hadid captions her roundup of fashion-y pics. SZA casually writes, "Photo dump. I鈥檓 around," alongside an image of herself in a metallic two-piece ensemble. A more honest representation of these posts would've been: "Photos I Looked Hot In But Couldn't Find An Occasion To Post."

The photo dump falls squarely opposite IG trends like the #pillowchallenge (shudder) and the two-day period when celebs edited tiny versions of other famous people with rhyming names onto their bodies. By giving off the energy that they don't spend the whole day scrolling or overthinking what they'll post, photo dumps have sneakily become the thing to participate in. For instance, has there ever been a bigger flex than Ariana Grande burying a full-frontal view of her engagement ring from Dalton Gomez in the fourth slide of a post? How about shielding a photo of Stormi Webster and Travis Scott in the fifth slot 脿 la Kylie Jenner?

I want to post with the confidence of Sophie Turner who says, "Felt like we needed some content on this page... enjoy these throwbacks" alongside a rare look at her pregnancy, selfie with a lemur, and and three Joe Jonas pics. Or Slave Play's Jeremy O. Harris, who has launched a daily "CORONAVIRUS 馃 MIXTAPE" series that regularly outdoes itself on the chaos spectrum.

Still, I know I am more Midwestern-aunt-after-a-tropical-vacay than Sophie or Saweetie when it comes to sharing pics. In 2020, I was lucky to wash my hair on a regular basis, let alone casually flex my hotness on slide six of a post captioned, "life things 馃槍." But just as the Cool Girls of Instagram ushered in an era of dumping photos, they taketh away via Rihanna, patron saint of chicness. However, as 2020 concludes and celebs rediscover gems didn't make their grids, expect an influx of random snapshots.

Apologies in advance to RiRi.

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