Shapes, and ruminations on iphoneography

Another day, another post.  But tomorrow is a holiday!  May you all enjoy the 4th of July in your own way (for those of you who aren’t in the USA, you can disregard; for those of you in the UK, you can celebrate that we aren’t your problem any more).

So, here are more Hipstamatic iPhone shots for today’s post…I hope they don’t get too tedious, but the majority of what I have been shooting lately has been film, and as I have mentioned many times before, film takes longer to get up on the blog.  Also, I prefer to wait to look over my photographs; I sent out almost 20 rolls of film last week for processing, and some of those rolls are 1-2 months old, if not older.  I have forgotten many of the photographs that are on those rolls, which is good.  This allows me to forget about what I wanted those shots to be, or the emotions I had when taking them, and to analyze and evaluate them as photographs–both individually and as part of ongoing projects.  I have posted on this idea previously.

I have been thinking about what the iPhone, and iphoneography in particular, means to me lately.  Does the fact that I can take my phone out of my pocket and photograph anything cheapen the experience, either for me, for the audience, or even both?  It can make shots feel more “disposable”, for lack of a better word, but maybe that is the point.  Most things I take with my phone feel more like snapshots than any others I take; on the other end of the spectrum, my film shots feel more permanent (and it’s not just the physical medium versus the digital).  The more I think about things–the longer the act of making the photograph takes–the more cerebral the final image feels to me.  Shots with the Hasselblad, for example, feel more thought out precisely because they are more thought out.  It simply takes longer to shoot them.

However, it seems that the iPhone (or any mobile phone) has fundamentally shifted the way we think about photography.  The camera in most people’s phones is as good as some of the expensive compact cameras we used 4-5 years ago, if not sooner.  But they are infinitely more pocketable.  They are also things we no longer have to think about taking with us; our phones have become extensions of our persons, and increasingly have made watches, pocket calendars, planners, post-it notes, levels, stopwatches, timers, calculators, thermometers, and cameras obsolete.  Cameras are now something we always have with us, since we are inseparable from our phones.  This means that there are exponentially more pictures made each day than there were before mobile phones (and especially smart phones) exploded in the last 5 years since the introduction of the iPhone.

Does this mean there can’t be good photography with a mobile phone?  Not necessarily.  But it hasn’t just changed the way we take photographs, but how we look at photographs as well.  A good photographer can make a good image using anything, and a good photograph can be taken using any medium.  It’s the thought behind any image that makes it emotionally compelling and meaningful, and we must not lose sight of that in a world dominated by mobile phone-snapshots.  Just because the app on my phone makes it “look analog” (whatever that really means isn’t clear) doesn’t mean it’s an interesting image; the basic rules of photography still apply.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that faux-analog effects can cover up for a crappy picture…

…myself included.

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