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iPhoneography – Ruining or Redefining Photography?

Every photographer has probably had at least a momentary gripe about the ease of creating beautiful photographs on an iPhone. For the common person, making photographs used to be a special thing done on holidays, birthdays and family vacations. Film and developing were expensive, so the trend of photographing everyday life was left to the professionals. When digital photography came around, many professionals in the field griped about it ruining the art, but now most photographers have embraced digital and practically all can at least see the benefits of the digital medium. There are still numerous photographers who use film and will continue to use it because they prefer it to digital. Now the iPhone and other similar smart phones with high quality cameras have come along. Can this type of photography be integrated into professional use? I think it can. Instead of resisting new technology, we need to embrace it and figure out how it can best assist the professional and aspiring photographer.
There is no question that the iPhone can create interesting and beautiful images. There are professional photographers and artists that have already embraced the new artform and are intigrating it into their work. For example, you have Guardian photographer Dan Chung who photographed the 2012 Olympic games in London using only his iPhone 4S. The Guardian wanted to see what kinds of results a professional photographer could get using just an iPhone to photograph such an important event. The results were pretty remarkable.
Photo courtesy of Dan Chung’s Olympic Smartphone PhotoblogAnother professional photographer, Dean Holland, decided to leave his DSLR at home during his two week vacation to Vietnam and survive only on his iPhone 4S. He found that he started to hone certain skills that he had been neglecting by using his normal photography equipment. Holland says, “This made me realise two things: first, I saw how much I normally lean on my technical skills to make photographs rather than my (weaker) skills to see photos. Using the phone was like doing a visual “workout” by exercising my “seeing” muscle. But it was my second realisation that really changed things: the more I looked, the more I saw. It sounds obvious, but because I had the phone with me all the time, I started looking at things differently. Silhouettes of people, patterns in water, big things next to small things. Little visual treats everywhere.”
Photo courtesy of Dean HollandPhoto courtesy of Dean Holland
Photo courtesy of Dean Holland
Iphoneography is becoming so popular that professional conflict photographer Ben Lowy says that he shoots almost exclusively with an iPhone 4S. In the field he brings two iPhones, in case there is a problem with one of them, he has a backup. He says that it’s often difficult to be taken seriously by other photographers with their much bigger setups. Many assume he is an amateur or just a passerby wanting to snap a quick photo. But he was certainly taken seriously by Time Magazine, who liked his work so much that they published one of his iPhone photographs of Hurricane Sandy on the cover of the November 12, 2012 edition.
Photo courtesy of Ben Lowy
Travis Jensen, a journalist turned photographer turned iPhoneographer, uses his iPhone to shoot street photography. He recently published a book of photography called “Wish You Were Here” filled with beautiful images of the streets of San Francisco exclusively shot on his iPhone 4.
Photo courtesy of Travis Jensen
Even National Geographic, a publication known for it’s beautiful photographs, is beginning to embrace the art of iPhoneography. A recent article by Cotton Coulson, NG photographer, explains how to incorporate the iPhone into your photography equipment and shares her tips on how to make the best iPhone photos.
Photo courtesy of Cotton Coulson – Tip: Always have your iPhone with youPhoto courtesy of Cotton Coulson – Tip: Keep compositions simple
As a photographer you may still have your doubts about intigrating iPhoneography into your work. Many of the featured photographers in this article certainly had their doubts before giving it a try. One thing none of us can deny is that apart from giving professional photographers a new medium in which to shoot, iPhoneology is creating a whole new group of photography lovers. The word amateur is French, meaning “lover of…”. If by embracing iPhoneology we are creating more amateurs, more people who have a genuine interest in the art, more people who will create, go to photography shows and share their own work, then we should embrace it whole-heartedly.

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