I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time, composing and recomposing in my head, trying to figure out exactly what it is I want to say. There are so many different opinions, different thoughts, different ideas of what is “right” that it can be hard to figure out just what it is that YOU believe (metaphorical you; I’m not sitting here chastising you for being waffle-y at all.). I’ve done a lot of reading, a lot of research, and a lot of hard-core thinking about this over the last several weeks. What I say probably won’t be popular with a lot of you, and I’ve come to terms with that. But I believe in what I believe in.
Mobile photography just may change the way we see the world.
Mobile photography just may change the way we see the world.
What? You thought I was tackling gun control, didn’t you? Please… I’m not THAT sadistic.
If you work where I work, though, and if you hang out with some of the folks I hang out with, you know that this is a pretty surprising, possibly even inflammatory statement to make. After years of preaching the value sensor size, the value of glass, the value of understanding exposure and the background of photography, I’m just throwing it all out in the trash? What’s next, instagram weddings?
They go where the team goes...
This wasn’t an instant thing for me. I love the feel of my Nikon in my hands, the steady weight of it, the balance between lens and body, the way my body adjusts as I raise the camera to my eye to compose an image. There’s just something about the entire process of taking a picture with a nice, sturdy, DSLR or the like that feels… good. It feels right. And the feeling of dumping the images into Lightroom, seeing what you’ve done, what’s good and what’s crap? Reminiscent of watching anxiously over the vat of developer to see, out of the darkness, what emerged. I love the work process, I love the feel of it, I love the art that is photography.
But damned if I don’t love the ease and immediacy of my phone.
Parking lot carnival, Belton MO
I tried not to, I really, really did. But in the two years since I gave myself up to the smartphone, I’ve come to realize that for many of us- especially parents- the best camera? It’s the one that’s actually with you. I don’t take my Nikon to the bus stop (usually). I don’t take it to the elementary school lunch room. I don’t carry it through the house or to the grocery store or have it on and ready during family game night, even if Pinterest tells me I should. But I ALWAYS have my phone (don’t we all?). So it seems that those priceless little moments that take us by surprise, those moments we just want to wrap in a box and store carefully inside our hearts forever and ever…. Well, we kinda can.
But it’s not real photography, someone from the peanut gallery sneers. It’s crap! It’s a fad!
|"Stolen flower in an air vent"|
As breathtaking as my piece "Stolen flower in an air vent" might be, I don’t think anyone would necessarily call it art. There are people out there, though, capturing some amazing things with the tap of a thumb, especially in the realm of photojournalism. Take, for instance, photojournalist Ben Lowy’s Hipstamatic image of Hurricane Sandy… that made the cover of Time magazine. Or Lowy’s award-winning photo series iLybia- a look into the Arab Spring of 2012 as few were able to capture. It seems that everyone, even in the far flung corners of this crazy world, is so used to the spectre of the bumbling phone enthusiast, juggling apps and contacts, maneuvering through life with one eye down, that no one notices, no one cares when the eyes come up, the phone raises… and in an instant a moment is captured. What is the reaction to that same person when they raise a DSLR, adjust the lens, take the stance, and fire away? You don’t NOT notice that. People are keenly aware of the camera. But a phone? Seemingly invisible. And so photojournalists find new ways to bring us images from across the globe that tear at your guts in a way others have not, a personalization of an existence that we can’t even fathom.
But I don’t intend on going to Syria anytime soon, so how does this apply to me? Simple- getting candid, inspired images inside a war zone is, I’d guess, just as difficult as getting candid, inspired images of my thirteen year old. And the moments are just as fleeting.
Photography tells the world "This is who we are. This is our life." You can argue that, in today's overly digitized, over-sharing culture, that no one really NEEDS to know who you are, or, indeed, WHY you are. I'd argue that the culture of "oversharing" is one of the tenets of photography. It's a need to share with the world YOUR vision. It's a desire to share with the world what is important to YOU. Mobile photography and the era of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr have just taken it out of the gallery and into the palm of your hand. Maybe, just maybe, we can begin to take the first steps towards tolerance and global understanding.
|"Vampire Bunny Attack"|
Tournament Lunch Break
(of course, I'd settle for a culture of tolerance and understanding in my living room.)
Does this mean that I’m going to give up my Nikon, pack away my lenses, and give myself completely over? Not quite, and neither should you. If you ever find the need to capture something more than ten feet away, I don’t suggest giving up traditional photography methods anytime soon. Same goes if you know you’d actually like prints. Our kids may be totally happy with the idea of ePictures on senior day, but as of right now, I prefer my portraits frameable, thankyouverymuch. Easier doesn’t always mean better… just as fancier doesn’t always mean right. It’s a balance.
As a photographer, I appreciate the fluid evolution of digital photography. I love the fact that mobile photography takes some of the elitism out of the art- the concept that, in order to capture great things, you must have the best possible equipment. As a parent, I love nothing more than flipping through my phone’s gallery and seeing all of those magic little moments, neatly packaged up for my heart- and assorted combinations of cloud and solid storage methods- to hold onto forever.
|"The View From Coronado"|
Coronado Beach Sunset, San Diego