Is mobile still newsworthy?
In what has got to be one of the best bits of media coverage of mobile photography, the New York Times today did a piece on an exhibition of mobile photography in Paris. At the time I spotted the article, there were 4 comments online. I braced myself for the usual vitriolic outburst by the traditional photographer who after 35 years of mastering aperture and shutter speed would rather chop off their hand than take a photo with an iphone. And, yes, the first comment was from a photographer of 35 years standing, Leslie Plaza Johnson. But surprisingly there was no vitriol. Her point was that it doesn’t matter what you use. What’s important is whether the image gets an emotion from its viewer.
We’ve seen a lot of media coverage of iphoneography over the last couple of years. When I launched a course in mobile photography back in February, London’s two most widely circulated newspapers carried big articles on it. A course on mobile photography, yes, isn’t that amazing! Whenever exhibitions of mobile photography (like the one in Paris) are announced, the typical media angle is: yes, can you believe it, these beautiful pictures, all taken with your little mobile phone camera.
The nature of the genre is what it is: mobile is incredibly good at close-up photography and has allowed many more people to be creative with their image-making thanks to all the apps. For those reasons, it is a sub-genre in itself, with particular features that mean that blogs like this one have something meaningful to talk about. In the same way that water colours is a sub-genre of painting. But at the end of the day, it is just another way of making images. And one day soon an exhibition by mobile phone artists will be no more newsworthy than an exhibition of water colour enthusiasts. The only thing that will make it newsworthy will be if the images get an emotion. Which in the case of this excellent exhibition, they do.
Does it get an emotion?