Fear of the unknown, fear of the iPhone
Since re-connecting to Flickr after the launch of their mobile app, I’ve been seeing a lot more big-camera images. The photos I see from my contacts on Flickr are both mobile and big-camera, with no distinction between them. Which is a great thing. Sometime soon, no-one will really bother whether an image is produced with a mobile camera.
On Flickr, I’ve reconnected to a lot of big-camera photographers from my past and I’ve realised a lot of them are also on Instagram. I spoke to one recently who had just discovered Instagram and he said it had reignited his passion for photography. I felt the same thing a couple of years ago when I found mobile photography. I looked at some of his photos on Instagram and I could feel the excitement. Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. Looking at the world with camera-eyes always turned on. But I’ve looked at the Instagram streams of other big-camera photographers and surprisingly many of them are posting almost post-ironic images: images of food, feet, pub scenes, etc. Uninteresting subjects, uncrafted, no filters. They don’t seem to be making any effort with their mobile photos. They seem almost overly amateurish. Why is this?
I’m no pyschologist. But that never stopped anyone airing their half-baked views about people’s motivations, thereby inadvertently revealing their own insecurities. So here goes. Could it possibly be that they are just completely baffled by the huge range of creative possibilities open to them with the iPhone? With a DSLR you set your shutter speed, aperture and ISO and that’s pretty much it. And unless you’ve been commissioned to produce a 10ft billboard, you don’t edit the photo because: 1) you can’t afford Photo Shop; 2) you don’t know how to work Photo Shop; 3) you forget about it when you get home. Or are they scared the iPhone camera will lay bare their real photographic skills? Without a £1,000 lens on their £3,000 DSLR body, the simple iPhone camera strips a photographer naked with only their raw talent to conceal their modesty. Or could it be that they are saying: this iphoneography mallarky is a bit of a laugh, but not the real thing?
I recently became a professional photographer with a big camera and I send lots of images to an agency for sale. And what’s my biggest sale to date? A photo taken with the iPhone bought by someone with no interest in how the image was produced. Some people are already not bothering to check what camera an image is taken with.
Do you know how to use Photo Shop?
Why didn’t I take out my iPhone camera?
As I blogged a few weeks ago, I’m helping out one of my favourite bands, Cornershop, with their Instagram account. And one of the projects we’re working on is to take photos of all the people who were featured on their excellent recent album Urban Turban. So far I’ve taken photos of three of the ten artists on the album and posted them up on the band’s Instagram account. And although the photos would be viewed by the band’s followers on their smart phones, and for all my bigging up of iPhone photography, in all three cases, I pulled out my big camera.
In the most recent photo shoot, of Rajwant, a Punjabi folk singer, who sang on a funktastic track called Beacon Radio 303 on the album, I took the train out of London to take the photos. I was very kindly met at the train station and we went back to Raj’s home for the shoot. So it was an event that we had planned carefully and both myself and Raj took the shoot quite seriously. And I’d also taken the previous two shoots for the band very seriously. And perhaps it was this seriousness that meant that I didn’t use my iPhone camera. Would my subjects perhaps have thought less of the shoot, and of me, if I’d used the iPhone?
In some other portrait shots (see a blog I did a while back) I think it helped to use the iPhone camera because it didn’t put too much pressure on my subjects. So it can work both ways. Or was it a deep-seated insecurity about using the iPhone camera? Or simply that I just wanted to get the absolute best quality shots? I’ll get back to you.
DSLR shot, iPhone edit