Notes on iPhone Photography

I think Richard Blakeley just discovered the photography section of the iTunes app store, because his Tumblr has become a gallery of processed iPhone photography. Hipstamatic and AutoStitch are both represented, sometimes in tandem. Blakeley is one of the more talented people I know. He’s won the Internet several times over, he’s one hell of an event producer, and he’s fearless when it comes to trying out new forms of expression. But “amazing photographer?” I’m not letting him have this title, I don’t care how good his iPhone shots are. Because the iPhone allows all of us to be amazing photographers now. And something needs to happen about that.

This feeling has been eating away at me for some time now because I feel like a cheat when I shoot something amazing with my phone. Take my last two shots, which I’m very proud of. They cause me a lot of self loathing. Look at how amazing my photo of the Urban Lights sculpture at LACMA is. It’s a total lie. I understand framing, I understand the rule of thirds. I don’t understand how to work with light, especially not dusk, which was when this photo was taken. My Photoshop skills are rudimentary. Yet I created an Amazing Photograph because my phone has Lo-Mob on it. Fuck you, me.

My ex-girlfriend and one of my best friends are Hipstamatic addicts. Hipstamaddicts. I refused to download Hipstamatic because I didn’t want to gaffle their style. I have my own style. I adjust some levels in Photogene, crop the image, run it through one of a handful of CameraBag or Lo-Mob filters, then use TiltShiftGen not to make a tilt-shift image but because a little bit of blur goes a long way, and because TiltShiftGen has a killer vignetting tool. But this is a farce. It’s like saying I’m a cook because I mix and match TV dinners. It’s retarded to think I have a photographic style in iPhone photography. I hope the ghost of Walker Evans punches me in the face.

Now, Nikola Tamindzic is an amazing iPhone photographer. He’s a Fauxlaroid man. But he’s also an amazing photographer when it comes to actual photographs. He’s good with light and lenses. He had a style before he got an iPhone. Fauxlaroid was just really conducive to it. But if I took a hundred thousand random photos I’d end up with one that’s on par with Nikola’s. Because the iPhone is that good at faking talent. Look at my Urban Lights photo again. It’s fucking fantastic.

So I fully hope for a backlash. When photography came around in the 19th century, painters went nuts because photographs were too damn realistic. That’s not the point of art! they said. We’re all gonna be Impressionists now, so take that, fakers! Of course, we came to accept photography as an art form and it got distinguished because not everyone could do it well and doing it well took years and years of practice. Well, that’s out the window. So, real photographers, what’s your equivalent of Impressionism? How are you going to put me in my place? What are you going to do about this?

You’re probably going to do nothing about this. You’re too busy playing with Hipstamatic.

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  1. reyner reblogged this from spiegelman and added:
    posted two days before Instagram dropped
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  11. markgantt reblogged this from spiegelman and added:
    I loved this post. As a photographer (one of many things I do as a profession) I remember the first time I used...
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