The Guardian publishes a rather dull and whinny write-up from Kate Bevan on iPhone photography apps. While Bevan claims that she’s a knowledgeable amateur photographer, her photos show her knowledge of composition and creativity are nowhere near the knowledgeable level. Not to mention her opinion proves to me that her understanding in post-processing is quite shallow. Why would the Guardian publish such shameful article?
Bevan states that apps like Instagram, Hipstamatic and Snapseed warp the stories of the photographs. She also thinks that these apps are nothing but the antithesis of creativity, as well as a retrograde step. Bevan’s ending paragraph contradicts her opinion when she writes “…post-production enhances those stories”.
We all know that the use of these filter apps are not the same as the use of Photoshop to alter a photograph. We can’t make a person look skinny in any of these apps. We can’t add more missiles to a war photograph in Instagram. These apps are more like film stocks—a medium. When we load our cameras with Agfapan APX 25, all our photos will get the same black and white effect or the color reversal effect if we load our cameras with Fujifilm Astia 100F. Since the beginning of photography, there is no regulation against the use of different brands or type of films. We use Instagram, Hipstamatic, the same way we use films to enhance the moods and stories of our photographs.
In contrast to Bevan’s opinion, Benjamin Lowy uses Instagram and Hipstamatic apps to capture tons of eligible reportage-images when he’s on an assignment in Libya. The images which Lowy bakes with these apps are such wonderful that The New York Times features him in an article on their visual journalism blog. To Lowy, there’s no difference between these apps and a camera with particular properties. Sport Illustrated also publishes images from Brad Mangin, a freelance sport photographer, who uses Instagram to report the baseball spring training.
If we dig deep into the internet, we will find many intelligent discussions on the topic as well as great photos from world-wide photojournalists and iPhoneographers. Below are a few links that relate to the iPhone and the photography apps,
- Finding the Right Tool to Tell a War Story
- Hipstamatic and the Time When Photographs Looked Like Paintings
- Guttenfelder’s iPhone Photos
- The War in Hipstamatic
- Photography trends: Hipstamatic
After reading the conversation between Christa and Rhiannon on Photography trends: Hipstamatic, I realize that it’s not the apps that ignite the debates but the people who have difficulty in adapting to new technology.
To me, the iPhone and these apps are the photographic Swiss Army Knife, a good tool for photojournalists when the situation doesn’t allow a real camera to do its job. These apps indeed cause a ripple in the field of visual journalism, but I don’t think it will cause any harm to the ethics of photojournalism. We also don’t have any concrete proof that these apps are either the antithesis of creativity or a retrograde step.
What are your thoughts?