Photo Essay

iPhone photography

It's odd to me how some people think making images with an iPhone is somehow "cheating" or "too easy" or "not real photography". All photographs are manipulated. A camera is a camera, a machine that fixes the effects of light on a medium. A post-processing "app" is a darkroom. Just not so smelly. So while I have some admiration for purists and curmudgeons and luddites for their staunch stubbornness and pinhole vision, I will embrace any invention that makes life more fun and allows me to do what I want to do and doesn't spoil the planet. Maybe iPhones + apps put creative possibilities in too many grubby hands; maybe camera gadgetry and darkroom alchemy sent us down a sinful and impure path from the beginning; and maybe any art that isn't scratched into a cave wall with a rock is too damned easy. But I don't think so.

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22 responses

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (12 Jul 2011):

    I could not agree with you more and I voted for you!

  • Matt Goldsmith

    Matt Goldsmith said (12 Jul 2011):

    It's no more cheating than post processing in Photoshop is

  • catharine amato

    catharine amato gave props (12 Jul 2011):

    as we've always said, It's not the camera but the artist that creates the image.Great shots Aaron!(I'm a bit jealous as I haven't got an iPhone -yet!

  • Kris Hartley

    Kris Hartley said (12 Jul 2011):

    I agree. You have to possess the raw talent and the photographic eye, save for "lucky shots" every now and again, and no post-processing app will hide it if you don't! A good photo is a good photo, regardless of the medium.

  • james birkbeck

    james birkbeck (Deleted) said (12 Jul 2011):

    They need to make cameras that you can load apps onto... it would be cool to have some for my Rebel (I don't own a cell phone, much less an iPhone). Hee hee.

  • Nicole Goeringer

    Nicole Goeringer said (12 Jul 2011):

    For me it is not about the darkroom adjustments made in a program like Photoshop, but more about adding clouds where there were none, removing telephone wires from a shot. You can't do that in a traditional darkroom environment. If that is your thing than I feel the work belongs in a graphical art setting and not in a "photography" setting. I give props to those who take photos with any kind of camera, set it up, adjust the framing, exposure, etc and do darkroom adjustments and cropping and then submit their photo. I love the work of those who play with the photo in artistic ways, I just don't think it is a true photograph unless it depicts what was seen through the viewfinder at the time of the capture. But simply my humble opinion and I know many disagree.

  • Jenni C

    Jenni C said (12 Jul 2011):

    AMEN!!! As an iPhoneographer I've won more awards than with my film cameras. It is an emerging art in the photography medium. Just because it's mass market an easy to obtain doesn't make it any less legit. Thank you for this essay!

  • Rob Linsalata

    Rob Linsalata gave props (13 Jul 2011):

    A very well-stated response to this current debate. After all, is it not still the photographer who must make the creative choices of which camera, which filter, or even which app will produce the most desired artistic effect?

  • Jon Matthies

    Jon Matthies gave props (13 Jul 2011):

    Agreed. It's not the equipment, it's the artist's vision and intention.

  • judy fouse

    judy fouse said (30 Aug 2011):

    Some of the best phone photos I've seen. Makes me want to do more.

  • Susan B. Griffith

    Susan B. Griffith   said (31 Aug 2011):

    A coworker of mine is a master at capturing beautiful photos with his iPhone. When he first showed me his images, I asked him what kind of camera he used. He pulled out his phone and showed me a group of images he had taken over the weekend. I was amazed. He says they continue to improve the technologies. He even had an over-sized copy of an images printed, and it was nice and sharp and hadn't fallen apart in the enlargement process. I agree with others above. No matter what the camera, it's the final image that counts.

  • Marco Martinez

    Marco Martinez gave props (3 Sep 2011):

    I agree with you on all points, Aaron. Creativity has many forms and requires many different outlets. The moment you let someone tell this how things ought to be done, you're done. I say, follow your instinct, and be true to yourself and the way you express your experience. Blind are those who refuse to see your world because of the particular way you choose to present it. By the way, great photographs. I can see how you are interacting with the medium. Excellent work.

  • elena fava emerson

    elena fava emerson said (23 Sep 2011):

    you have a great way of "seeing".!!! good job!!!

  • Debbie Smartt

    Debbie Smartt gave props (28 Sep 2011):

    I agree so much with you. At first, I stayed away from it. Now I am trying to embrace it.

  • The Man Who Isn't There

    The Man Who Isn't There (Deleted) gave props (12 Nov 2011):

    A very good collection. I like the essay, even if I am not truly convinced by your argumentation.

  • ! Mario Scattoloni ¡

    ! Mario Scattoloni ¡ said (29 Jan 2012):

    Those words are my sentiments entirely when it comes to creativity their are no boundaries. Besides after spending an entire lifetime literally in the dark I can actually say that I feel more liberated by the newer techno-cameras. I truly feel as if I have finallly found my light in this digital era. After all it is not the tools that makes the artist but the artist that creates their vision with what is available. So yes, I too am another i-phoney photographer & am loving everything it implies to be one.

  • Kristina Krause

    Kristina Krause   gave props (6 Mar 2012):

    Well said! I agree.

  • Susan B. Griffith

    Susan B. Griffith   said (3 Oct 2012):

    I'm back to look again. I can't believe you get these great images with your phone. Pure talent.

  • Randy Turoff

    Randy Turoff said (1 Aug 2013):

    Images, no matter how they were produced, are just there to be appreciated or ignored. It's like music. You like some of it and so you listen. You dislike some of it and so you turn it off and find something more to your liking. It doesn't matter how expensive or gimmicky the equipment or technology. What matters is the aesthetic result.

  • Deborah Downes

    Deborah Downes gave props (31 Jan 2014):

    Couldn't agree more. Beautifully said and shown. Sure gets my vote.

  • Eric Ianuzi

    Eric Ianuzi (Deleted) gave props (26 Mar 2014):

    nice story and images, I enjoy my camera and my phone apps

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper said (27 Mar 2014):

    I have NO idea how I missed this story. So right up my alley all things considered. Your story is well written. Your points are valid. Your images, the delicious icing. Scored a vote from this chickie.

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