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'Photographers, embrace Instagram'

October 19, 2012 - Ben Klein
Everyone's a photographer now and depending on your viewpoint, it's either the worst thing in the world or it's not.

If you're tired of seeing pictures on Facebook or Instagram of random every day things, such as dinner, filtered through an app anybody can buy, then yes I understand your frustration.

It's boring, lame and just isn't a good picture.

I don't see this as the death of photography, rather almost identical to the technological advances that allow musicians to produce their own music at home or in the garage on the cheap.

While you definitely won't get the same results on your phone as you would with professional camera equipment, I've found photography with the iPhone to be a new, often unobtrusive way to capture images of the people around me and the places I visit.

Whether I'm covering a story or snapping pictures at a wedding, everytime I raise a digital camera people change, adjust and often stop immediately what they were doing.

The moments has been altered and the picture is gone.

I've been using an iPhone since last December and it took me more than a few months to learn how to use the camera, buy new apps to enhance my photographs and shoot on the fly with accuracy.

The first time I used the phone for a story was about May. It wasn't by choice, my digital camera battery was dead and I needed to grab a picture for the story. So I used my phone and an app I'd be learning to use.

I'd used my phone for work before, but only for taking pictures of documents that I'd of otherwise had to photocopy or take down by hand.

The photo ran and that was that.

No big deal.

Now, an argument that has brewing in mobile photography for quite some time has come to a head.

Should journalists and photojournalists use smartphones to take photos that have filters applied to the image after using an application?

Is this against the rules?

Richard Koci Hernandez, a national Emmy award-winning multimedia producer with more than 15 years in photojournalism and is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, who currently teaches at the University of California's Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism says it's the golden age of photography.

"Photo apps won't magically give Jane the smartphone photographer a better sense of composition, or lighting, or framing. The apps and filters only change a photo's look and aesthetic feel. That doesn't make it a better photo. If you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig," he said in a recent story on CNN called "Photographers, embrace Instagram".

"Smartphones have ushered in a golden age for photography. But disappointingly, much of the conversation has been focused on the device and the use of faux nostalgic filters rather than on how photographers can choose from a wide range of possibilities to be creative," he said.

Does it bother you that this image was captured by conflict photographer Ben Lowy in Libya this past summer using an iPhone and the Hisptamatic app?

"If I wanted to take a portrait of you, I can make the choice of what black-and-white film I want to use. I can use Tri-X, I can use Fujipan. They're going to look different, and both of them are not very accurate representations because you're not black and white. But I can take that picture, and go into the darkroom and say, "I'm going to put a 3 filter on it," or "I'm going to dodge and burn," or maybe I'll do a sandwich negative to control contrast a little more, print it on multicolor paper, use a 3 here, use a 5 here. And that's not how I shot it. I shot it on black-and-white, and black-and-white still does not exist in reality," Lowy told the New York Time's Lens Blog in May.


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Blog Photos

I took this picture of Luna the Puggle in midair using an iPhone and the Camera+ app and was edited using the applications Snapseed and TouchRetouch.