Article By Emma Godden
With an estimated one trillion photos taken across the globe in 2015, photography has never been more popular. But has the advent of ‘phone photography – or phoneography – with its in-app processing capabilities and instantaneous routes to sharing every snap you ever snap served to compromise the art itself? I for one don’t think so.
Rather, phoneography and photography can in the main be described or separated as different things entirely. It’s like comparing a home-cooked version of your favourite meal to its microwaveable counterpart – the process just isn’t the same but you can appreciate both. The convenience of the latter is why you’ve probably chosen it but you’re aware that the quality of the dish wont compare. The quality metaphor employed here is not a symptom of photography snobbery either but to do with the actual make up of the photograph itself. Phoneographs wont usually be good enough quality to blow up or be all singing all dancing when in print and wont be the product of the sort of shoot that you’ve required a lot of kit for or had to employ huge amounts of planning or technical thought to execute – focal length, shutter speed etc. etc. Herein lies the difference, but surely that shouldn’t make it an inferior art form or a thorn in “photography proper’s” side?
In convenience terms the ability to capture a moment with a device that you’ve invariably got on your person wins out here. The smart phone is simply the snapshot camera of our generation – minus the wastage of developing photographs where you’ve chopped the head off of Granny or Granny’s not in the frame at all!
Yet there’s another reason why I think snobbery around phoneography is misplaced, although granted the sea of selfies we’re presented with daily are another matter entirely. Our smart phones have made photography more accessible but the ingredients for the perfect photograph with great visual appeal are usually the same however they are taken – good composition, an interesting/strong subject, capturing that sense of moment, the colours and light etc.
So whilst yes, there is a definite craft to photography proper and phoneography can be set aside as a different kettle of fish entirely – a photograph is still a photograph. However it may have been taken, the emotional response it triggers will differ with each person and from photo to photo, as is the case with any art form, it is very subjective. The taking of photographs has simply become more accessible, inclusive and democratic if you like. Not only that, we’ve entered an age where now more than ever, we can see things from all angles (pardon the pun) – not just through a database of press images or professional shots and that is pretty powerful stuff. With subtle devices we can snap like flies on the wall and capture events as they happen en masse like never before. Snapping has almost become the diary entries or letters of our time. My only gripe would be that people spend too much time seeing life through a camera phone and snapping every experience to remember to experience the experience and savour the moments that make for beautiful memories.
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