In an article (page 10 March 2012) written for my Auckland based friend, Tim Steele, in his f11 Magazine, I spoke of my anxious concern as to whether a smart phone could take photos/be a camera. As a late adopter of smart phone technology (an early adopter of belt mounted pagers in the late 1970s, but that possibly doesn’t count); I came to the concept of mobile phones as cameras rather late in life. Up until late 2011 the telephone had been a “ring ring – hello” type of device for me. At that time I was preparing for a trip to Japan and was keen to share images with friends both at home and on my travels. Whether my Japanese friends had good English skills (my Japanese is just short of non-existent) they all had good visual literacy skills. Therefore photography was a legitimate form of communication.
Despite using professional equipment (Nikon D800 and a much loved Panasonic Lumix GF1), I found that the note taking capacity of my i-Phone was seductively easy; as was the instant capacity to communicate with friends on the run with Instagram. There has been contemporary debate about Instagram since its sale to Facebook, but whilst I have taken some cherished images and placed into this software, it is a visual communication device that differs from my “real” cameras.
Moving from travel documentary, I found that the ready availability of have a device in my pocket led to images being taken that would not normally be exposed. I am not a reportage type of Cartier-Bresson photographer, but found that I was seeing and taking more of these style of images. My i-Phone had become a notebook that was as indispensable as my Moleskine.
Just as good darkroom technique is important in analogue photography, post-production with i-Phone (or Android) images is critical. My preferred software is Snapseed, with a camera setting called 6×6 permanently set at black and white as my monochrome image maker; reminiscent of Hasselblad days.