Mobile Photography and The New Features

 Mobile Photography and The New Features

Date : Thursday, May 3, 2018


History recurs. The rise of mobile phone photography today is similar to what happened in history a century ago. In 1900 Kodak produced low cost cameras. It made more and more people interested in photography allowing them to own cameras and take photographs with pleasure. The increased interest in cameras among common people at that time is similar to the growing interest in todays smartphone cameras among people of the world.  In modern world camera phones have become ubiquitous. No need for any instruction, no need for technical skills as well as convenience of using camera phones has made photography and virtual experiences more accessible. What makes this historic recurrence more interesting is that people nowadays tend to create features that were deemed to be obvious shortcomings of capturing photos in past. These features can be achieved through filters in popular photography applications on smartphones.

 Considering this fact a question arises: Does man want to remind his connection to past? Is man seeking to add meaning to the pointless life of today in which rapid growth of technological advances is beyond his perception? In fact human being of today is living with the fear of new technology and struggles with anxiety of how to make proper use of technological products and tools of his era. In other words, his constant concern with finding a proper culture of consumption hurts him more than merely being surrounded with hundreds of new products. Cameras on smartphones are rapidly advancing and being renewed, taking away the chance for users to experience them adequately. Being tempted to experience newer phones with obviously faster cameras, they put aside the former ones forever.

Mobile phone photography has different aspects. Disappearing or death of individuality and photographic identity is one of the main disadvantages of this new type of photography. Today all camera phone owners consider themselves photographers. It seems as if any one who can touch the shutter on screen becomes a photographer and at times this illusion of being a photographer can make him suffer. To imagine unthinking capturing of the world around us and a large number of pictures capturing ordinary relations in society and the passing of cars and people with no photographic meditation is greatly dreadful. Such photographs are  in fact a mere scan of the surrounding environment. Good mobile photographs which are taken accidentally evoke an overwhelming illusion of being a photographer largely due to smartphone image processing and sensors reaction to change of light in places with extreme contrast of light. Lack of visor in camera phones takes away the photographers control over his choices and results in a constant connection between him and the events outside the frame. Above all, huge mass of photographs and the followers habit of liking has affected the criteria for assessment in mobile photography.

But that is not the whole story. Mobile photography have other positive aspects too: compared to DSLRs, smartphones are less intrusive and widely accepted in social settings. Fear, anxiety and confusion are the natural reaction of people being captured on intimidating DSLRs. Hence taking pictures with smartphone cameras would make subjects less uncomfortable or awkward. This issue is of great importance in countries such as Iran where social documentary photography is still immensely difficult to handle. Since characters and human subjects have often camera phones themselves, psychologically they accept this type of photography as a means of capturing everyday life and therefore feel less threatened when being photographed. Another point worth considering is that mobile phone photography is no longer confined to simply selfies and memento pictures. Rather, it has gained the role of an observer whose fast pace and quality of presence in social networks is prominent and incomparable. It is just as the result of such quality that camera phone owners are able  to send the latest news photos more quickly than news agencies. In this way it turns into a means of expression for photographers who try to reflect their inner ideals. In addition, a camera phone becomes a tool in the hands of a photographer for categorizing his sociological ideas. Simplicity and modesty in capturing a scene by this new tool is quite similar to the way Kaufman brothers worked in the beginning of last century. So many photographs nowadays are created on smartphones which are more impressive and sound more significant than their peers captured by professional cameras. It seems as though phone camera can penetrate deep into the lives of people and no one is able to resist it. The other point to mention is that mobile phone photographs appear to be immune from being forgotten and archived. As soon as they are taken they are mostly posted and seen on virtual pages.

Despite all stated points what remains significant is to avoid oversimplification. Although phone camera is humble and undemanding it is, after all, a camera like other ones. The only difference is that it is embedded in a handy phone. Just because it is in mobile phone we are not supposed to fill it with irrelevant and trivial daily materials. Furthermore, just because photos acquire piles of likes virtually, we should not lose our ability to measure good photographs. Human being is a lonely creature who is conscious of times passage, and hence grieves loss of time more than any other creature on earth. Photography is a play with the concept of death, deferring doomed fate of moments which are going to pass one by one without being noticed or admired. Photography embraces all those things that are dying; the things that we are constantly eliminating or changing during our lifetime. Regarding such quality, we had better think twice and not get ourselves involved in the increasing process of producing photographs, whether with cell phone or professional camera.

Among all things, the rise of Instagram as a platform for displaying photographs is worth considering. Some points concerning its emergence and pervasiveness are as follows:

A- Culture and Manners of Consumption

Photography has become ubiquitous. Presence of photographs everywhere has challenged meaning of this medium for the audience. Photography is not as sacred as before. We are living in an age where large piles of photographs are being distributed at incredible speed; an age which can be called the age of photograph inflation. In my view, Instagram managers benefited from portability and availability of mobile phones in creating the space for photographers, noticeably reducing the chance to compete for other virtual rivals such as Facebook. The gross change in attitude has some consequences like underestimating art of photography in virtual world. Fast pace of distribution makes the photographer less concerned with his works and impels him to upload any photo to the melting pot of Instagram merely because of having appropriate features for this virtual world.

 In non-private and non- familial photos on Instagram, oversimplification in capturing the scene is largely apparent. Well come across the large number of posted photos whose purpose of being produced is not clear. In fact there is no significant direction or purpose in capturing them. They are pictures of a road, traffic, a room, sky, trees, etc. which show photographers main wish for not being behind of Instagram community. 

B- Smartphone Camera is a Camera After All.

As mentioned before, in every smartphone there is a camera similar to the other digital cameras of the world. They work the same as analogue or other inexpensive cameras.  Owners must follow some instructions to use them. They require the owners knowledge and understanding of what lies in front of them. Just because they are always available and embedded in our phones, we should not fill them up blindly with nonsense things.

C- Front Camera on Mobile Phone

Direct display of self in selfie pictures got more and more widespread since monopod became an indispensable part of mobile phone facilities. Although this type of photographing dates back to Robert Cornelius self- portrait in 1839 the first one who labeled a photograph selfie in virtual world was an Australian single youth who created it at home in 2002. Back from a wedding party at midnight he decided to take a picture of his solitude. Soon after he posted it on internet, labeling it selfie, it became commonly used by all lonely people who felt a need for social support. By this type of photography they sought to gain peoples attention. Tendency towards taking various selfies during a day represents narcissism latent in mans nature that is ready to be projected in different ways.

Over 310 million Instagram members have used this label so far. It seems selfie picture has become an idol in virtual world so that many governments throughout the world passed laws to control behavior of photographers who do strange things when taking selfies.

D- Instagram and Words below Photographs

Instagram takes a procedure in photo-sharing which has been a custom in virtual publishing of photographs. A text can be accompanied by a published photo in order to add some information about the picture or reveal its photographers personal feelings. The accompanying writings such as caption, cutline or sentimental descriptions all add to the photo things beyond what is made obvious by the photo itself. Photographs are dump and lack stories. They do display captured moments and express the things which are in connection with items present in the picture and the way they are. 

Therefore words below photographs can help make a story, create dramatic elements in the photograph and explain to the viewer why the photo was captured.

Caption is entirely distinct from statement, though many people consider them the same in Iran. Consequently it is not surprising that cation (whose task is not the same as statement and cannot fulfil  expectations of such photographers) is deemed something unnecessary and useless.

Photo words can only motivate the viewer to go back to the picture, explain the information the picture cannot or emphasize what is obvious in the photo in order to distinguish some social or human qualities. On the whole, a caption supplies general information about scene such as regional, ecological or cultural ones but a cutline goes one step further and describes the incidents. | Kiarang Alaei



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