A Smartphone and Instagram: Is The Art of Photography Compromised?

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Right smack dab in the middle of CNN‘s homepage this afternoon was an opinion article by Richard Koci Hernandez, Emmy award-winning multimedia photographer, on mobile photography’s potential effect on the Art of Photography (link to CNN provided).  Since CNN thought to put this topic front and center, I thought it warranted a few more words than my normal posts.

As I’m also a lover of music and dancing – many a DJ are in my local circle of friends and acquaintances- it reminds me of the ongoing debate on the average Joe (or Jane) buying the latest iPhone software to make their iPads and iPhones into full DJ mixing decks to showcase their self-taught music selection and track mixing skills and considering themselves DJ’s.  You ask your average DJ of today about these iPhone DJ’s and you’ll likely start an argument on who’s “real” and who’s fake.  Which is ironic because many DJ’s that are 100% loyal to one of the earliest recorded music mediums – vinyl – and only conduct vinyl only sets consider themselves the “real” ones and those that spin music sets using CD’s, the now traditional format for conducting DJ sessions, as compromising the true art of DJ’ing.

I believe that smartphones and Instagram have their place in our times.  It offers to the everyday person what photography artists value so much about the skills they’ve gained or natural gift they were born with – the ability to capture and enjoy solitary moments and see the world with their own personal meaning.  It also allows the ability to share our view through social media with many known and unknown that may not see them otherwise.  To those in tune with the things that cause you to be swept away into the moment of a photograph, you will always recognize true, purposeful artistry in a photographer’s work compared to what may be distributed by the masses via smartphone cameras, Instagram, and other photo-sharing sites and tools.

At the end of the day, when it comes to music and dancing, as long as the music gets me moving on the dance floor, that’s really all I care about – the medium isn’t the most important thing to me.  And let me not be misunderstood – I take my music and dancing VERY seriously.  I will always be able to judge whether the one on the decks playing music that moves my feet (or not so much) treats DJ’ing as the artform that it is or not, no matter if they are using vinyl, CD’s, mp3’s, iPhones or other methods.  I’m certain that this also applies for me with photography as well.  I appreciate viewing photographed moments that others feel are special to them – I’d never want to take that away from anyone ever.  But the art of photography can, and in some instances, should be different from this.  With this, the method used isn’t as important – whether film, point-and-shoot, SLR, or smartphone.

The soul, passion, and gift of a true artist can never be hidden.  Nor can it simply be duplicated by just any other person with the same set of tools.  As long as there are people that know and appreciate this, I think the Art of Photography will be just fine for years and years to come.

Let me know what you think!

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