Adventures in iPhoneography – A Series: Flirtations, An Intro

I’m going to be teaming up with “misadventure” travel writer Kirsten Koza next July to co-host a workshop in Kirgizstan for travel writers and photographers. Due to one of her hilarious misadventures, Kirsten (an accomplished travel photographer in her own right) came to find herself in need of a new camera. When our recent kitchen-table conversation wandered perilously near the brink of that mud-pit that photographers are apt fall into, gear talk, I was reluctant to go there and exclaimed that ‘even if people travelled only with their iPhones, we could have an incredible adventure and they could make great photographs…’ the insinuation being that Kirsten—who’d been texting moments before—was already holding her next camera in her hand. After all, it is not so much about the tool as the yey and how one uses what tool one has at hand to tell the story, and the content itself… or so it is said.

To my suggestion, lets say Kirsten’s guffaw was tad dismissive. Nevertheless it got me thinking more about my own ancient 4-year-old iPhone 3Gs with its dinky 3.2 Mega-Pixel pinhole sized sensor. Frankly I’ve ignored it, and surrounded as I usually am by an arsenal of pro-gear, I’d come to regard mine as a piece of crap really. Generating highly compressed jpgs 2047 x 1536 pixels, it wasn’t totally useless of course, just mostly useless for anything other than acting as a visual note taking device.

Or was it?

A few days later I began to explore what I could do with just that device. It would be a challenge: could I make it into a useful tool?


Starting out on her own in the evening.

Looking Ahead
One of the first times when I consciously made a iPhoneograph rather than a quick visual note… just a straight shot, nothing done to it but cropped square, just like my old Kodak Instamatic, and my Hasselblad


After some more unsuccessful mucking about, the first thing I went looking for on the interweb were the experiences of other pros. I found many corporate reviewers and amateur photography bloggers, but very little from the keyboards of my peers. (Not to say they’re not there but I haven’t found them.) Most of what I found was gear talk, for in afterglow of the dawning of this new image medium a whole new industry of apps and gizmos has spring up to augment the humble iPhone camera and its competitors.

This got me thinking about this rambling old blog of mine. I am a photographer; it is time again to write about photography… at least a little more often. So in a coming series of blog posts I’ll be sharing trials, tribulations and triumphs from summary gleanings to technical minutia.

Along the way we’ll look at the role of camera-phones in the lives of professional photographers, revisit the Instagram debate (perhaps you didn’t even know there was one… hopefully I can advance it a little), view a bunch of neat examples of others that I’ve begun discovering, maybe play with a bunch of apps, take a quick look at the history, culture, ethics and industry of iPhoneography (or its generic term “Mobile Photography”), try to build an efficient workflow and see where all this leads. After all, I’m still not very far along this journey.

I will try to keep my posts brief  and pithy (hopefully this will be by-far my longest one) to leave people time to indulge in their own adventures, should they choose to undertake them. I’m anxious to get on with it myself and will not experiment with many of the possibilities if they do not seem likely to be useful. I don’t expect this to be a long series. It will not be a review of the 5, 10, 30, 100 best apps for the iPhone. It will however be iPhone-centric as that is the device I already own. I’ll try to curate the essentials both of what I’ve discovered and what I’ve experienced.

Feedback from abject argument to affirmation is most welcome. Perhaps you’ll give me better questions to ask, quandaries to mull, or mysteries to investigate.

Next post: “Finding the Love”Whoa Peter…Don’t jump to conclusions… first things first… Next post: The Ground Rules

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