I confess that nowadays, the Iphone has become de facto of a wieldy DSLR despite my occasional dissatisfaction with the output quality of my old Iphone. My recent spat of short trips both in and out of China – Hunan and Hubei provinces, London, Paris, Milan – required light packing and a DSLR was too much of a burden if I wanted to retain the sanity of no luggage check-in. However, now that the Ricoh GR V is out, my wallet may soon be (en)lightened in an exchange for a less conspicuous presence in the street.
Don’t get me wrong, a DSLR and tripod set up is still optimal for shooting old houses but each trip is ultimately an expedition. I miss terribly the process of carefully framing details and angles, and returning repeatedly to get it right. The sense of accomplishment is more purposeful and different.
Putting aside issues of photographer’s rights that has ignited debate since Instagram was acquired by Facebook, I love that photo apps have further democratized photography, forcing higher standards of creativity given its easy accessibility. We now have war photography shot in Hipstagram, such as NYT photographer Damon Winter who had his Hipstagram photo on the front page of the broadsheet, awards and exhibitions dedicated to mobile photography, fashion influenced Instagram and of course, the street photography genre has only been boosted in itse popularity by the smartphone.
I recall the morning I discovered Instagram, I had offered to shoot a friend’s wedding as a backup. I ditched my DSLR by the afternoon what with runnnig around in high heels and ended up shooting all 12 hours on my phone. I processed and delivered the best photos in real time, to the joy of the couple. Society today is such that we prize speed first, quality is a close second.
The highlight of my week has to be reading about this fantastic Instagram project of @echosight, a joint-Instagram account between photographers Danny Ghitis in New York and Daniella Zalcman in London.
“The entire process takes place on a phone: Images are uploaded to a Google Drive folder, each pulls photos from the other and creates the final piece in an app called Image Blender. Each photo is uploaded to the Instagram account with a quote, something that Ghitis initiated in order to communicate the feeling being conveyed. “Photos are very abstract and words can be very literal so I didn’t want to go too far in one direction,” he said.”
This goes to show you the boundless potential of photography and art with none of the trappings of cost and burden of equipment. With no exuses, it is the photographer’s eye that has to prevail.
Above: A signboard/scaffold of an aspirational Chinese skyline, shielding a sadly torn down lane near Shanghai Xintiandi by Xinye Lu