Why the image taker with a phone is to be feared more than the classic photographer.
The objective of this article is to highlight the fact that the person who carries a classic camera and equipment is not the only image taker. Indeed why the street photographer should be ratified and not vilified for being transparent.
Phone users or photographers?
Recently a fair came to my local town. With my backpack of equipment, Fuji cameras and monopod, I set off to get some street shots with colour and drama. I usually have camera in hand or on my mono pod ready for the shot. I am also a self proclaimed Fuji ambassador and proud to fly the banners.
Drifting around the crowds I enjoyed the ambience of colour mixed with squeals of delight. I looked for interesting people and moments of joy or interaction. I clicked away with what must have seemed like a huge banner over my head saying photographer. Well dressed and not afraid to be labelled as such. If anyone asked, I was only too willing to hand a business card, in the misguided hope that they may look at my work and employ me as their life documenter. Maybe they would give me enough money to escape the shackles of wage slavery and I would do what I enjoy forever more. But the point of the matter is that I am not afraid to promote the fact that I am a photographer who loves the genre of street photography.
As I clicked away amongst hundreds of people, I got the usual cursory glances as I tried to merge with the crowds. Whispers of camera, deceit, mistrust floated on the wind. Then a security person approached me and said he had had reports of someone with a camera! I gave a wry smile and looked around at the hundreds of people walking around with a phone in their hands. Which one is it I asked? Everyone in this day and age is capable of taking amazing images. Indeed it has been said many times, the best camera is the one that you have in your hand.
It was only myself advertising the fact that I am a photographer and indeed the only one asked what he is photographing. I politely gave my card and informed the security of my honourable intentions and was allowed to go about my business.
Everyday we receive brilliant images in progressive street taken on phones. With the quality it is very difficult to tell on a tablet, but the images are processed by a machine not an artist. A moment has been captured and essentially that is street photography, so that is fine. The operative has composed and got the shot. They are essentially photographers just the same as me.
So which should I use, phone or camera? I personally like people to get the shot, develop the image and produce the art.
I have seen many journalist pieces on so called photographers abusing the art of photography. Trying to take images up ladies skirts, down ladies tops and children enjoying water features semi naked. Shocking! But more often than not people with phones, and after all, that is what it is to the passing eye, a phone. Slimline, stealth, and instant access to social media. The chosen tool of the dodgy photographer who does not want to be identified as such. But then the photographer with all his equipment on show takes the wrap. Alert! person with a camera!
Of course it is true, not everyone with a phone has bad intentions. I myself take images of moments and selfies to post to friends and family. Even I am impressed at some of the images. Getting the image is still about composition and lighting. You can instantly post with no time at a computer. Then to top it off, it slips straight back into your pocket. Why would you bother with all that bulky stuff? To me it is like doing a painting by numbers, posting it on a classic painting forum and wanting painting of the month. Yes I am an artist of equal standing, Van Cock!
The fact of the matter is, that the phone is destroying the true photographer and artist, maybe even destroying careers. Definitely destroying the trust of the genuine photographer.
How many times do we hear now, we do not need a wedding photographer. Please just send all of your images, videos to my page and it will cost us sod all! After all, they are as good as the professionals any day of the week. Are they not? That is one career ended. The papers ask you to send your photojournalist pieces straight from your phone. Of course, we will make sure to give your name a mention. Oh, another career ended Mr journalist!
I recently was sat in a local social gathering point! Yes a pub, you got me. I was browsing some images when I was approached by a young gentleman who said his friend was dying and probably would not see the next Christmas. Could I take some stealth shots as he would not be one for posing for photographs? His friend shadowed him and pulled out his phone, he protested and said: “what are you asking him for?” “I can get just as good with my phone” Maybe he could, or maybe he could just destroy true art. I got the shots as requested and how satisfied the young gentleman was. All for free but with a sense of photographer ambassadorial conceited pleasure.
To me if you want to be a photographer be a photographer, no matter the genre you choose. Make the best camera with you a camera. Leave the phones to the selfie brigade and the family snap chatters. Let us change the culture of mistrust of the photographer together.
But if you decide to be a phone image taker, please see Davide Dalla Giustina tips and guide to getting the best out of your phone. Hey! Why not even use it to call someone and just say hi! They will thank you for it.