The reinvention of photography after iPhone

On 2017 iPhone is celebrating its 10th anniversary, time in which Apple Inc. has created 18 mobile phones, including the new ones on the list: iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. 10 years have passed since Steve Jobs gave a remarkable speech to launch the first iPhone.“Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone (…) iPhone is like having your life in your pocket. It is the ultimate digital device”, said Jobs to an audience of 45.572 people gathered at the Macworld Conference in San Francisco, on December 9, 2017.

The first-generation iPhone was finally released on June 29, 2007, for only $499 (4GB) and $599 (8GB) with a carrier contract and, by August 2017, iPhone has sold 1.2 billion units and has 3 brand new models on its way, that will be available on November 3, 2017.

Phoneography, which means the act of creating photos with a camera-phone, has gained popularity through time, and has also produced new ways of seeing and photographing, hence developing a new aesthetic that has changed with the improvement of phone models and the advent of applications that have provided users with better ways to process and share their work.

Nowadays, in a world dominated by smartphones, professional photographers have even started to switch cameras for phones, not only reinventing photography but also their approach to their subjects, in a wide spectrum that embraces many genres, from photojournalism to advertising.

  • Image shot in Libya by ©Benjamin Lowy. Reportage by Getty Images

Taking smartphone photography to the next level

While covering the Iraq war in 2003 Ben Lowy started using his iPhone with the Hipstamatic app. He was among the first photojournalists to use the digital device for shooting in conflict zones, having been awarded numerous prizes for his work.

Back in 2011 Damon Winter, a war correspondent for the New York Times, won third place for feature picture story at the Pictures of the Year International award, with photographs of the war in Afghanistan taken with an iPhone and using the Hipstamatic app, creating a debate over the use of apps in journalism.

American photographer Stephen Alvarez, who works for National Geographic, was assigned to photograph the Seven Natural Wonders of the World using only Microsoft smartphones.

David Guttenfelder, another National Geographic Photographer who focuses on geopolitical conflict, conservation and culture, was named inaugural Instagram Photographer of the Year by TIME magazine and received the Online Journalism Award. His Instagram account, @dguttenfelder, has 1,481 million followers.

Bruce Weber and David Bailey, both famous for their fashion photography, were given two Nokia smartphones in 2013 to shoot a day in the streets of Harlem.

Austin Mann, who says that he “loves to explore, invent, and tirelessly test all things tech”, has tested different types of iPhones through his travels, detailing the results in his Web site.

In the world of sports Brad Mangin is an iPhone-only photographer who covers golf events for the PGA TOUR and baseball games for the Major Leagues.
More recently Luisa Dörr, a young Brazilian photographer, was hired by Time Magazine to shoot 46 influential women with an iPhone for 12 covers of the magazine in a series entitled First. “For Firsts, the pictures are made with natural light, using only a reflector when necessary,” Dörr tells TIME in the interview. “I like the simplicity of how these pictures are made. But the best part is that as a photographer, you feel extremely light and free. It is almost as if I can make pictures with my hand. There’s no noise, gadgets, tools or plugs—just the subject and myself.”

iPhoneography at MIP with Jorge Parra

Jorge Parra has been giving workshops of smart photography for bloggers, writers, Web and graphic designers as well as social media campaign managers

Jorge Parra is a Venezuelan photographer based in Miami who has developed

With the intent of better understanding the revolution of iPhoneography, MIP invited Jorge Parra, a Venezuelan fashion photographer based in Miami, to share his knowledge of years of experience in editorial and advertising photography with students.

-Why did you consider taking photos with a phone instead of using the camera?

There is an already classic statement that applies perfectly well here: “The best camera is the one you have with you”.

-Is it true that anyone can take photos with a phone?

Anyone can take photos, not everyone can take good photos! The bottom-line is, the photo is not taken by the camera, but by the user! The better you learn to use and control your camera, the better your results will be. There are a great deal of tips and tricks that will help the users enhance the quality of the results, some of them are technical in nature, others are aesthetical, and others are just practical. With some good training, anyone can take good photos with a phone or with a camera.

-Why iPhoneography and not Adroidnography or Samsunography?

These days, Samsung cameras are equally nice and efficient, but the iPhone started the trend. Then the other brands followed, but were in second place. The marketing for Apple products is also truly efficient and Apple already had a long list of followers of their previous products. That made it easier for them to capture the largest segment of the market.

Jorge Parra has been giving workshops of smart photography for bloggers, writers, Web and graphic designers as well as social media campaign managers

-Do you recommend editing tools/apps when using the phone?

That depends on how much do you want to get involved in the editing/changing/improving of the images. Some images need very little editing, others may require more, especially if you really love the shot and cannot re-shoot. Even though the basic tools that are provided by the camera app are good but limited, you may end up with fantastic shots. Adding extra levels of editing can create magic. Please note that I am not talking about filters. Many apps offer filters to make modifications, mostly on the colors of the images. Some may work here and there, but most of the time they are just eye candy. I am talking about making changes in exposure, contrast, color balance, black and white points, selective cropping, compositing several images into one, etc.

-Are you an iPhone user? Would you consider switching to another phone?

-Yes, I have been an Apple / Mac user since 1993 and it was natural for me to get an iPhone.That said, the possibility of switching is an option, as competition and technology are always there. For example, RED, the company that makes some of the most fascinating High End video cameras used by cinematographers worldwide, recently announced their Red Hydrogen SmartPhone, which has about the best video camera that you can get in that size, and they are introducing what they call “Holographic Display”. This smartphone camera will open many opportunities for photography and high quality professional cinematography in the palm of your hands, with a modular system to add powerful hardware on demand, and that might be an option to consider.

-Your students, can they use any brand in your workshops?

-Yes, of course! They will learn the same basic photographic principles and how to take better photos, plus the details of the use of their own phones, no matter the brand and no matter the model. Even an old smartphone will work!

-Can you mention or recommend sites, names or publications fundamental for starters?

It is better to send people to sites that motivate and challenge them to work hard. Some of the best places are VSCO and Ultravisual. Both function as communities, so it is very stimulating to join and participate in the activities, challenges and competitions by themes that they offer.

-Any tips that you would share with people starting with Phoneography?

Of course!! Attend my Level 1 workshop and get the training for an entire new level of quality for your personal images! Level II of the workshop is for those who want to get deep into creating and editing using multiple apps.

Jorge Parra: I am starting up my FishEye Series, shot with the great iProLens for iPhone, by Schneider