[Editorial] The Hottest Point of Photographer Contention: iPhones
In reading comments and listening to other photographers, there are nearly no other subjects in the photography universe that bring up more contention than the subject of iPhonography. It’s the most polarizing topic in our field. There are photographers that are steadfastly against the “Instagramers” or the “fauxtagraphers” who post their moody and brooding black and white overly contrasted shots of sunlight through trees to Facebook and get the adoring love of all their friends. Then there are those who realize that you need to crawl through miles of crap before you get to the fresh water on the other side (think Shawshank Redemption).
Sure, there is going to be garbage out there, but won’t there always be? The fact that iPhones allow us all to instantly post process and upload every image we snap just bombards us with the images we normally wouldn’t waste the effort to import to our home computers. With a situation like that, we are obviously going to get hit with a wave of sub par results. But there are good photographers who use the iPhone and accept it for what it is. There are even those who sought to prove that the camera doesn’t make the photographer, it’s the other way around (yes, I’m again referring to Lee Morris).
“The most amazing iPhone yet.” A lot of this claim hangs on camera in the iPhone 4s.
So before we go on, can we agree to some things?
1) iPhonography (or cell phone photography) isn’t going anywhere, no matter how much we may or may not like it. It’s popular, it keeps growing, and people love it. So deal with it.
2) Apps like Instagram are naturally going to be popular. You don’t have to use it, but a vast number of consumers will.
3) Professional photographers have nothing to fear from iPhonographers. You can’t show up to a pro shoot with an iPhone. Period.
“I waited in line for three weeks to be the first to get the 4S, but it looks just like the iPhone 4. How will people know I’m better than them?”
With those three points covered, why are there STILL so many haters? Being the contest operator, I get to see the furious comments of those who, for example, don’t think we should be having a point and shoot camera contest. I have to sift through the piles of comments in the Facebook Group where users spout their hatred for anything related to iPhonography.
For a moment take the stance that all these outspoken photographers are indeed professional photographers. That means that they must make a certain portion of their income (I like to say 50%) by being a photographer. So if they are professional photographers, why are they so angry at the hobbyists? Are they afraid? I don’t think they should be, or are.No, I don’t think this is the case at all.
“I’m so hip! My iPhone makes me look sooo cute! I tell all my friends I’m basically a pro. Want to see my tubmlr? I even have a blog.”
Let’s look at this another way. Let’s say all these angry folks aren’t pros, but they own pro gear. They spent the six to ten grand on the cameras, lenses, tripods, lighting, training seminars and how-to DVDs as well as various other piles photographic gear, but they can only truthfully call themselves amateurs. They have done some shooting and in all reality are probably quite good. But in their minds, they took the dive. They bought the gear. They have walked their 1000 miles. They feel entitled to something because they share in the struggle of many a professional photographer. Then suddenly they see some photos, most of them total crap but a few of them really darn good, that came out of an iPhone. Maybe even some of these photos rival or are better than their own.
They are hit with a wave of confusion and anger.
How is this possible? What gives these iPhonographers the right? They did not walk their 1000 miles. They did not invest in the gear, the training, the DVDs! They do not deserve to take photos like this! iPhonographers suck! They should all meet a fiery death in the pit of a volcano! Anger anger anger rant rant explative rant!
I sympathize with these guys, I really do. It doesn’t seem fair that photographs of exceptional quality are being generated by high school dropouts with the artistic training of an epileptic aphid.
But the fact of the matter is, if you fire a shotgun into a forest, a few pieces of shrapnel are bound to hit a couple trees.
Now that we have addressed this somewhat justified but unnecessary anger against the iPhone, maybe we should look at what we as photographers can really do with this thing and how serious we should take the iPhone as a part of the camera industry. Let’s face it, the iPhone is the single most popular camera on the planet right now. That counts for something.
The new Schneider iPro System was unveiled last week at iWorld/MacWorld in California.
Last week Schneider Lenses (you may have heard of them) unveiled what is the first attempt by a major lens manufacturer to enter the iPhone market: the iPro series. Just read how they describe their own hardware:
“The idea behind the iPro is not to offer you another camera, but enhance the one you already have. Your iPhone… Suddenly your iPhone’s even cooler than you thought it was.”
Schneider backs this up by showing the system right next to its heralded professional series of lenses. They are attempting to draw the line of trust between their well known and successful lenses and this new consumer brand.
Schneider has done two major things to the photographic industry with the release of this product and that statement of it’s purpose:
1) We, Schneider lenses, admit that the iPhone is a viable camera option.
2) We, Schneider lenses, admit that the iPhone is such a huge success as a camera that we should stake our name and reputation on a product to enhance this new aforementioned viable camera option.
The way this camera is described- with words like “pro” and “professional-grade”- is likely a major reason why iPhone haters hate. The idea of using your iPhone to make professional images is sickening to them. And you know what? I totally agree. This is not a professional camera, so why in the heck should you try and turn it into one? Sure, a pro can use it to make great images. There is no denying that. We as Fstoppers have all seen it. However, buying this equipment for your iPhone does not make you a professional. I believe this statement gets to the core of what fuels the iPhone hate.
Marketing. Just keep reminding yourself that it is marketing. Is it really professional grade? No, it isn’t. The kit costs under $100. Of COURSE it isn’t professional grade. Will it make the photos you take on the iPhone better? Probably. Will you see a gaggle of ditsy teenage girls giggling over their overly Instagramed results from using the iPro system? Most definitely. Will it have any effect on the real professional market as a whole?
No. It won’t. Again, you can’t show up to a professional shoot wielding an iPhone- even if you come equipped with a tiny fisheye lens.
What we as photographers need to reconcile is that iPhonography is a real thing. It’s popular, it’s growing, and it will not go away. The real nail in that coffin is seeing a very respected brand put a concerted, driven effort at this market. The first of the major brands to do this, it is a mistake to believe they will be the last.
So what do you think? Will you begin to take iPhonography seriously, or at least see the iPhone as a serious camera? If Schneider believes it to be a serious subject, should you? Or is Schneider on the edge and is this their last ditch effort to remain current and stage a comeback? Sound off in the comments section below.
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