Kanye West Took Landscape Photo Used on Album Cover Himself With iPhone

Kanye West Took Landscape Photo Used on Album Cover Himself With iPhone

With his latest album “ye,” Kanye West took it upon himself to photograph the cover artwork while en route to its listening party in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

If you’re a fan of hip-hop, last night you might have tuned into the live stream of West’s album listening party hosted in the middle of a field among the mountains of Wyoming. It’s certainly one of the more unique venues to have had an event like this, and the beautiful location apparently inspired West to take up his iPhone camera and get his own landscape images. In fact, his wife Kim Kardashian West revealed on Twitter that it was one of Kanye’s own photos that was used for the album cover.

Kanye West's "ye" album cover.

While I’m sure Lee Morris would come down hard on West’s photo using the Fstoppers rating scale, I think it’s fascinating to see this shift in creativity for all people. Everyone is a photographer, and I know some professionals who don’t like that, however the accessibility into our craft pushes everyone forward. I like the fact West took appreciation for what was in front of him enough to shoot a photo, and enjoyed that image so much he made it part of his legacy.

Lead photo by Jason Persse and used under Creative Commons.

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…And with the easy availability of paint and canvas at Walmart, everyone is a painter.

…Wait, …hold on….

My wife went to an art class a couple months ago, and painted her first picture ever, (oil on canvas, a sunset with a tree and mountains), and it was great! …But it does not make her a painter/artist.

Ryan Mense's picture

"Everyone is a photographer" is just a common expression used today to describe quality cameras in everybody's pockets and the popularity of Instagram, I wasn't meaning it literally.

Yeah, but,…
① having availability to a computing device ×100+ more powerful than the system which took Apollo to the Moon, and knowing how to use it, does not make everyone a NASA engineer or rocket scientist, just someone with a cell phone. I have no problem saying, “everyone has a camera,” but not “everyone is a photographer.”
② the last paragraph says alot more than, “everyone has a camera,” because you brought up the «shift in creativity», (suggesting all these camera owners suddenly have creativity), that pros don't like that, (suggesting these amateurs are becoming equals to real photographers), and that the availability is pushing «everyone forward», suggesting they are all, at the very least, becoming photographers by the fact that they posses a ‘quality’ camera.

Additionally, ③ saying, «…just a common expression used today to describe quality cameras in everybody's pockets,…» suggests that possession of a “quality” camera makes one a photographer, and saying, «…and the popularity of Instagram,…» suggests that internet publishing lends credence to it. It all sounds literal, unless you were using the term, ‘photographer’ in a figurative sense to mean something other than a photographer,… but that did not come across at all, neither in the last paragraph, nor your response.

I think if you meant, “everyone has a a quality camera,” that is what ought to have been said, as everyone also has a computing device at least ×100 more powerful than the system which took man to the Moon. Yes, it is nice that West had enough appreciation of what was in front of him to take a picture, but snap-shooters have been doing that since the Kodak Brownie. That does not equate any of them to Ansel, who also used a Brownie, (at first).

Anonymous's picture

You're erroneously placing value on a neutral term. A "photographer" is someone who takes photographs. You're talking about whether or not someone is a "good photographer" or a "bad photographer" which is your opinion, but you don't get to decide what someone considers themselves to be.

So, anybody who picks up a hammer is a carpenter? Anyone who replaced ball cock is a plumber? Anyone who changed a fuse is an electrician? Anyone who combed someone else's hair is a hairdresser? Anyone who clipped someone else's nails is a cosmetologist? Anyone who looked for and found a fossil is a paleontologist? Anyone who professes knowledge is a professor?

I hardly think that the term, ‘photographer,’ simply means someone who once took a picture, except in the very neutral usage of, “Nice picture. Who is the photographer?” That is in the same vein as “Is that a new ball cock? Who is your plumber?” I am no more a plumber for changing my ball cock, as West (or anyone else with a camera) is a photographer for taking (and publishing) one picture.

One can possibly say that I am the plumber who changed my ball cock, but one cannot say, “with commodity parts available from Home Depot and Lowes, we are all plumbers.” That sentence can easily be fixed by ending it with, “…we can all fix our leaking toilet tanks.”

I had originally gone with ‘hammer and carpenter’ metaphor earlier but changed it to rocket scientist since we probably all have cellphones, but probably don't all have hammers. The point is, that calling someone a photographer is not generally saying that they once took a picture, nor that they take pictures regularly, but to say that they are good at taking pictures they have the skills to do so.

Yeah, maybe I do not get to decide what someone “considers” themselves to be, but Ⓐ neither do you, by saying, «everybody is a photographer,» and, Ⓑ generally speaking, (the arts aside), neither do they. I do not become a plumber by being able to follow directions to redo my bathroom, change my hot-water heater to tank-less, and abandon my septic tanks for sewer hookup. Yes, I did all that by myself, and a professional building inspector passed the work, but it does not make me a plumber, even if I call myself one.

I studied fluid dynamics and electricity in high school physics (and college), and can probably understand the national & regional building codes and therefore can become an electrician or a plumber if I wanted to, but just having a camera and taking pictures still does not make one a photographer anymore than all the work I did at my house made me a plumber.

Funny thing, when I looked up plumber, I get…
noun: a person who installs and repairs the pipes and fittings of water supply, sanitation, or heating systems.

…but when I look up photographer, I get…
noun: a person who takes photographs, especially as a job.

It would seem, that if we do not apply common logic, that we (generally) are more plumbers than we are photographers.

I am merely saying that call us all photographers because we all have cameras is a wild statement. It is not a matter of whether someone is good at it or not, but if they are defined by it. Most people I know are great at singing; that does not make them, ‘singers.’ They are not defined by it. My sister singing better than Whitney Houston does not make my sister a singer, anymore than someone taking better pictures than Henri Cartier-Bresson makes them a photographer. Henri was defined by photography; it was what he did. That guy with his iPhone who has been published in several news outlets is an auto-mechanic who just happens to live in a bad part of town where news-worthy things happen alot. He is not a photographer. He is defined by his automotive skills, and just happened to have taken a few news-worthy images, which rival the works of Henri.

I may know how to re-install bathroom fixtures, change a water heater, and connect to a sewer system, (and have done all that), but plumbing does not define me; I am not a plumber. Two things define me: I am a systems analyst, and I am a photographer. West is a singer. That dude on the street with his Android,… he is a retail cashier.

Anonymous's picture

Yeah I'm not reading this whole tangent. If you genuinely want to have a discussion on this, be more focused and succinct in your response. You're all over the map, man. Writing more words doesn't make you right.

I was elucidating to avoid questions. Here is the gist….

“I may know how to re-install bathroom fixtures, change a water heater, and connect to a sewer system, (and have done all that), but plumbing does not define me; I am not a plumber. Two things define me: I am a systems analyst, and I am a photographer. West is a singer. That dude on the street with his Android,… he is a retail cashier.”

P.s., I had to be all over since you kept moving the goal posts. I covered all bases.

Anonymous's picture

If I'm following: Your abilities and skills do not necessary define you; you get to define who you are. (You can do plumbing stuff...cool...but you don't consider yourself a plumber).

So if that retail cashier with an Android (I assume you mean a cameraphone and not an actual robot) feels that walking the streets and taking photos defines who she is to some extent, why can't she consider herself a photographer?

P.S. - don't blame me for you're inability to effectively communicate a thought the first go-around.

«If I'm following: Your abilities and skills….»

No, you are not following. The fact that you included, ‘skills,’ it that sentence, (of course, depending on how one defines skills), and that, «…you get to define who you are,» is not in a vacuum. If you read the elucidation, —which is why it was there— you may have gotten it.

That being said, YOU were the one who defined everyone with a camera as being a photographer, and NOT allowed them to define themselves…. But that is irrelevant.

What I am saying is that one is defined by what one does normally, not what one does outside of normal life. I ride my bicycle regularly, but that is not what I do for life. Someone else can say, ‘he is a cyclist,’ because I ride a bike, but it would be wrong to say that cycling defines me, because I am not a Louis Garneau; I do not cycle for life. If one wants to be a litle more clear, they may say, ‘he is a hobby cyclist,’ and that would be fine.

You, likewise, may have said, ‘Everyone is a hobby photographer,’ and you may still be wrong, because many people with camera phones may not be as eager to take pictures of everything in their life, and only snap the few snapshots or documentation, if at all. “This is where I parked your car,… Why did you leave the sink like this,… Here is the extent of the damage I caused,… What kind of plant is this,… Are these yours, or David's,…” and that does not make them photographers, which YOU claimed they are, which you said pushes everyone forward, which you then claimed was just a statement to mean they have a quality camera, which you then clarified as meaning everyone takes pictures, then claimed that I was discussing whether they were good or not, (which was never my argument), then said that I [we] do not get to be the ones who decide if they are photographers, then said, I need to be more focused and succinct.

This is not about what other people call themselves. This is not about whether people take pictures or not. This is about YOU calling EVERYONE a photographer, simply based on the fact —as it stands— that everyone has a camera, without regard to what they do with that camera, if anything at all, or what it is that defines them.


This has nothing to do with how they define themselves, but how YOU had classified them, and YOUR criterion for doing so.

The statement ought to have been, “Everyone has a quality camera, and I know some professionals who don’t like that, however the accessibility into our craft pushes everyone forward.”

P.s., yes, I used sarcasm —for humor, not as an insult or to belittle, sorry if I came off that way— to make that point, so I understand that for those who did not get the sarcasm, my point was lost. Nevertheless, I thought I was clear the very first go-round, hence the elucidation when you did not get it. I will try to avoid sarcasm in the future.

Anonymous's picture

You’ve proven two things:
1- brevity is the soul of wit. You so damned impressed with your “elucidation” that you don’t realize how full of it you are (and how little anyone cares). This is a discussion forum, try to learn how to have a discussion.
2-Your infatuation with proving that one person is a photographer and one is not speaks to your insecurities as a photographer and sorry attempts at elitism.

BTW you’re confusing what I said with what Ryan said. Work on your comprehension skills. Like the time you tried to argue with me on a video posted here without watching the video and realizing I was joking. All set to argue without knowing what you’re talking about: seems to be your MO.


Sorry, you are right. I did credit you with something Ryan said. I apologise.

I still stand by my suggestion that the statement ought to have read, “Everyone has a quality camera, and I know some professionals who don’t like that, however the accessibility into our craft pushes everyone forward.”


① «…brevity is the soul of wit. …This is a discussion forum, try to learn how to have a discussion.»

I am having a discussion. When I am brief, you have confusion. When I elucidate, you don't care to read and call it my problem. One cannot have a discussion if, instead of discussing the points, one discusses the literary choices, or belittles the man.

I though I was succinct in my sarcasm, but apparently, things get lost in sarcasm. Tried to elucidate, but apparently people don't like long posts.

② «Your infatuation with proving that one person is a photographer and one is not….»

This is about your refusal to see that calling everyone in possession of a quality camera a photographer, and failing to see why the distinction is important. I never tried to prove that anyone was not (or was) a photographer, simply that the apparent criterion was impractical at best, disingenuous at worst.

It is not about insecurities. What is a problem is a photographer belittling the profession in a photography forum by implying that everyone is a photographer because they have a camera, or whatever criteria produced that assertion by you. By you.

③ «… you’re confusing what I said with what Ryan said.»

You are right. I did confuse two things which was said by Ryan with something you said. I hope you can forgive me for missing that. Although it does change some of what I had said, the rest of it still stands; the statement was still erroneous in one respect which can be easily rectified, and that was all I wrote about.

④ «Like the time you tried to argue with me on a video posted here without watching the video and realizing I was joking.»

Yeah, I read the article and did not watch the video, and, when you brought that up, what did I do? I SHUT MY MOUTH ABOUT IT! I know when I am wrong. You were right. Thank you for bringing up the past to show how right you are [were].

I'll always remember how sarcastic your comment was and how miss-understood it was by me. Still does not affect this thread.

This time, I put the tl;dr statement at the top.

P.s., since this was originally to Ryan, who is no longer part of the conversation, and since you totally missed the point of my comment, I am out of here.

Anonymous's picture

I get where you're coming from, but I still think you're wrong. Thanks for the apologies.

Deleted Account's picture

After looking at www.toprockphotography.com I can confirm that having a quality camera doesn't make the bearer a capable photographer.

Thank you for that ad hominem attack. That having been said, how about some actual useful feedback? What did you like/not like, and why? Be specific.

Is it lighting, (and why)? Subject matter? Composition (and in what way)? Framing (and how so)? Is it even more of technical faults, or more creative choices? If technical, be specific, if creative, then elaborate.

I will accept all constructive criticism, but find trolls an absolute bore, and unforgivable. Show me that you are capable of critical thinking.

Deleted Account's picture

What ad hominem attack? Your work is pure bland uninspired garbage.

Edit: Just to be fair, I went back and looked very hard for a single redeeming feature in any of those images, but I couldn't find one.

Edit 2: But at least the fact that you are making money from it demonstrates that the word "professional" is not a synonym for "artistic excellence".

Since you cannot figure out what Ad Hominem attack, I'll help you out. Search the Internet for, “Logical Fallacy: Ad Hominem.”

Since, Instead of providing critical analysis, you chose instead to continue with your logical fallacies, I say good day to you, sir.

Deleted Account's picture

How is a statement that your work is crap a logical fallacy?

You really are as stupid as a box of dirt.

You don't realize that an ad hominem would necessitate that I be trying to discredit you; I'm not, I'm simply saying your work sucks.

It's funny how people who act like you in forums are inevitably terrible photographers.

I said, good day, sir!


Deleted Account's picture

And here I was thinking that being critical of others photography was OK. But then I was only going by your example.

I guess hypocrisy is cool with you.

I said, good day!

:-D :-) ;-) :-D

Deleted Account's picture

Poor little princess can dish it out all day, every day, but when it comes to taking it...

You know, I've been watching the comments for months, and you really are a prick.

I said good day!

;-) :-) :-D :-D

Hey Karim, I don't know you, but I can see that the guy is being a total as*hole with no reason, it really looks like he have something personal against you, I could be wrong though, some guys in the internet and specially in photography forums tend to be that way, but anyway, I've seen your website, if you want to talk about and have some productive criticism add me at instagram, @brunomatosphotos, feel free to dm me with your own opinion about my pics. Cheers

I figured. Even after I spelled-out what is meant by constructive criticism, and requested specifics, he still claimed that he gave constructive criticism. ;-) I always welcome constructive criticism, and yes, would take some from anyone, any day.

My website portfolio has not been updated in a while. I had posted one item from each category of my website, —current at time of his post— to FStoppers for community rating.

My eight categories include ‘Documentary’ which I did not see on FStoppers, so I have two pictures loaded under Nature. On my website, if I did not have at least three images in a category, I put it somewhere else. Hence, my two ‘documentary’ images from my “Nature at Work” series are in ether Flora or landscape.

I will be updating my website soon, so hopefully, some stronger images will be in there, and I will probably purge the documentary project.

Lee Morris's picture

I came here to write "good for him" but then I saw the picture... I don't want to be a hater but it looks much worse than a cellphone snapshot could/should. Was it taken through a car window? Here's a snapshot I took last month in Patagonia with my iPhone.

Alex Armitage's picture

A solid 2/5. It appears the photographer definitely put thought into the photo to push it above snapshot quality. However it really lacks the detail and editing I would expect for anything portfolio worthy.

Ryan Mense's picture

But would Nike buy it? I don't think so. 1 Star: Snapshot.

Deleted Account's picture

I'm a retoucher at a studio in Portland that works on a lot of Nike images, they have used much worse than this.

Deleted Account's picture

and oddly enough for this topic I was born and raised in Jackson.

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