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The Rise of iPhoneography

Most of us now have a mobile phone with a decent camera. A growing number of photographers use them for creating more than mere reminders of a boozy night in Shoreditch. Lindy van den Boomen goes searching for creative advice in the world of mobile photography...

Mobile phone photography is experiencing something of a revolution. Over 3,000 photography apps can be downloaded online and it’s also possible for the keen mobile photographer – or ‘­iPhoneographer’ - to pimp up their phone with external lenses and mini tripods.

What’s more, mobile photographers are gaining serious recognition for their work. Damon Winter was this year’s winner of the Newspaper Photographer of the Year Award. His images of the war in Afghanistan, shot on a phone using the hipstamatic app, were printed on the front page of the New York Times.

Daniel Cutmore is festival manager at the Look 11 International Photography Festival in Liverpool. Among the work exhibited in this year’s first edition is an interactive project by Liverpool artist Pete Carr, a mobile photography project by Christian Caselli and a live social media project by city residents themselves.

“Our festival is a very democratic festival,” Daniel explains. “The aim is to promote that anyone can be a photographer, taking pictures on any device. When we select pictures, we don’t look at whether the picture was taken on a camera, or on a mobile phone. I think it is interesting to explore and present photography in an innovative way and, as a festival, we are always looking for a wide range.”

Professional photographers Rachel and Phil Hibberd have offered a selection of courses throughout the country with their company Photography Made Simple, including the first mobile photography course in the UK.

“Our mobile photography course was aimed at young people in specific, who are on their phone all day,” Rachel says. “We would like to change the attitude in which they think ‘let’s just snap this, I can delete it later’ to ‘let’s bother’.

“I always say: ‘Don’t be a snapper, be a photographer, think like a photographer.’

“You don’t need all the expensive gear, because in the end you can’t buy the knowledge of when to press the shutter. The quality of mobile images are so good these days and we often hear of people who say they’ve never taken such a good photograph and how they’re surprised to have taken it on their mobile phone.

“I think composition is king. Think about what you’re trying to say. Is there anything in the picture that could distract the viewers? Be very clear about what you want to show and draw the viewer in.”

Street photographer Greg Schmigel lives in New York and has dismissed his bulky camera to shoot on iPhone only, because, as he says “the best camera is the one you always have with you.”

“I personally sell prints of my work as works of art," Greg says. "Other mobile photography colleagues of mine have profited from their work in iPhoneography via fashion photo shoots, photojo­ur­nalism, book cover photography, product photography, wedding photography and much, much more. What you must remember as well is that we are still in the infancy of mobile photography. What will take place over the next 3-5 years with the use of a camera phone as a means of shooting is unpredictable.”

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