Taking photos with a mobile phone
Most people who own a mobile phone with camera taking capabilities use it and why not. See my photo below as case in point.
This picture was taken on the 5th July 2012 of a chai stall owner along the banks of the Buriganga River in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Whilst in Bangladesh on a day off between assignments I made my way down to the Buriganga port in Old Dhaka to document the hustle and bustle of the fruit and vegetable market. I had visited the port already on the same trip as well as earlier in the year on previous assignments however I was lured back to the area for its combustion of movement, colour, smells and confusion.
Taking a moment to change film I sat down at a chai stall, ordered tea and chatted with the men sitting around me. Looking up to check on my tea I found the chai stall owner holding up his phone taking my picture, delighted at being photographed in response I raised my camera and did the same. We compared photos and the chai wallah then insisted on having another one taken, this time featuring us both sharing the bamboo bench reserved for his customers.
While I am almost totally sure that the photograph of myself and the chai wallah sitting together didn’t make it to instagram, I like to believe such a day isn’t too far away. I believe that the digital world at present is still missing its fair share of majority world representation and the prospect of further ownership of the digital sphere by communities in the developing world is an exciting prospect.
As I have become increasingly busy in 2012 I have found little justification to use my phone as a camera until the last few weeks of moving home and studio. In conversations with friends who show me their photos on instagram they inevitably ask me why I am not on instagram, I usually respond with a flakey answer about not taking it seriously. I have watched much of the industry in the last year take to the popular dedicated photo sharing platform but still I have avoided it. Why, well, I am not entirely sure.
My avoidance has nothing to do with copyright concerns, although admittedly I am not sure what is Instagrams policy on this, but more my worry is of being bound by another social media vice that provides very few tangible outcomes.
If the truth be known I am rather impressed by Instragrams story, launched in October 2010 it was so popular that Facebook paid $1 billion to acquire it before its second birthday. In just over two years this photo-sharing program is a social media staple for many digital aficionados. Perhaps my fear with all of this and I imagine its shared with most photographers in the digital world is the hallucination of being made completely redundant by phone photography. While I think being made completely redundant is a bit of a stretch, it is without a doubt the possibility for much of what we do.
When Hurricane Sandy made its way to the east coast of the United States Time Magazine hired five outstanding photojournalists to document its impact and aftermath using instagram http://lightbox.time.com/2012/10/30/in-the-eye-of-the-storm-capturing-sandys-wrath/#1 . The photographs featured on Time’s lightbox are visually compelling, which coupled with the fact they were uploaded in real time is further proof that there is real currency in phone photography when it comes to the news cycle.
In an article on Wired.com Pete Brook interviewed Stephen Mayes the director of VII photo agency who said
The way we relate to imagery is changing,” says Mayes, who thinks the pace of change is astonishing. Fortune magazine reported in September 2012 that “10% of all photos ever taken were shot in 2011.”
While the most poignant of answers from Mayes was
I think cellphone photography marks the transforming moment.
The transition from analog to digital photography was a pivot point, but it is a pivot that wasn’t fully recognized in that working with these large DSLR cameras we’ve been able to mimic [analog] photography as we know it.
The cellphone is a pretty pure implementation of the digital phenomenon.
To read the entire article it is available here http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2012/11/stephen-mayes-vii-photography/
In conclusion of completing this article I am going to jump on the bandwagon, I am going to download instagram to my phone and join the 100 million users who use instagram and maybe I will even find a few followers along the way.
While the United States awaited the arrival of superstorm Sandy, the then Hurricane moved through the Caribbean with force. Haiti was just one of the island nations that bore the brunt of Sandy, 52 people died as a result of the hurricane and even then it was considered to have been mild.
A larger edit of this work will be online soon at www.conorashleigh.com
Below is a picture inside the heart of Port-au-Prince during the heavy rains brought on by Hurricane Sandy.