I taught two classes in August on the Oregon Coast at the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology. It was a gorgeous location and I hope to teach there again in the future! My classes caught the attention of the local newspaper, the Lincoln City News Guard, and they interviewed me for an article. Unfortunately, the full article is available to subscribers only, so I’m posting the Q&A here for you all too.
What are the benefits of using an iPhone, iPad or iPod as one’s primary camera compared to classic photography?
The primary benefit is the accessibility and availability. You take your phone with you everywhere, and that means you have a camera everywhere too, which was not always the case in the past. Having a camera with you all of the time allows you to capture anything interesting you see throughout the day. This can lead to a deeper observation of the world around you, and a deeper experience of the moment you are in. It can change the way you perceive the world around you. For me, it changed the type of photographs I captured.
Another huge benefit is the processing power you have in the palm of your hand. Now you can not only capture the photograph, but process and share it with the world, all from the same device. The apps put the power of Photoshop into the hands of everyone in an inexpensive and user-friendly way. Capturing photographs is just the start of the process, and manipulating to create a new piece of art from it brings a whole range of new creative options.
What are some attributes that iproducts can’t beat when it comes to classical photography?
Mobile device cameras like the iPhone have a fixed, wide-angle lens, a smaller sensor, and no direct control of shutter speed and aperture. This means you don’t have the full range of functionality you would have with a dSLR – where you have interchangeable lenses and full control of the settings. For that reason, you can’t do all types of photography with an iPhone. For example, in wildlife photography, you need a long lens, in the range of 300-400mm, to capture the details from afar. You just can’t do that with an iPhone, even if you add aftermarket lenses.
While iPhone cameras certainly can’t do everything, they are incredibly capable devices which can do more than you might think. I don’t see the iPhone as replacing other types of cameras, more of adding to the range of what you can do with photography by making it so portable and available.
How long has the Sitka Center been offering workshops like this, which blend modern electronics with art?
This is my first year teaching at Sitka Center, so please check with them on the history.
I don’t think of it as “blending modern electronics with art” as much as using “modern technology tools to create art.” All art is created with tools, whether it’s a paintbrush on canvas or a digital tool. Modern technology adds a whole new range of tools into the mix, opening up more ways to create art. And that will only continue, as new technology is introduced and artists experiment with it. Isn’t that awesome?
As technology continues to improve in capturing visual art, will photographers begin to deviate from classical photography or will it remain a staple of art?
Photographers are already significantly deviating from classic photography using mobile devices. In addition to the portraits, still lifes and landscapes people might think of when they hear “photography,” there is a whole new range of photography-based art that is starting to reach the mainstream, including altered photography (what I call my work) and digital collage. I like to think of this as expanding the definition of photography rather than changing it. Classic photography will always have its place in art, and photographers who like to create that type of image will still be creating new work. The iPhone does not change that, only adds more photographic artists and different types of art into the mix.