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Archive 2013 · How the Cell Phone Killed Real Photography...
  
 
Weasel_Loader
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p.2 #1 · How the Cell Phone Killed Real Photography...


The most important thing is getting people out and taking photos while having fun. The problem I see with cell phone photography is that the photographs are enjoyed for a day or two and then vanishes. Talking about the majority of people taking photos with their phones, I'm betting most delete the photos once it's uploaded to facebook or when their phone is full. How will they share those photos 40 years down the road? Who knows where those photos will be after Facebook shuts down.

Luckily my wife and I both have family photo collections going back a few generations and I find it sad when I meet people that literally have no photos of their childhood. I believe it will only get worse as newer parents take cell phone only photos of their children growing up and out on vacation.

I've only recently got back into film just for family photos. I still love my D700, but it's mostly used now for non family stuff and sports where film would be to difficult or too expensive. My F5 has picked up duty during family vacations and parties.



Apr 18, 2013 at 04:51 AM
cgardner
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p.2 #2 · How the Cell Phone Killed Real Photography...


Instant gratification? Photography as unique work of art. Turn back the clock 40 years and you are describing the Polaroid marketing strategy

40 years ago when working for Monte Zucker I ran a "Daguerreochrome" portrait studio during the holidays from a counter in the Garfinkels department store. It was franchise operation he bought from Phil Charis consisting of a Gowandflex TLR studio camera with a Polariod color film back and a four light pack /head studio lighting system. The end product was a 3-1/2 x 5 Polariod, embossed with a canvas finish in a cheap $2 Burns of Boston frame sold for $45. The sales counter was next to the women's clothing section with 30 x 40 portait behind it to attract attention. The marketing "hook" was that customer could borrow any outfit from the store for the photo and get a free make-up touch-up at the cosmetic counter. It was entirely an impulse buy and much to my amazement I sold and shot about 100 of them over a 3 week period. God help anyone who put it near a window

The point of that story is that instant gratification isn't a new thing, it's a basic human emotion which explains why we are all using digital cameras not film. The clever people like Zucker, who was closer to B.T. Barnum than anyone I've worked for or known, understand what motivates people to buy photography (vanity) and exploit it.

Most of the traditional market niches in photography that existed in photography such as senior portrait, weddings, commercial advertising, are still viable but the end products the clients want has changed and the availability of automatic camera and lighting gear and editing software have made it easier to produce a salable product. The Internet has created new ways to sell it. I'd venture to guess there are more "fine art" prints sold via photo sharing sites in a week than in all the galleries in a year.

Cell phone photography was the final nail in the coffin of Kodak, film and consumer photo labs but they had been on a steady decline since the introduction of digital in the early 2000s. Consumer print labs like Costco and Walmart which still exist survive by offering convenient ordering (I've done our Holiday Cards on-line for several year) and services like VCR conversion and ink jet printer refills.

Cell phone photography only really took off when Facebook and YouTube provided venues for sharing. I started sharing photos in 1994 when I got an Apple Quicktake 100 and defacto webmaster status at a ISP in Manila. When I shot and posted some photos of Christmas decorations and posted the link on the soc.culture.filipino usenet group LINK it went "viral" and was accessed by every net-savvy Filipino in the world at the time, many who worked in IT or were at universities. The quality of the .8 MP photos were as poor, but they tugged on the emotions of lots of homesick Filipinos.

Often the message and how it is delivered is more important than the technical merits of how it was captured. I was reminded of that this morning watching a cell phone video taken in portrait mode out a car window of a fertilizer plant in Texas exploding. That's as "real" as photography gets.



Apr 18, 2013 at 06:44 PM
BrianO
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p.2 #3 · How the Cell Phone Killed Real Photography...


Eyeball wrote:
I guess you are too young to remember Brownies, Instamatics, Picture Discs, and Polaroids.


DanBrown wrote:
I guess you are too young to remember daguerreotype, collodion, and Autochrome Lumière.


BluesWest wrote:
You completely missed Eyeball's point. The cameras he listed were the quickie consumer photo technologies of that era, the rough equivalent of today's camera phone.


Although Dan may have been kidding, his point is a good one and didn't miss the point at all; at one time, daguerreotypes, the collodion process, etc. were the equivalent of today's camera phone and yesterday's Polaroids. Photographers were looked down upon by many artists whose medium was paint on canvas. Photography wasn't considered "art," and was thought fit only for those without talent and those who were seeking "instant gratification."



Apr 19, 2013 at 05:17 AM
Eyeball
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p.2 #4 · How the Cell Phone Killed Real Photography...


For those wanting a little perspective on this topic, I recommend perusing some of the photography books and articles in the Internet Archive ( www.archive.org ).

One I found was "Sunlight and Shadow: A book for photographers amateur and professional" by W. I. Lincoln Adams, published 1897.

I found the chapter titled "The Hand Camera" (page 69) particularly interesting. Here are some excerpts:

Quote from Alfred Stieglitz: "Photography as a fad is well nigh on its last legs, thanks principally to the bicycle craze. Those seriously interested in its advancement do not look upon this state of affairs as a misfortune, but as a disguised blessing, inasmuch as photography had been classed as a sport by nearly all of those who deserted its ranks and fled to the present idol, the bicycle."

- - -

It was undoubtedly, due to the hand camera that photography became so generally popular a few years ago. (Remember that this is being written in 1897) Every Tom, Dick and Harry could, without trouble, learn how to get something or other on a sensitive plate, and this is what the public wanted - no work and lots of fun.

- - -

The climax was reached when an enterprising firm flooded the market with a very ingenious hand camera and the announcement, "You press the button, and we do the rest." This was the beginning of the "photographing-by-the-yard" era, and the ranks of enthusiastic button pressers were enlarged to enormous dimensions. The hand camera ruled supreme.

- - -

He (the author) frankly confesses that for many years he belonged to that class which opposed its (the hand camera's) use for picture making.

- - -

I remember how, upon having developed the negative of the picture (using the hand camera), I showed it to some of my colleagues. They smiled and advised me to "throw away such rot." "Why, it isn't even sharp, and he wants to use it for an enlargement!"

- - -

Most of my successful work of late has been produced by this method (using the hand camera). My experience has taught me that the prints from the direct negatives have but little value as such. The hand camera has come to stay - its importance is acknowledged. A word to the wise is sufficient.


Direct link to that chapter of the book:
http://archive.org/stream/sunlightshadowbo00adamuoft#page/69/mode/1up

Sample page:











Apr 19, 2013 at 03:14 PM
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