Thursday, August 25, 2011

The third wave of amateur photography

Strolling Artists, Bearing iPhones, article.

Amateur photography was almost dead in the nineties, I guess because personal computers took up the time of most hobbyists. I remember asking in a kiosk in a train station for photo magazines. The girl looked helplessly around, didn't find any, and said: "... if you'd asked for computer magazines, then...", pointing at the wide range available of those.

Then, just around the millennium, good digital cameras began to be priced so amateurs could afford them, first with the Canon 30D, then even more with the Nikon D70. And amateur photography took off again like a rocket, to the degree that prices in most areas of professional photography have suffered greatly.

And now, just in time for the second decade of the third millennium (what cool timing), the iPhone 4 has put a really good camera in an affordable phone, and tons of apps have arrived, even more affordable (ridiculous prices even, one or two dollars a piece). And Internet apps like Instagram let people share photos worldwide in seconds.

Maybe most of the practitioners are not "real artists", but heck, neither was most people ever, no matter the technology. The iPhone 4 camera is about as good as most 35mm cameras were, in some ways much better, so I really don't see any reason to look down the nose at this new phenomenon. Who knows where it will lead. For example, for years  much of the work in early desktop publishing was effect-happy, using all the fonts available in one document and such. But things mature.

From the Instagram fan "DocPop": 


Ken said...

An important reason is that the web makes it so much easier to show your photography, especially if it is unusual. In the 80's it was either a local camera club or a photography magazine, now you can have your own website or use something like flickr and get your photographs seen by a lot of people.

Geoff Belfer said...

I totally agree with with what you said. As an amateur photographer of over 40 years I embraced digital photography (2nd wave) and thought that would be it for the rest of my lifetime. But upgrading my phone to an iphone4 a few months ago I have discovered what seems to be a new understanding of what photography is. It bears some relation to traditional (film) photography regarding composition etc. but the real difference is the use of Apps to process the image into what you want the photograph to be. e.g. when I used slide film the end result was when I pressed the shutter. Now, taking a photograph on my iphone is just the beginning of what I want the picture to show or represent.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thanks, guys.

Ken, yes, that difference is so big it's hard to really fathom.

Geoff, yes indeed.
I do admit I don't use those apps a lot, I think I want more subtle adjustments. Also, an iPhone screen does not give me much satisfaction when looking at a picture, I want at least iPad size. And a really big monitor rocks, it becomes almost different pictures.
(For *taking* the pictures, the iPhone 4 is no slouch though.)
Maybe I'm just stuck, what do I know.