Is iPhoneography the next step in the Art of Photography?

Over the last few months I’ve committed myself to learn how to use an iPhone to create art. iPhoneography, or smartphone art, is fascinating and probably as controversial as digital photography was years ago when it was a new art form.

The images below were created on a recent Saturday. None of these photographs would have been created if I was packing my regular camera gear. The whole concept of iPhoneography is to view photography differently. The camera is far from a pro level DSLR with a set of good lenses. It’s a camera sporting a tiny lens and sensor with few controls over the exposure. The apps designed to process photographs created by the iPhone, or other smartphones, can give you some sophisticated controls, but you are processing those images on the small screen of the phone or iPad without the aid of a mouse. These are challenges, but they are also opportunities. iPhoneography creates a new mindset for the photographer to create art in a completely different way. 

Readers copyright Richard Lewis All Rights Reserved

Readers by Richard Lewis 2014 – Apps Used: Perfectly Clear, Snapseed

Sitting in my local coffee shop I noticed these two women. The light was beautiful and I loved the fact that in the woman in the foreground was reading a paper while her phone sat on the table. As usual, everyone else had their head buried in a phone or computer screen. The iPhone is a perfect street photography camera because it is so easy to be discreet. I felt this scene had an Edward Hopper feel to it so I processed it with that in mind.

A Rainy Day In Atsion copyright Richard Lewis All Rights Reserved

A Rainy Day by Richard Lewis 2014 – Apps Used: Snapseed, Leonardo, Retouch

It was pouring rain as we pulled into the parking lot for the Mullica River hiking trail in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, so we decided to wait in the car until the rain died down. I shot this through the wet windshield because I loved how it distorted the straight line of the fence. After moving the car around to find the right position I took this photograph and did a lot of the post processing while waiting for the storm to break. This is one advantage of being able to process your photos on the device you created them on.

Cedar Stand copyright Ricard Lewis All Rights Reserved

Cedar Stand by Richard Lewis 2014 – Apps Used: Snapseed, DistressedFX, Retouch

Although I’ve hiked the Mullica River Trail many times, I never noticed this little stand of dead cedars. The abstract lines of the trees caught my attention this time. I had to shoot the scene with the iPhone zoomed in all the way. This created a even lower quality image because the “zoom” on an iPhone is just in in-camera cropping tool that gives you even less pixels to work with. iPhoneography invites the photographer to use the imperfections of a lower quality image to explore abstraction in photography.

Ansel Adams probably would not have embraced the iPhone as a camera. As a photographer who shares Adams’ discipline of meticulously composing, exposing and processing an image, I find using a telephone as a camera is forcing me to view my craft, and my subject matter, much differently. It’s an interesting challenge that is expanding my vision as an artist.

If you have any questions about iPhoneography don’t hesitate to ask them here in the comments. We can explore this wonderful art form together.


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