Moods masked in filters.

Ever since getting an iPhone 4 back in Ddecember 2010, I’ve been using it way much more than my Canon S90 or even my bulky pro Canon 7D. And I kept wondering why, till I started seeing what I was being able to do with it. This isn’t a commercial for the iPhone, trust me. It’s a curiosity into how smartphone’s have taken over the point-and-shoot camera’s. Living in Jordan, I rarely see anyone these days with a pocket camera, everyone is flashing away on their blackberries and HTC’s and iPhone’s. I mean, it is easier, you’re always carrying it and it’s super fast to upload onto Facebook. For the past year of 2011, I've been trying to analyze in a ‘documentary’ kind of way, how smart [camera] phone technology has changed the field of photography and is currently shaping how we see, not just look at, but really how and what we see with our eyes in our daily lives and also, what part does it play in assisting photographer's tell their stories.

I started a small project in Jan.1,2011 that everyday I would take one photo for the entire year of 2011. Some days I forgot, some days I took 3-4 images. The point of the project was a personal excercise to allow me to constantly see things in a different way. Not just when I have a camera on me or on a job, but to keep on the lookout for anything interesting to photograph. And so everyday, I'd start to see a shadow looking good here, a person in the corner there or the lines and shapes from this road look like a good shot, etc, I'd take my iPhone out and snap it. However, over time, and after downloading bucket loads of photo apps, I noticed that, not just did I see things differently but I would know what app to use for it. Some scenes I'd say, let me use the Camera+ app and add the 70's fx to it. The next day I'd see something and think straight away "let me use Hipstamatic for this." or "this would be a nice shot as an eFlyer for my friend's music gig using Phoster.", and so forth. It's like I started to see the world in filters, which at that point I realized, filters are moods. The Nashville in Instagram is a certain mood, the tilt-shift in Snapseed is a mood. (This may seem already obvious to some so excuse me if it took me a while to get it). We see a scene and apply a mood to it because this is how we see it and this is what we want to share with our audience. With such a plethora of moods [filters] at our fingertips, they are more genuine and on-the-spot than if you had to wait to go home, import the photo, open photoshop and decide then what you wanted to do with it, (because that way, you might try different moods and see which one fits, which could be ok in some cases, but it wouldn't be raw.) Of course, underlying all solid images will always be composition, frame, light, etc. This whole point goes back to the concept of story-telling photography, we create stories through images. And with that mood at that moment, we invite our audience to assist us in 'seeing' the scene with us. It's like the viewer is actually part of the creative process. The more distant the filter is from the real scene infront of us, the more the viewer has the chance to be trasnported into that nostalgic scene in their head and imagine they are there. If I take a photo of a child playing in the sand, for example. Do I take it in black and white because I want to convey the memory of youth and fun? Do I add a toy-camera effect to remind myself of being young and to bring out my inner-child more often? Do I apply the pinhole effect because I'm fascinated with 1800's-style photography? Do I this, that, etc. All these are moods, and one of them will end up being the one uploaded and shared in the hope of getting that Like, retweet or eventually added to your personal portfolio of iPhoneography.

At the end of the day, the main essence and underlying factors that make great, timeless photographs are still the same. Photographers still need to think about light, about composition, about color, lines, shapes, rule of thirds and all that. I don't think those will ever change. Whether we're using a Canon, a Nikon, a toy Holga or an iPhone, the idea is, as Ken Rockwell said "Photography is in the power of observation, not the application of technology." Even Damon Winter spoke about the importance of aesthetics in documentary photography, although I personally believe it applies to all other genre's of photography as well. Filters, in a general sense, alongside technique are a reflection of the photographer's mood at the moment the shutter is pressed and which, therefore, tells the photographer's story.

Some moods of mine...

Lone Bridge Walker - Amman, Jordan. Watching Elephants - South Africa
Looking Upward - Dubai, U.A.E Jaywalker - Amman, Jordan

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