Phoneography

24 Apr
Instagram - Powerlines

Instagram - Powerlines

I’m just going to say it.  The people at Apple, Inc. are marketing geniuses…es….ess. (How do you pluralize that?)  There was a time…before my time…yeah…that’s it…when the Mac had nothing on IBM. People looked at the Mac as inferior. All the cool kids had IBM (or IBM compatibles…Gateway, Dell, etc) and the rest…well, they had Macs.

That all changed with the white ear buds.  Even now, several years later, I still remember the first silhouette commercials with indie music playing on the iPod…and the white ear buds.  Those things became a status symbol.  If you had the white ear buds, you were part of the club. The ‘in crowd’. You were the next generation of cool kid.

Since then, Apple seems to have mastered the idea of brand loyalty and proprietary marketing.  After all, those go hand-in-hand.  The cool kids club comes with benefits.  A year ago, Hipstamatic was making non-iPhone owners drool.  And after that, Instagram.  iPhone users, and only iPhone users, could churn out vintage/retro images to a community of other vintage/retro image producers.  And did I mention it was cool?

Obviously, with the Android-Instagram app release, and subsequent purchase of Instagram as a whole by Facebook, the game has changed for that particular application.  But, the impact Instagram and Apple have had on the world of photography has not.  I’m going to break it down for you, mmmkay?

The first thing that I think is notable about community apps like Instagram is that it opens the creative door for people while at the same time providing affirmation.  Now, there are a number of photographers out there who decry Instagram as another way for the “me” generation to spew self-centered garbage out into the world.  (Disclaimer: the views of those individuals do not necessarily reflect the views of Seeing Spots Photography.  And whhhhyyyy? Well, let me tell you!).

I’m all for creativity.  I’m also, obviously, a huge proponent of photography. I also remember that my first camera was…ummm…limited. So were my photo editing skills.  And while my images might not have been quite as good as the work I produce now, it was still a creative outlet for me…  In the words of David Pasillas, an iphonetographer-friend, “I suppose we all started out with simple edits or bad filters and evolved into much more complex edits. I know I was guilty of putting awfully harsh vignettes on most of my images a few years ago. haha” (Check out his work with the iPhotos. He impressed me with how much he can do with just a cell phone and some apps!)

The second thing I respect about apps like Instagram is the likeability factor.  (I’m not even sure if that is a word…catch me if you can, Grammar Police!)  I think community apps like Instagram catch on because they make photography accessible.  Brian Jarvis, of the Brian Jarvis Band, uses Instagram as a marketing tool for his music.  He noticed that as a culture, we embrace technology that makes life (or in this case, creating art) easier and more accessible.  He gave examples he was familiar with such as Auto-Tune and Pro Tools.  People have readily adopted those programs because they make decent quality music recordings a whole heck of a lot easier. The polished studio sound still requires knowledge and hard-earned skill, but for the average consumer, a program like Cakewalk is a dream come true!

It would seem my friend Nick from Nick Exposed agrees.  He pointed out, “I think it all boils down to these companies bringing the ease of photo development into the hands of the average person. It gave the average Joe the ability to make their images stand out in a way that they haven’t had access to before without the help of a photographer or similar creative.”  That, in conjunction with the community aspect of the application – where you gain both affirmation and a sense of inclusion when you post images – makes Instagram a marketing win (times two)!

The obvious success that Apple has had in creating a culture of brand loyalty has, I believe, encouraged a whole generation to be creative.  In doing so, it has changed the face of 2012 photography by affecting demand.  For the “me” generation, the vintage feel of Hipstamatic and Instagram images is normal…and the “me” generation are our newest crop of clients! Is it any coincidence that there is a noticeable trend among portrait / event photographers (at least, in my area) to produce slightly desaturated images with adjusted color balance? As my photographer-friend Will from WhereToWillie.com said, “It’s a trendy thing now to have photos that have the retro feel. Vintage clothes are in, vintage looks are in.” Will finished that thought with a note about individuality, though. “I’m sure those of us ‘in the industry’ will be influenced by people’s notion of ‘what is cool’ in how we will process photos for them, but at the end of the day when I work on my personal photos, I’m doing it for me, and will continue to impart my personal style however that may evolve.”

That statement is, I think, a nice segue into the difference between iPhoneography and Instagrammers. While all of the creatives I talked to seem to agree that there are good things to be said about community apps like Instagram, it is also clear that there are limitations to individuality.  As David Pasillas said, “For me, there is a lack of fulfillment if I just apply a filter or an action to an image and call it good. Is that really art if you do the same thing to every image, or are you [just] showcasing a product (i.e. a filter or action?)”

He went on to say that iPhoneography is much more than applying a filter. It involves vision and education, just like in traditional photography. “At the end of the day, a camera is a camera. If you know how to use your camera, you can create awesome images regardless of the camera’s limitations…you can do impressive things with the iPhone if you take time to get to know the different apps available. And there are no shortage of awesome apps at very reasonable prices.”

Spoken like a man with some brand loyalty, right? =)

****
Important other stuff!

I want to give special thanks to all of the people mentioned in this blog.  They were kind enough to share their time, opinions, experiences and expertise…greatly appreciated!

I don’t even own an iPhone! But Droidography isn’t making quite as big a splash.  Hey Apple marketing team…wanna donate some time to me?!

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7 Responses to “Phoneography”

  1. David Pasillas April 24, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    The funny thing is I’ve only been using Apple products for about 5 years. Before that, I was loyal to PC crap because my dad worked for HP. I refused all of my friends attempts to convert me to apple. I finally did after the billionth time my PC screwed up and lost all of my data. Now I hate Microsoft!

  2. fiztrainer April 25, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    iPhone Photographer mentioned your blog in his post and I am so glad he did. I love your blog. Your photos are great and I’m learning a lot in just one evening reading your posts. 😀

    • seeingspotsphoto April 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

      So glad to have you visit! Hope you make it a regular thing 😉 Thank you for the kind words, I really enjoy photos and helping other creatives. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

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