OP: A smart phone does not make you a photographer

9 April 2019

Logan Davel

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    A walk down a modern city street will paint a recognizable picture. Although, it is a picture that Martin Cooper, the man attributed to the invention of the mobile cellular device, could not himself have imagined.

    Everyone from the food fanatics in the restaurants to the bored teenagers in the museums will most likely either be on their cell phone or will be waiting with bated breath for their phone to make a notification noise.

    All of these people have the same problem, a matter of convenience. Given the need to capture the moment, they will all simply pull out their phone and take a picture, all under the assumption that what they are taking is not necessarily a simply picture, but art.

    These self-labelled “photographers” only use their phones, never actually using photographic techniques, and yet will still classifying themselves as such.

    The truth is simple, simply snapping a photo and using the best over-saturated filter is not photography. Photography is just as much about the process as it is the final product and allowing an app to dictate your final product is a disservice.

    These people are most often recognized by their use of over-saturation or grossly stylized social-media photos of their morning coffee or afternoon hike. It is convenient: a snapshot of a memory that they can share with the entire world. However, it is missing the point and purpose of photography.

    One of the biggest differences between a “photographer” and an actual photographer is intent. Skill aside, the purpose of photography is the capturing of a moment. It is a subjective viewpoint that the photographer communicates to the viewer.

    The world is not infinite and thus the subject of the photo does not have to be unique, but it must have a purpose. Every action that a photographer takes from the point of observing the subject to the point of releasing the final image conveys a purpose by the steps that it took to capture the image.

    A prime example is street photography. A “photographer” will most likely take a selfie in front of their favorite store or a picture of their favorite latte art. All of these will be hidden behind a thick layer of pre-made filters.

    A photographer will experience the same aspects as everyone else, however the street photographer’s purpose is different. He or she wants each image to convey a point or focus. There is a story to be told.

    I’m not saying that selfies and latte art pictures do not have a place in the world. With the advent of social media and the “sharing” craze, the sharing of a person’s day to day life through a quick and convenient formula of snapshot and filter has its niche.

    However, a phone does not make you a photographer. The intent behind the image and the story that it conveys is what defines a photographer.