Cell Phone Cameras and the Pros

Over at the Poynter Institute, Keith Jenkins has a post up about professional photojournalists using cell phone cameras for their work assignments.

It’s a nice introduction to the topic, though I wish it delved a little deeper. Yesterday I was interviewed by a reporter for our student newspaper about the effects of Instagram on professional photographers (will post a link when the story is up), and one of the things I highlighted was not so much that the tool isn’t up to the task it was the software that was being used.

Screen Shot 2012 06 20 at 8 43 52 AMApplications like Instagram and Hipstamatic (both of which are on my phone, both of which I have played with for my personal shooting) allow you to apply a lot of filters, affecting color, saturation, sharpness and other variables. My complaint about these is that they are infusing a sense of false nostalgia on an image.

We’ve all had the experience of flipping through the grandparents’ photo album, seeing the faded, scratched and yellowed images with the scalloped edges and typewrite-like date stamps on them. We look at those photos, images that have frozen people we know now in time, and there’s an automatically imbued sense of importance and history.

But when you apply that effect to modern images, it’s deception. It’s tricking the human brain into thinking something is more valuable than it really is. It’s sugar cane for the brain – once experienced, it clouds all other tastes, rendering them bland and unworthy.

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