Are mobile app’d images really photographs?

For several months I have seriously pondered the principles and ethics, asking myself ‘is this new mobile medium actually photography.’

With a background in graphic design, commercial and editorial fine art photography, including being a practicing fine multi-medium artist, I felt the need that this question be not only raised and discussed, but also answered. While I have no illusions that this article will not settle much, I remain hopeful that the art community will at least begin discussing the merits of my inquiry. Especially since this new art form is the fastest growing visual medium being explored and crosses all age barriers.

When I ask if mobile photography is actually photography, I am referring to images that have received a heavy application of iOS post production altering software, in which most traces, if not all, of a former photographs reality are lost. Yet we continue to refer to the altered image as a photography, why?

I have heard that it is no different then what we did in the old days in the darkroom with film and while this statement may have a ring of truth to it, a photographic print coming out of the darkroom still retained its appearance as a photographic print with photographic elements and not an image that has had its reality so greatly altered as with many of the mobile captured images.

Granted there are different degrees of applying iOS image altering application were major photographic elements are retained, while allowing the photographer/artist to interpret their creative and personal vision. But what about a photograph whose elements have been altered were most or all traces of it ever having been a photograph to start with are now lost? Yet we go on referring to the art work as a photograph and not as a digital painting, why? 

As a mobile photographer myself and one who has applied a number of iOS imaging altering post production applications, but also one who paints, using different mediums in the creation, I feel that we need to begin to properly define mobile photography.

When I look at the very creative work of Sarah Jarrett, MPA’s ‘Artist of the Year’ or that of talented mobile artist Karin Devine for example, I no longer see a photographic image. What I see is a former photograph that has been so altered that it appears more as a painting and yet referring to it as a mobile painting is also wrong. So what is the answer.

Mobile photography in which the image has had iOS post production application applied to enhance and not altered its reality of its appearance as a photograph, should continued to be referred to as a mobile photograph. Yet when the original image has had its appearance altered that the images foundation no longer resembles a photograph, should be referred to as a mobile multi-medium photograph.

This makes it clear to the viewer the foundation of the art work was once a photograph, but the artist elected to re-purpose the image into a personal creative expression of their artistic vision.

Regardless of the art work being a mobile photograph or a mobile multi-medium photograph, I have and continue to support both visions of mobile creativity. Either of the two-forms of artistic expression should have there rightful place in the art community. We just need to begin to understand the difference between the two art forms and refer to them accordingly. 

          Egmont van Dyck
          Founder of The iPhone Arts

     Notes on the images:

The original photograph was captured using KitCam with Dreamer lens and Deadwood film. Stage 1 and 2 had different KitCam lens and films applied. Stage 3 is the result of Stage 1 and 2 merged, using Blender.

Stages 4 thru 6 were applied using ScratchCam and the final stage the photograph was rendered using Vintage. 

All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
©2014 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved


Davide Capponi said...

You raised the fundamental question about mobile photography, Egmont
My works are quite well accepted in most of the contexts where I publish them, since they are seen/judged by peer mobile photographers.
But as soon as I move to a more general audience, my works are often questioned and commented on this very issue - Deviantart is an example of a creative community where I have big issues to fit.
My works have been refused by photography groups AND by digital art groups on the same terms.
So giving a name to what I/we create is a definite must I agree, and thanks for starting this.


Andrea Koerner said...

I agree that heavily apped photos should probably be called something other than photography because it's moved more into the realm of digital art. You could call it something like Appography. Digital Appography? And why couldn't it just be called digital art? I do think people do get too caught up in the name game. In the end couldn't we just call it a damn fine piece of art regardless of what medium was used to create it? :)

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