Photography, Photographs, are they the same?

Photo of an iPhone taking a photo of another iPhone

Camera on Camera action

I, like many readers of blogs, read a lot of blogs. My main ones are unsurprisingly about photography or photographers. One of these constant resources is that of Zack Arias . I like Zacks blog. He is constantly striving to be better at what he does and his passion is self evident in his work and his writing. Now not everything he says I agree with but I don’t let that get in the way of enjoying what he has to say and share. This post is about the fallout of one of his latest posts. Well, not so much the fall out as my thoughts on it.

Zack does portfolio reviews on his website. He and his wife Meg will fire up their mac at 12.01 am in the morning, crack open a Newcastle Brown and go through a readers website with a constructive criticism. Sometimes they can be harsh., really harsh. Most of the time they are right. Sometimes the readership disagrees. Their last critique was one of those times. Zack saw a cookie cutter style portrait in a portfolio of work and declared that although it was a photograph it was not photography. He has since posted again on this subject, graceful I may add. admitting he was too harsh. When I heard that comment I knew what he was getting at but I didn’t agree that it was not photography. It obviously was photography but not at a level he expected of that photographer.

What has any of this got to do with me or iNOLOGY. Well, while I am sure that Zack Arias would not be impressed with the low res, non flash photography, uncontrollable aperture of an iPhone camera I do think that he would understand the idea that you can still use one to become a better photographer. The reason is this. Zack and I seem to share the idea that if you are going to take a photograph you are going to want to make it unlike everyone else’s. You do not want to take the same shot as the last guy, you are going to want to try to work to define your own style and make your photographs, your photographs. This action of self improvement is what creates a photographer capable of “photography” as Zack would have it. This is something that the limited capabilities of the iPhone have helped me to do. When I used my Canon5D I was a developing a style but with so many options for focal length and lighting and expsoure it was taking a while to settle down.  Now, after 9 months of constant iPhoneography that style is really taking shape. Not only that I always find myself questioning whether this photograph is going to be unique, will it be just like any other photograph or series of photographs. Will I be happy to view it or will I feel like I’ve failed in my task. In the past I would take a shot and if it didn’t work the way I wanted or expected I’d just stop. Now I keep trying, over and over to get that image that speaks to me.

Not every photo I take is a keeper. Not every photo I take is in my style. Sometimes I succumb and just take the shot, that same one everyone else does but those rarely see the light of day. Although Zack Arias doesn’t use an iPhone as his primary camera of choice I will add him to my virtual list of iNOLOGIST.

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