Last month the New York Times ran this very interesting item on a photographer who won a prize in the prestigious Pictures of the Year International competition using an iPhone and the Hipstamatic app.
At the centre of the controversy was the legitimacy of the image and the discussion of the place for these apps in photo journalism.
The photographers rebuttal statement is a great read on its own — here’s one excerpt that brings home the issue as I see it:
At the heart of all of these photos is a moment or a detail or an expression that tells the story of these soldiers’ day-to-day lives while on a combat mission. Nothing can change that. No content has been added, taken away, obscured or altered. These are remarkably straightforward and simple images.
What has gotten people so worked up, I believe, falls under the heading of aesthetics. Some consider the use of the phone camera as a gimmick or as a way to aestheticize news photos. Those are fair arguments, but they have nothing to do with the content of the photos.
We are being naïve if we think aesthetics do not play an important role in the way photojournalists tell a story. We are not walking photocopiers. We are storytellers. We observe, we chose moments, we frame little slices of our world with our viewfinders, we even decide how much or how little light will illuminate our subjects, and — yes — we choose what equipment to use. Through all of these decisions, we shape the way a story is told.
Do check out the full article. I’m in the ‘anything is a tool’ camp — any tool is valid, but the artistic and journalistic integrety are paramount in the creation of the final image.
As long as the fundamental truths depicted in the final image are those that were present at the time the initial image was captured are represented, it’s all fair game.