As a photographer I have had what seemed to be a natural biased against using my iPhone over my ‘real cameras’ for a long time. Naturally when I saw an image I wanted to hold a full size camera in my hand, select my exposure and have a choice of lenses … at worst, I wanted a quality point and shoot that gave me manual control over my images.
Like most people, I snapped photos here and there with my phone, but I typically shied away from Instagram and Hipstamatic. As a teenager I spent a lot of time shooting for a traditional wedding photographer, every image was shot was a square and I learned to hate square images, instead embracing wide angle lenses and falling deeply in love with the 8×12 frame of my 35mm Nikons (now Nikon for film and Canon for digital).
As my work has shifted away from primarily being a shooter into other realms and my body began to ache more (a rebuilt shoulder, obliterated ligament in a foot, more than a few broken bones will do that to you) I found myself lightening my load and exploring my iPhone more and more until a few months ago I decided to start using Instagram as a way to challenge myself. Instagram is something I started to use while hating it, I hated everything about it. I hated the square format, I hated the loss of exposure control, but I liked that it forced me to start seeing things in a new way. I liked that Instagram made me work harder for my images, relearn timing and to adapt to my limitations.
Instragram, in short, something I viewed as dumbing down photography, is now something I see as something that has challenged me and rejuvenated my experience as a photographer. Since early June I found myself holding my ‘real camera’ at times and wondering how I could force myself into making a good image with Instagram, often shooting with both my professional kit and my iPhone as an exercise in making sure I don’t get lazy in finding my shots.
Am I happy with everything I shoot with Instragram and my iPhone? Far from it. I find myself more frustrated than satisfied … and that is a good thing. If I am frustrated, it means I need to learn the tool in my hand and use it more effectively. Photos are everywhere and embracing the challenges of a new format will allow me to see the world in a whole new way around me … just like when I first picked up my 1965 Nikomat FS with Nikkor 50mm non-Ai lens in 1985.
Last week Sports Illustrated ran a six page spread of Instragram images shot by sports photography master Brad Mangin, who’s work I have admired for more than a decade, this is an excellent reminder that it isn’t the camera in your hand, it is how you use the camera in your hand.
Below are 12 photos I’ve shot over the past few months with Instragram.
Wish You Were Here, Niantic, CT
New London, CT
Bristol Temple Meads Station, UK
Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5, UK
Midtown Manhattan, New York City
Double Rainbow, Niantic, CT
Douglas C-47 (DC-3), Ottawa Municipal Airport, Ottawa, KS
Ships At The End Of The Beach, Black Point, CT
A JetBlue Airbus A320 Flies Past A Child’s Flag, Atlantic Beach, N.Y.
I Grew Up Down There … short final into JFK International Airport, Valley Stream, N.Y.
Sunset, East Lyme, CT