iPhone killed the Photography Star?

First I would like to apologize for the cheesy title to this post, but I couldn’t resist. Video killed the Radio Star? More like iPhone killed the photography star (get it?). Well, maybe.

This blog post was inspired by an article I read recently in The Guardian titled “The death of photography: are camera phones destroying the art form?” In an age of camera phones, Instagram filters, and constant selfies, it seems safe to say yes; but in the photography world that discussion is far from simple. These days, anyone with a phone or decent digital camera can be a photographer. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you could capture a stunning, emotional, inspiring image with just your iPhone, or you could end up with 50 photos of your half-off sushi from Tsunami with an old-timey filter.

People say photography is a dying art, but I don’t believe that. To me, it feels like all art is dying. Which is great for us Graphic Design and Vis Com majors out there looking to make a living on just that. I hear the same things over and over again, “Photography is soooooo easy! Anyone can learn Photoshop! Have you ever thought about being a business major?” People don’t respect the arts anymore. Now that everyone has a camera and every Adobe tutorial you could dream of is available online, it seems that there is just less demand for those in creative fields. What people fail to realize that photography, graphic design, painting, ceramics are all skills in the same way that business administration, marketing, accounting, and economics are all skills. People in both these fields work hard to excel in their subject of choice, so why is it that the arts get the short end of the stick? People buy a new digital camera and suddenly they’re a photographer or download Adobe Illustrator and magically they become a designer. You would never hear someone say, “I’m pretty good working with Microsoft Excel, I could definitely do the job of an accountant.” But yet over and over again the artists of the world are having their trade overcome by anyone and everyone who can buy the right equipment and programs.

The Guardian article explores both sides of the argument; some photographers believe the camera phone has desensitized us and made us lazy, while others praise the ease and convenience of the iPhone for capturing shots in the moment. So which is more important, taking a technically correct photograph or taking a photograph capturing a crucial moment in our lives. I believe there’s a time and a place for both. The camera phone is great for allowing people to record their lives, share memories, and capture unexpected moments, but that doesn’t mean professional photographers should be any less respected because of it. The camera phone and point-and-shoot digital age have made us lazy, we can take hundreds of shots and just by coincidence one of them is bound to be good. But, the ground-breaking, influential, and inspiring images that pull at our heart strings and make us reevaluate our lives, those are no accident. You all know these kinds of images I’m talking about. The Execution of a Viet Cong Guerrilla, Migrant Mother, Tiananmen Square. These are the kinds of images that will keep photography alive.

 

Basketball Photos

On Tuesday, my advanced photo class took a field trip to the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center. Originally we were going to photograph each other, but thankfully some kind souls playing a game of pick up basketball let us photograph them. 

The lighting in the gym was tricky at first, because it seemed like it was well lit, but even at ISO 1600 my photos were coming out too dark. I ended up shooting most of my pictures with an ISO of 6400 and I changed the white balance to “cool-white fluorescent”. Changing the white balance is something that I usually forget to do when taking pictures. In my into photo class I did an entire project of car detail photographs outside with the white balance set as fluorescent rather than direct sunlight. When I viewed them on my camera’s LCD screen they didn’t seem too bad, but when I transferred them onto my computer I realized that all of my photos were horribly overexposed. Needless to say I ended up having to do the entire project over again, but it taught me a valuable lesson!

Photographing sporting events isn’t something new to me. Like I said in my first blog post, I used to photograph football for the USC Athletic Department. Those photos were more feature based than action based though (I usually missed the games because I was too busy taking pictures of the crowds!) If you are interested in looking at any of my photos you can access the Gamecocks Facebook albums here and here! Photographing football games was one of my favorite things to do because the atmosphere at Williams-Brice Stadium is just incredible and who doesn’t like being able to show off their press pass at an SEC sporting event? Free food in the press box wasn’t bad either. 

Photographing basketball was very different from football. In football, each team lines up across from each other, calls a play, and snaps the ball. You always know when the action is going to happen, and it’s easy to follow the ball. You know when to start shooting, when to stop shooting, and where to look for the action. In basketball, the action is everywhere on the court and it doesn’t stop for the duration of the game. Fast breaks, layups, steals, fouls, not to mention the interaction (fights) between the players! Luckily for us photographers, this pick-up game was fairly tame.

 

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This was my favorite photo I took while shooting. It’s a little darker than I would have liked, but like I said the lighting in the gym was a little funky. I liked this photo because I thought it really captured the action happening in that moment. The defender appears as if he just barely missed blocking the shot as the ball is headed towards the hoop. You can also see the other players on the court watching the shot, wondering whether or not it’s going to go in. While it was a friendly pick-up game, I think this photo really captured the competitive nature of the players. 

About Me

My name is Caitlyn Leary and I am a third year Visual Communications major and Graphic Design minor at the University of South Carolina. I’m from Charlottesville, Va and talk about it entirely too much. I love anything design or art related, although I can’t say that I was very artistically gifted. My love for design came not from my inherent artistic ability, but rather my curious nature as a child. When I was 13 I had the chicken pox and was forced to stay home from school for a week. To pass the time, as any adolescent girl does, I began to teach myself Adobe Photoshop and HTML.

While those came easy to me, photography unfortunately has not. ISO, F-stop, and shutter speeds haunt me in my dreams. My first experience with photography was with my internship in the Fall of 2012. I was working with the University of South Carolina Athletic Department and one of my duties was to take photos during the home football games. I was given a press pass and access to almost everywhere in Williams-Brice Stadium. The goal was to capture the experience of a Carolina fan, from the tailgating before to the atmosphere in the stadium to the excitement outside the stadium after a big win. The goal of this assignment was not necessarily to take the best quality photos, but to capture a feeling. This was one of my favorite internship duties, I loved the sports atmosphere and being able to interact with people and this sparked my interest in sports marketing (although I later decided on a graphic design minor instead).  After gaining some experience with a DSLR camera, I thought I was ready for my introduction to photovisual course. I was wrong. My first photography class was, in short, a disaster. I had no clue as to what I was doing and any decent photograph I managed to take was pure luck. Now I am in an advanced photovisual course and this blog is dedicated to my learning of what true photography is in a world where everyone with a smartphone and Instagram thinks they’re a photographer.

Currently I am working with my roommate’s Nikon D5200 DSLR camera. So far the camera seems to be intuitive and user-friendly. The LCD monitor displays information about the picture (ISO, aperture, etc.) using images, which is much easier for me to understand than raw numbers. For example, when you change the aperture, an icon of the aperture gets larger or smaller depending on the setting. As a visual person, this is immensely helpful for me to grasp the difference between f/8 and f/22. Once I practice with the camera enough I will hopefully have a better understanding of the camera settings and will no longer rely on the icons, but for now they are a beneficial learning tool.

I am a Taurus to a tee, bull-headed and stubborn, which can me into trouble at times. Chipotle and Chick-fil-a are my two major food groups. I fall asleep during movies, but love a good TV show or book. I’m a cat AND dog person, but are allergic to both. I tend to ramble.

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