SMARTPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY: MEDIUM, STYLE, AND AESTHETICS

Y.H. Huang

East Stroudsburg University (UNITED STATES)
With smartphones in almost everyone’s hands, people now have more opportunities to create images everywhere they go. In addition, with the advancement of smartphone technology, the quality of smartphone photographs seems to be more competitive with those taken with digital cameras. Smartphone photography is now a blooming trend in the digital world.
This paper focuses on a smartphone photography show, iPhotography: Smartphone Photo Exhibition, held at East Stroudsburg University in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, United States in 2012. Eight photographers were invited to participate in the show. The only requirement for this show was that all photographs had to be created with smartphones. There was no theme or particular parameters for subject. Photographs could be manipulated using smartphone apps, such as Filterstorm and Instagram, but no computer software was allowed. Computers were only used for printing purposes.
After observing these eight photographers’ photographs and their artist statements, this paper investigates the medium, style, and aesthetics of smartphone photography. Students from different levels of photography courses that I taught were required to visit the show and submit their findings in paper form; their perceptions are also included. The role of smartphone cameras in relation to digital cameras, the mechanic characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of smartphone photography, as well as its possibility of becoming an art medium are discussed. When inquiring into the style of smartphone photographs, this article explores the subject matters, the main ideas, the role of photo manipulation in smartphone photographs, as well as the differences between smartphone photographs and regular photographs in terms of angle selections, perspectives, and framing. Lastly, this paper examines the knowledge provided by smartphone photographs to viewers, whether it is the decisive moments, the expression of feelings, the formal quality, the critique of the visual culture, or the combination of any of the above.