What makes you a photographer? Is it only the tools you use or is it something else?

Damon Winter is a photographer specializing in documentary, editorial, and portrait photography, and who has won the third place at Picture of the Year International with photographs taken with his iPhone and processed using the Hipstamatic app. A debate has immediately arisen: is it right to use apps and an iphone for making photography?Will this be the end of photojournalisms?

While purists declare that this is not “real” photojournalism (or photography), others and obviously the author himself state that this is a choice: the choice to use an iPhone and an app, just like the choice of the type of film, the depth of fielf, the use of black and white, the processing methods, and so on…

To say with Damon Winter’s words:

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.

The choice of tools determines the way the story will be told. But it’s not only about the technical aspects, it is also about the capacity of the photographer to see from new perspectives, to decide the means that will best suit the story he/she has in mind and wants to tell. It’s then more a question of being aware of all the available possibilities, of the mechanisms, and the decisions that lie behind the photographs.

It is absolutely true that “pro” and “advanced” tools allow more accurate results and fine shots, and this is what every photographer will look for most of the times. But can technical perfection be the best solution ever? Can it be the only criterion used to judge a shot? Wouldn’t it be a failure of photography and of photographers themselves to forget about the soul of an image?

Experimentation is the key of all arts and sciences. New techniques and tools are heartily welcomed as they serve to explore the limits and possibilities of photography. Shooting with an iPhone instead of the latest and coolest full frame camera won’t mean that the photographer has suddenly forgotten the rules of composition and the basics of photography. It is thanks to the constant researches and experiments done from the beginning of photography (let’s just think about the avant-gardes) that we are given the most memorable shots, the same shots that were once considered to be erroneous.

To future generations the “final” judgement on this never-ending debate… inm the meantime, what do you think about it?


About Marta Favro

Full time employee in an online marketing agency, photographer and traveller (not necessary in that order). Graduated in English Literature. Passionate of long walks in the Nature, cats, books, music.
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2 Responses to Storytellers

  1. midnitechef says:

    I used to paint (before kids came along) and depending on the medium used for a painting, there would be a certain feeling about it. I would say the same idea applies to photography: which ever medium is chosen will have impact on the final piece. If Damon wants the final shot to have a certain feel, he uses the iPhone to get it. Seeing that the environment he’s photographing can require him to quickly pack up and go, an iPhone is compact and lends itself to that environment.
    It’s like carrying a notebook and pencil versus the easle, oils, brushes,rags, linseed oil….

    • Marta Favro says:

      I think the choice of medium is essential to the feeling we want to give to a photograph (or a painting, or any other work), there are no good or bad ones. It all depends on the use we make of them and the goal we want to reach. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, love the reference to paintings! 🙂

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