iPhoneography = Happiness

I have a minor (cough, MAJOR) obsession with: iPhoneography! What is it? According to FotoRhetoric it,

is the capturing, editing, and processing of photographic images with Apple iPhone devices (including iPad and iPod Touch) and within the App Ecology developed by and for those devices.

While I like that definition – I also think it is becoming, and perhaps already is, so much more. I think iPhoneography is representative of a whole movement and sub-culture in photography which has emerged to satisfy our need for instant gratification and immediate visual fulfillment.

Whereas my Canon 5d mII sometimes stays at home, even though my iPhone 4  doesn’t replace my Canon, it does go with me everywhere. I believe that iPhoneography isn’t just a singular obsession I enjoy alone. I think it’s a legitimate and useful form of art and expression. And a great tool for travel bloggers in particular, who want to travel light on the road but still have the advantage of great photographs that are web-ready without much work …

I’ve enjoyed a few truly incredible experiences as a result of my devotion. As I write this post, I’m looking out at the Alps from a hotel room in Innsbruck, Austria where I taught about iPhoneography and convinced a few more people of the merits of Instagram, Diptic and the like. In June, I taught a similar class two times in Vancouver. I’m always looking for more people to teach. I spend a considerable amount of time every week endeavoring to stay up-to-date on changes in the arena of iPhoneography – app updates, new releases, etc.

I’d like to present to you a few of my favorite things about iPhoneography … using the letters that make up the name of this obsession of mine:

I – is for my favorite instant-sharing app: Instagram, which allows one-touch uploading to all the major social media sites and also has a “tilt-shift” feature that simulates the very unusual, yet compelling effect one gets with a several-thousand-dollar dSLR tilt-shift lens.

P – is for Plastic Bullet which is likely the filter app that I use which has the most extreme effects yet which produces results that sometimes, simply, blow me away.

H – is for Hipstamatic. It was my first love where apps are concerned. It might be my last. Nothing else has compared to the unadulterated and basic fun Hipstamatic once brought, though other apps have begun to be used more frequently. I still go back to this app whenever I want to be surprised with joyful and unexpected results. With Hipstamatic, you can never be totally sure of what you’ll get and it does a spirit good to be surprised once in a while!

O – is for optimization. Learn to take good photos with an iPhone and believe that you REALLY can. It’s not a perfect image capturing device. However, it is optimized for fast capturing and gaining ground with each update and new release (4S = 8 MPX!!), it has thousands of apps which are optimized for fast sharing. Many apps help a budding photographer learn composition and the power of the rule of thirds. Learn what you and your iPhone can do best, and play on its strengths to have fun but also stop using that excuse, “Well it’s just a stupid cell phone camera.” It’s oh-so-much-more and you can be so much more with it.

N – is for Night Camera which is one of a few great options for time-delayed image capturing. Just open Night Camera, set your phone in place, run and pose by your sweetie – then voila your iPhone snaps a portrait of the two of you together without that awkward arm-held-way-out pose that makes almost anyone look a little weird! Banff Squirrel not included.

E – is for enjoyment that I have really loved helping to inspire in others! My own enjoyment of iPhoneography has helped to revive and give new life to my general love of photography and I’ve seen that happen for other people as well. If you “google it”, you’ll see I am far from the only one in the universe who is obsessed to the aforementioned point, with iPhoneography. Can this many of us *really* be crazy? Or is it simply a happy expression of our natural creative bent that is as contagious as chickenpox … (I think the Photojojo folks might side with me! Maybe Apple too.)

O – is for: OMG, YOU CAN ACTUALLY PRINT IPHONE PHOTOS!!! Simply toggle the size setting in any app or in the general settings for the phone to save at the highest resolution and on an iPhone 4 you’ll be producing photos that are large enough to be printed and hung on a wall or pasted into a scrapbook. Make momma happy – you can even have your iPhone photos made into postcards and sent home. Just don’t forget to add “Wish You Were Here”!

G – is for good enough to cause Chase Jarvis to actually trademark the phrase, “The best camera is the one that’s with you!” He has a phrase, an iPhone app and a business created around the idea that an iPhone is a wonderful image-capturing device. It’s more than good enough, sometimes, it’s the best tool for the job!

R – is for retro effects which truly abound in filter-applying photo apps. Do you miss the days of Polaroid? ShakeItPhoto is for you! Loved the Cross Process technique of color developing and mourn spending hours in the darkroom applying that effect to printed images? Download the CP app!

A – is for Autostitch which is a great way to create a panoramic image directly on your iPhone. You don’t need to buy that expensive camera they’re using that blonde country singer to advertise! 360 and Pano (also made for Android phones) are additional apps that function similarly to the way Autostitch does.

P – is for Pixels: The Art of the iPhone. Pixels is one of several groups curating iPhoneography to the point where they are elevating it to its own art form singular within the greater field of photography. They take it quite seriously. Also deserving of note is the international Mobile Photo Group which has such stringent acceptance policies one might think they are applying to be a member of the Smithsonian Art Institution!

H – is for the hell that might be made of your ToDo list when you too join in the iPhoneography fun. My mother keeps asking me if she should get an iPhone 4 (she can barely make calls on her non-smart-cell-phone), my best friend received my old iPhone 3Gs and in one week nearly reached the same level of my obsession, I had a previous iPhone 4 stolen out of my hands in Buenos Aires and for days after it happened you might have picked me up off the floor in a million pieces so sad and complacent was I without my beloved. So go ahead, get an iPhone and join in the hell. Er, fun. Just beware, don’t make any plans for the first week of ownership -and send me a picture, eh?

Y – is for “You might think I’m crazy if you’ve read this far.” But keep in mind, some of this is decidedly tongue-in-cheek. I’ll let you figure out for yourself just which bits I’m referring to.

Want even more app recommendations? Ask, and you shall receive!



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  • jenjenk

    Any chance of just an iphonography class next year? i sat in on both of your classes at TBEX & i think that there’s enough content to have a separate class for traditional photog & iphonography! :)

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      It’s a really excellent question! As I am not in charge of TBEX, I can’t guarantee anything. But I hope so. I’d like to see a class not just on iPhoneography but what you can do with the Android and Windows phones as well. And new technology like WiFi cards that go in your camera and then automatically transmit what you take right to a computer with geotagging included … There’s so much mobile technology that is just perfectly suited to aid travelers!

  • http://thejungleprincess.com Abby

    You’re the only person who’s come close to getting me to buy an iphone! If I do, I’d better get a Skype date/tutorial!

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Abby, that may be one of the highest compliments you could ever give me :) :) Haha – the day you get one, if I can I will fly to Vegas to help you. Skype date at the very least :) :)

      • http://twitter.com/nearafar Natalie T.

        Same! I don’t have an iphone but when I get the money, I know it will be partially to take cool photos on the go and upload them instantaneously. This is what I hate about my current camera. Great post! 

  • http://www.hecktictravels.com Peter Heck

    I am intrigued what iPhone’s can do now.  Amazing photos, I especially like the one with the Toronto skyline and the sun.  I might have to try and convince Dalene that we should get one for our travels. This post will help my argument.

  • http://www.chasingtheunexpected.com Angela

    Beautiful photos, it’s unbelievable they are taken with an iPhone, they look better than mine taken with an SLR :P

  • http://Travelogged.com Travelogged

    I love your iPhone photos — you inspire me to try to take better iPhone photos. The only app I’ve been using lately is Instagram – totally addictive. But now I will check out these other ones. I actually have Hipstamatic, but it’s hard to remember to use it. I like how with Instagram you apply filters after the fact.

  • http://mslistologist.com Annette | Bucket List Journey

    Ilove Instagram, but never had used the tilt-shift…until reading this. It made my photo look like a professional took it! Awesome!

  • http://www.unframedworld.com/ Lori – The Unframed World

    Great post. Makes me wish I had an iPhone…

  • http://www.novacationrequired.com Caanan @ No Vacation Required

    OK… we’re in! We’ve got the iPhone (and the Apple obsession!), now we just need use it for photos.

  • jeannie

    I totally loved this post about why iPhoneography makes you happy! Really enjoy the examples you used to illustrate the possibilities and capabilities of iphoneography and iphone camera apps, as well as which apps you like using!

  • http://twitter.com/EthanAdeland Ethan Adeland

    As a new iPhone user, this couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m already hooked on “i” for Instagram and starting to play around with some other apps.  As always, your talent and excitement shine through :)

  • http://vagabond3.com Jade

    you are my hero. ever since your presentation at TBEX I am an avid iphonography lover. finding new apps to try and love makes the everyday things so much more fun.

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      You are too sweet Jade. It was so much fun getting to know you and Bob better at TBEX and I really enjoyed seeing you two at my class and seeing your excitement grow. I’ve loved following you on Instagram since then!

  • http://sarahsloboda.com SarahSloboda

    Inspiring, as always!  Thanks for sharing your tips!!  I’ve been wondering what you think of Camera+ … didn’t see it on your list here, but I’ve been liking it for a lot of reasons.  Any thoughts?

  • Charu

    Do you know I still cannot find Instagram on Android and it KILLS me?!! Love your photos, as always. Especially the first –vintage girl in a mirror. It’s a period piece and a screenplay waiting to happen.

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  • http://www.driftingfocus.com Kelsey Freeman

    I’m with you on the iPhonography front.  I used to carry a small PNS with me everywhere (because, like you, I don’t care to drag my SLR everywhere), but my iPhone has now completely usurped its place in my bag.  The photos it takes are almost as good, and once you start messing with some of the apps that are out there, I find that it’s actually *more* enjoyable.

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Exactly. That’s precisely how it is Kelsey!

  • http://www.trainsonthebrain.com Jools stone

    Ok, so I have just joined the 21st century and got a windows phone. (Hey, it was free!) Any pointers on where to go to get the best out of that, including handy apps? It doesn’t do Instagram apparently. Kash nearly wept when he heard that news.

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Hi Jools! It’s tough, since the iPhone was the first smart phone to really have a good camera … most of the resources are for iPhoneography. However, this is a good place to start: http://mashable.com/follow/topics/mobile-photography/ Mashable’s “mobile photography” tag covers all smartphone photography.

      Also, the principles of good photography still exist: remember it’s not about the tool you’re using, it’s about the photographer behind the lens. Resolve to take good photographs and don’t use excuses of inferior equipment to allow yourself bad photographs. If the phone has the capability to take “macro” photos, do that for detail shots to break up series of wider landscape photos when telling the story of a place. Follow the rule of thirds. Turn on a grid for shooting if the phone has that setting, this will help with the rule of thirds. Look for the best light and don’t use the internal flash if at all possible (they’re never good on a phone or a camera).

      Oh Kash!

  • http://www.bzpost.blogspot.com Lorenzo Gonzalez

    Thanks for this! I enjoyed reading this as I am recently getting into iPhoneography ;)

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      That’s great to know Lorenzo! Thank you for reading the post.

  • Anonymous

    Very helpful info Kirsten, thank you!  I’ve been on Instagram for about a month and love it.  I can’t wait to try out AutoSwitch that you recommended.  I had no idea you could do panoramas with an iPhone. 

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thank you for saying so!! Yes – it’s so easy to do great panoramas with the iPhone. One of my favorite types of app to use. Sometimes, one image just isn’t enough. Why not combine MANY ;)

  • http://camelsandchocolate.com CamelsAndChocolate

    This is the most helpful app list I’ve ever read! Amazing. You rock, sista. Also, while I follow your Tumblr site (and all your other social media accounts), how did I not know about this one????

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thanks for saying so Kristin!! I plan to do another installment soon with updates since a lot has changed in photo apps since I posted this in August. Also, I am teaching more workshops still, this Friday in NYC and in Italy in August. There’s always more for me to learn myself and I love sharing what I learn.

      Thank you for reading. And commenting!

      I don’t know how you didn’t know about this site … but I am glad you do now :)

  • http://www.theworldorbust.com/ TheWorldOrBust

    wow, who knew an Iphone camera could take those shots!

    • http://www.kirstenalana.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thanks! Yes – an iPhone camera can do a LOT … you just have to know how to use it.

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  • http://www.andrewcaldwell.info/ Andrew Caldwell

    Great recommendation of Night Camera, thanks :) 

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