By Zarina Holmes
The renaissance of the real-time photography storytelling via WiFi-ready mobile phones has seen important images shared and distributed around the globe within seconds. This is a good thing.
Perhaps it is true that photo-sharing apps are responsible for millions of meaningless photos of people’s lunches and the interior of international airports.
However the smartphone photography has entered a second phase, where it is now adopted by professional photographers to connect instantaneously with their audience, in a way that could never be done by print and broadcast media before.
Traditionally lengthy post-production process is now cut short via the app’s ready-made filters.
In short, a professional image maker equipped with Instagram is a one-man or woman mobile studio and broadcast channel ready to report from anywhere (with 3G connectivity) on this planet.
We are now only a Tweet away from discovering the great stories that are happening every day.
Photo-sharing app is a your brand channel
Photographers can start cultivating loyal followers using their own photo-sharing app channels, instead of waiting for publishers to run their stories.
This would give photographers direct communication access to their audience, own their archives and shape their story content through their unique brand channels.
The photo-sharing channel concept is great, provided the Terms & Conditions and copyright ownership of the contents are clear from the start.
Instagram is reported to have ironed out last December’s TOS furore which had caused a huge backlash from image makers.
On the other hand, the public need to be made aware that it is unrealistic to offer a reliable publishing or channel hosting service without sufficient funding.
We are now curators of our own channels
The fact that almost everyone has access to these mobile channels also means that people are becoming curators of their own experiences.
Social media aggregators such as Twitter and Facebook has taught the public how to edit and distribute messages.
That doesn’t mean we are protected from poor aesthetic taste, and the deluge of banal food and pet images.
Accomplished photographers should aim to be high level curators and reliable gatekeepers of information.
They should be armed with high aesthetic judgement, knowledge of ethics and unique point-of-view to attract a successful number of followings.
Now savvy publishers, such as Dirt Magazine, have successfully integrated Instagram channels as an extension to their content distributions, to strengthen their audience base.
Our first camera is now the mobile phone
For anyone who was born from the late 80s and onwards, the mobile phones are likely to be their first experience with photography.
Online photo-sharing plays an important role now in social bonding and sharing constructive experiences.
This is the beginning of accomplished storytellers of the next generation.
Not long ago, we sniffed at the idea of having a smartphone photography workshops. Now established news organisations have been known to hold smartphone reporting courses for their staff.
Popular photography website, Photojojo, has introduced the ‘Phoneography 101′ course, teaching photography fundamentals for the smartphone camera.
My former multimedia college, Kensington and Chelsea College in London, have been offering iPhoneography course since 2012.
This is an indication that smartphone photography is heading towards prominence in storytelling.
What do you see through your smartphones?
KL International Photoawards 2013 will be introducing a new Smartphone Story category to discover smartphone photography talents and the community they documented.
The theme is ’1000 Yards’ which is to encourage images and stories from local communities and neighbourhood within the walking distance from the photographer’s home or workplace.
Hopefully the focus on hyper-local subjects can provide a fresh perspective on community portraiture, and encourage a more intelligent way of seeing though smartphone cameras.
Zarina Holmes is one of the panel judges of KL International Photoawards 2013.