Izzit Art?

This past week I joined two friends on a journey to Napa, CA for a day of photography, friendship and fun. Billed as a Photowalk, by the end of the day it lived up to our expectations.

markham galleryWe caught the morning sun at a Grist Mill and played with dappled mid-day light in a cemetery that dated back to the Gold Rush era. The day ended at the Markham Vineyards in St. Helena where one of us has a photo on exhibit in a gallery.

My two companions are both at the professional level of photography. The World of Advertising is their specialty and for me the day was a great opportunity to listen & learn; to observe & discover.

The three of us toured the photos in the gallery and discussed various images that caught our attention. My friends began to talk about the difference between iPhoneography and Mobile Art.

The gist of their conversation is:

  • iPhoneography consists of taking a photo and applying some edits (contrast, highlights, shadows, etc.) in much the same way that you would do if you were printing an image in a darkroom.
  • Mobile Art consists of applying editing programs that add elements to an image (objects, textures, graphics).

I thought back to 4 years ago when I started using my first iPhone to photograph and edit images. Taking a perfectly good photo and adding layers of color and texture to it was not a natural act.

At the time, I struggled to put a label on the process. The artist in me needed a push—permission—to make the plunge into this new, ill-defined world of IPhoneography/Mobile Art.

Here are two examples of my own photos to illustrate this topic (click to enlarge):

Points to ponder:

  1. Is there a difference in your mind between iPhoneography and Mobile Art?
  2. How do you define them?
  3. Does it matter if the two forms are mixed together in exhibits/contests?

I look forward to your feedback on this topic.

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  19 comments for “Izzit Art?

  1. February 17, 2015 at 10:45 AM

    I guess there is a difference between adding objects and enhancing with color and light and dark and such. But I like them both and done well I think both can be considered very artistic. But that’s just me. I’m no photographer. Nice job good post.


    • February 17, 2015 at 4:39 PM

      Thanks, Gemma. It is a fine line that some people adhere to and others cross with impunity. Who among us is to say what is right/wrong?

      On another note: How is the post-op coming on your right wrist?


      • February 17, 2015 at 6:23 PM

        I am tangling again, though the Zen has gone by the way side and has been replaced by something wiggly and wacky. I go to the doc to remove the dressing tomorrow. Feeling pretty decent, actually. Thank you for asking, Allan.


  2. February 16, 2015 at 5:07 PM

    I really had to re-read the two definitions you gave, and I get the difference now. In both, one is creating art; the vision the photographer sees, and isn’t that what art is? Creating our vision. Because we don’t use paint brushes, pencils, and canvases does not mean that we are not making art.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 17, 2015 at 8:00 AM

      I guess that part of the controversy over the difference between Mobile Art and iPhoneography is that in MA the creator/photographer is more dependent on using another person’s creation (the app) to add a pre-selected “look” to their image.

      My second image reflects my choice of their effect on my photo. Granted, I selected the photo and which D3lta app to apply to it, so that can be considered an act of creating art.

      I guess it comes down to splitting hairs: If a photo is taken with a mobile device and edited only on a mobile device, then it is Mobile Art.

      Here is a thought: Is an image taken with, and edited on, an iPad qualified to be in the category of iPhoneography?

      More hairs to split!

      Liked by 2 people

      • February 20, 2015 at 10:22 AM

        Mobile photography and iPhoneography share one common thing, they are iOS images and since iPhone/iPad are iOS devices, it does not make a difference, besides iPhone have also become larger.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. February 16, 2015 at 5:59 AM

    If an artist isn’t bound by such rules when putting images on a canvas or paper, then why should a photographer be bound to do or not do what the technology makes available. It is all about sharing your vision, your personal perception of the world (and its contents) with others. Enhancing your images is just part of the process. Hope you enjoy the day, Allan, WG

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 16, 2015 at 7:43 AM

      Thanks for checking in with us and sharing your views. I found that once I let go of trying to define the process, I was able to participate in it.


      • February 16, 2015 at 11:52 AM

        😉 Some find that we define by the nature of our participation. You’ve hit a ‘hot button’ topic with me here, Allan. Art is what it is, and I bristle whenever someone tries to limit it with a particular definition. I went through this recently when organizing an art show, when some of the other planners wanted to leave certain exhibitors out based on their definitions of what is or isn’t worthy of being called ‘art.’ Thank you for hosting the conversation 😉 WG

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 16, 2015 at 4:30 PM

        I wonder if this conversation took place when when water colors and oil paints were both slated to be exhibited together for the first time?

        Thanks for adding your experience to the ongoing dialogue.


      • February 16, 2015 at 4:42 PM

        Great question! I remember when the conversation happened in the early 60s over new styles of painting and sculpture…. and whether or not they belonged in the established art museums. Art is subjective, and is better defined by how it affects the viewer, rather than how it is produced (in my opinion, at least.) The point you make is interesting, as my dad is a watercolorist-


      • February 16, 2015 at 4:53 PM

        I have a friend who is a VFX artist in Hollywood and the things that he can do with a stylus and a computer are incredible. His work in traditional media is also outstanding, so I think that it doesn’t matter—Art is Art.

        Liked by 1 person

    • February 20, 2015 at 10:29 AM

      I personally agree but unfortunately the mobile/iPhoneography purists require one to use only the tools available on an iOS device. Yet while I agree with them in part, post process software developers have yet to catch up with those who create camera applications and provide tools for the professional mobile photographer. So in the meantime I do not follow the purists rule because I require the best tools for my mobile images.

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 21, 2015 at 7:22 AM

        Ahh, the Purists…

        Another fine line: Editing only on a mobile device/using a hybrid method with a desktop computer. I must confess that at my age the 27-inch screen of my iMac is much easier to work on than the one on my iPad Air. Unfortunately, as you have stated, some editing apps are only available on mobile devices.


  4. February 16, 2015 at 5:14 AM

    I’ve never separated the two concepts. To me iPhoneography is part of Mobile Photography. Mobile photography includes non-SLR digital devices such as iPads and iPods. To me, they are one and the same. I’ve never excluded one from the other because of the processing aspect. I’ve always viewed it as post processing–the digital darkroom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 16, 2015 at 7:40 AM

      Thanks for your comment, Sally. Perhaps iPhoneography, as a new medium, incorporates the post-processing “illustrative” aspect of Mobile Art.

      We can call a chair a “rose” and still sit in it, so does a label really matter in this instance?

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 16, 2015 at 8:10 AM

        Absolutely not…that is part of the point. It’s about photography and the creative process.


    • February 20, 2015 at 10:42 AM

      I think what Allan left out in our discussion that day was one is photography and the other multi-medium. When a mobile image has been post edited and no longer has the representation of the original source, it then becomes multi-medium. Minor edits and some applications of adding iOS filters will not make it multi-medium. Excessive post process with filter applications makes it more mobile photography and when other multiple items are introduced to the original image and app’ed, it then is multi-medium art..


      • February 21, 2015 at 7:29 AM

        Thank you for joining the discussion and for clearing that up for us, Egmont. I guess that the
        iPhoneography/Mobile Art difference only matters when it comes to contests and exhibitions, and even then it is subject to interpretation by the people in charge.

        In the meantime, I plan to continue taking photos and editing as the the inspiration strikes me. I will leave the classification to others.


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