“This books passes muster as a great instructional tool for the novice mobile artist – A Classic”, Joanne Carter, 2016
Recently in a cafe I was hungrily perusing ‘Art with an iPhone – A Photographer’s Guide to Creating Altered Realities’ by American Fine Art Photographer, Writer and Instructor, Kat Sloma, when a woman I knew touched me on the shoulder and asked what I was reading. I considered this question as I glanced up and around at all the other customers in the cafe and noticed that most of them were engrossed with their iPhones, possibly (hopefully) apping images. ‘It’s a book about creating art with an iPhone’, I replied. She looked surprised and then asked if she could join me. This then became the perfect way to review this book. I explained that ‘Art with an iPhone’ is a great learning platform for newcomers to this wonderful artform to develop their skills, my friend became hooked and is now a great new mobile artist!
Sloma explains, “That’s not photography,” the long-time photographer commented to me, “I don’t know what it is, but it’s not photography…
A few years ago, as I started to transition to my iPhone camera and apps to create images, I got that a lot. It was a bit confusing, truth be told. I knew my images did not always end up looking like what most people expected a photograph to look like, but how could it not be photography? I was still using a camera; still using all of the skills I had learned over the years to see and frame and expose images. I just took them a little further in post-processing than I used to. I didn’t try to portray reality any more.
I went through a bit of an identity crisis after hearing enough of those comments. If it’s not photography, then what is it? If I’m not a photographer, then who am I? I loved what I was doing, and I wrestled with this question for a while, coming to a simple conclusion that took me back to where I started. Yes, I am a photographer, because what I do starts with an image captured with a camera. The starting image is crucial to my creative process. Without it, my art doesn’t exist.
I now call what I do “altered photography” because I want to signal that it’s not what people typically expect photography to look like, but I also want the people who see my work to know it started as photograph. I am proud of my art form, and the wonderful history of this fantastic medium. I believe what I (and so many others!) are doing with photographic images on mobile devices is one more step in the evolution of the photograph. We are, one image at a time, expanding the definition of photography.
But right now we are in a time of transition. Not everyone is on board with this point of view. If you ask other photographers, yourself even, “Is it photography or not?” I would expect to hear wildly different reactions”.