Brendan Iwashko-Reading Response #3: Picture This: The Impact of Mobile Camera Phones on Personal Photographic Practices

Lisa Gye’s article Picture This: The Impact of Mobile Camera Phones on Personal Photographic Practices explains how the emergence of mobile phone cameras have impacted personal photography, socially, through self-expression/presentation, in memorializing moments, and more.

She begins by relaying some history, starting with the emergence of the Kodak and how it shifted the perceptions of photography from capturing reality to storing memories. She discusses photography’s social implications, and how important it has become in sharing and especially “face-to-face photosharing.”

After giving a quick rundown of the history of photography and the emergence of mobile photography, Gye begins to discuss specifically the different uses, aspects, and the overall evolution of the camera phone. It is important to note that this article was written in 2007, so towards the beginning of the social media era. Gye differentiates between the effective and the functional, and discusses early forms of photosharing, such as Nokia’s Lifeblog®. The following picture illustrates the early use of camera phones in a comedic way. It targets the first use of mobile phones for self-presentation, specifically the early “selfie.” Gye differentiates between self-presentation and self-expression, and this image illustrates the former, “reflect[ing] the view of ourselves that we want to project out into the world.”

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One piece of the article I found interesting, and even a bit antiquated, was the fact that Okabe & Ito, quoted in Gye’s article, labeled the images taken on a camera phone to be more “fleeting” than those taken on a camera, and labeled the camera as “used for more personal” purposes, and for mainly “sharing among intimates.” With the huge evolution of the camera phone in the last eight years it has become anything but that. I use my camera phone more and more often for “serious” photography, and share images and videos taken on my phone completely publicly (via social media apps like Instagram) much more often than I do images and videos taken with a “real” camera. This article also relates to my life in the idea of documenting everything. I feel that as I am exposed to more and more technology, I get into the habit of documenting everything I see around me in one way or another, and this is something I am trying to decrease in my personal life.

This article relates very closely to what we have been learning in class. First off, we have been creating all of our production assignments with an iPad, which has essentially the same usability as a camera phone. Also, the article discusses the spatial aspect of technology, important in our locational media projects and frequently discussed in class. The article specifically highlights the way that photos and photosharing on mobile phones decreases perceived space, creating “millions of people coming together in zero space.” The article also discusses the increasing presence and immediacy in technology, something we have discussed in class especially when talking about the evolution from radio and newspaper to television and later to the internet.