Emergence of Mobile Photography: Columbus
THE EMERGENCE of MOBILE PHOTOGRAPHY : COLUMBUS, OHIO by Nicholas Carron
Instagram turned two years old on July 17, 2012. Did mobile photographers all over the world celebrate in the streets, or did the milestone merely come and go with a thud? There’s no doubt that a complicated dynamic exists between artists who aspire to elevate the medium and the popular photo sharing app that has connected to many people. It’s as if an element of codependence stirs around a fear that mobile photography will forever be defined as “a fun & quirky way to share your life through photos”.
Why worry? The fact that the digital world is fluid ensures that opinions will continue to vary on how to approach and promote mobile photography whether Instagram remains influential or startups like Starmatic make waves. What has consistently been fascinating is how the medium fosters an artistic, communal bond in cities all over the world like Seattle, San Francisco/Oakland, Barcelona, Melbourne and even my hometown Columbus, Ohio.
Columbus has shown it has the community, creativity and vested interest to bring mobile photography to light by exploring ways to educate, engage and entertain a greater audience. A contingent of talented individuals have advanced it’s presence by utilizing a variety of digital platforms, organizing get-togethers, presenting in public spaces and collaborating with representatives in the art community.
Following a series of successful gatherings spearheaded by Lizzie Koselke (IG @drops_ofJupiter), a group of mobile photographers who primarily met through the Columbus Instagram community, began to formulate ways to collectively showcase work offline. With expectations set to simply collaborate and enjoy an array of diverse presentations, themes and styles, the InstaColumbusGallery event came to fruition on May 19, 2012.
The InstaColumbusGallery show, May 19, 2012. Photo by Dave Uy.
“Being an artist, I’d been wanting to show my art in a gallery for sometime now,” summarized Dave Uy (IG @chimchimChewy), who hosted the show at Zyme by Design, a custom art and design business that specializes in translating mobile photography into canvas prints. “So when the IGers Columbus (IG @igersColumbus) group started talking about doing a gallery show, I jumped on the idea!”
Perhaps exposure in the Columbus Dispatch prior to the event helped to attract nearly 200 visitors, but it’s certain that the endeavor raised awareness and opened doors for it’s participants as well as attendees.
“It (the show) made me to want to be a part of the local scene of mobile photographers that I wouldn’t have known any other way,” remarked Graham Weiss (IG @38ssiew), who moved to Columbus from California 6 years ago.
In order to understand how mobile photography can prosper in the Columbus art scene, it’s important to recognize the talent that’s pushed the medium’s capabilities all along. Amy Leibrand (IG @_thisspace_), who purchased the iPhone 3Gs in April 2010, has consistently been recognized for her surreal, highly imaginative approach to mobile photography.
“My work is a digested reality,” Amy explained in an EyeEm Spotlight interview published in February 2011. ”I am a daydreamer and I prefer my images to reflect that.”
Amy, who is highly involved with organizations like the Ohio Art League and Cap City Creatives, has been featured in lys foto magazine, iPhoneogenic, i comme Photo, and Funeral Parade Magazine and regularly participates in local as well as remote juried exhibitions including iPhoneography: Updated Visual Dialogues last Spring in Miami, Florida.
“Found something; can’t reach it” by Amy Leibrand was featured at the CS Gallery Photography Exhibition, June 30, 2012.
Shortly after participating in the InstaColumbusGallery show, Gwenn Danae (IG @UponADayDreamer) opened a profile on EyeEm, “a photo-sharing and discovery app” that appeals especially to artists. It did not take long for EyeEm’s contributors to notice her “dreamlike, surreal and atmospheric images” and detail her process on the EyeEmSpotlight blog. Gwenn intricately spelled out how to create “dreamscape” quality compositions by combining the capabilities of Timer app, Water my photo, Lenslight, Snapseed, Photoforge2 and Camera+.
“I’ve been dragging my feet as of late. Time to shake it off and just do it” by Gwenn Danae was detailed in an EyeEmSpotlight blog feature.
After a year of documenting various personal, social and economic themes associated with a blighted community in south Columbus, I introduced my Urban Curse (IG @UrbanCurse) project for the first time at the InstaColumbusGallery show. I also introduced an Urban Curse book and made it available for sale on Blurb with proceeds benefitting the children on the city’s south side. The project was featured on the EyeEmSpotlight blog, Instagramers.com and is currently being shown in public venues around the city.
Hard cover, soft cover and eBook versions of my Urban Curse book are for sale on Blurb.com with proceeds benefiting kids living on the south side of Columbus.
The advantage of showcasing mobile photography in public venues is it helps to promote the medium as well as enlighten the untrained eye. CS Gallery, a venue known to take chances on experimental and inventive approaches to artistic representation, recently concluded a series of shows that Amy Leibrand and I participated in with favorable support and response.
The CS Gallery Photography Exhibition artist reception, June 30, 2012
My Urban Curse installment was on display at the CS Gallery Photography Exhibition, June 30, 2012
Columbus-based photographer Chad Cochran (@cowtownChad), who is currently showing his DSDSLR photography in a gallery just outside of Columbus, foresees being able to show his mobile work at the same venue in the near future.
“Although I feel the mobile photography format is still relatively unknown, mobile shots could be ideal,” explained Chad, who specializes in capturing emotive scenes throughout rural America. “The silver lining of mobile photography is the smaller picture size allows you to provide a product that may also meet a specific price point that larger DSLR photos may not.”
“Poverty, Rural Ohio” by Chad Cochran was featured in the Ohio Historical Society’s #Controversy2 initiative.
Columbus publications, organizations and museums have also begun to implement mobile photography into their communication platforms and strategies. By utilizing Instagram and Twitter, the Ohio Historical Society (#Controversy2), 614 Magazine (#asSeenInColumbus) and the Columbus Museum of Art (#CMAPhotohunt) have incorporated thematic tags into their content as a way to further engage and inspire their followers.
“Mobile photography has opened up possibilities like never before, and is yet another way for people to express their creativity,” summarized Jennifer Poleon (IG @columbusmuseum), Digital Communications Manager Columbus Museum of Art. “It doesn’t end with the shutter snap when you click that button. That’s just the beginning. The Radical Camera and the CMA Photo Hunts are about making people feel inspired and a part of something. Not only have we shared stories with people, but people have shared stories with us through their submissions. It has created a much deeper connection.”
It’s a deeper connection that’s becoming more and more evident because an invariable passion exists between the mobile photographer and his or her artistic vision.
“I enormously enjoy tinkering with the process and look forward to developing my style and interacting with other iPhoneographers,” explained Amy Leibrand. “Discovering new techniques and honing my skills – there is so much to learn. I have very few expectations of where this journey could lead and will continue to appreciate as it unfolds organically.”
“THINK” by Tim Courlas (IG @durtball) was chosen as part of the Columbus Museum of Art’s #CMAPhotohunt theme #SignOfTheTimes.
*Editors Note: The EXPOSURE Exhibit begins on March 16, 2013.