At an evening class in Geneva Cédric Tineo teaches photography with a difference – there isn’t a camera in the room.
The students are carrying the only tool they need: their smartphones.
While camera phones do have some inherent weaknesses, they also have a lot of advantages, says Cédric. It’s all about knowing how to make the most of them, he adds.
“Today, the quality of photos you can take with high end smartphones is breathtaking, if the lighting is good, but also if it’s bad. And that’s what has given rise to this phenomenon, smartphone photography,” he says.
How to compose a picture, make use of the lighting, set up your background – the advice is the same as for a normal photography class, but with an added dimension.
“Smartphones take photography into a whole new world,” says Cédric Tineo. “With a smartphone, you not only have a camera that allows you to capture reality, but you can also add effects. You used to need a computer to do that. It allows you to add style, create an atmosphere in order to tell your story. With just a few clicks on your screen, you can share these photos instantly with hundreds of people.”
It’s a fast-growing trend, thanks to online photo-sharing networks. Instagram’s 150 million users upload around 50 million photos each day.
Julien Damoiseau is one of them. He says mobile phones give users a freedom of movement which other cameras don’t. They are easy to handle and they are discreet.
And it’s easy to find out whether your pictures are any good – internet provides the perfect popularity test:
“There are more and more people who use their smartphones and it’s like a revelation for them, they discover that they have a certain artistic talent. Thanks to social media, depending on how many “likes” you get, you’ll find out whether people like your photo, and whether you have a particular style,” says Julien.
Behind each phone is a potential photographer. It’s a market waiting to grow. So Julien has set up a little company selling everything an aspiring smartphone photographer might need.
Pierre Le Govic’s father and grandfather were printers. He grew up in a world of images. Today, he is an avid smartphone photographer.
“I started using Instagram in 2011. I found it fascinating, this abundant exchange of creativity with people from all over the world, and I thought, there’s hidden talent out there that deserves to be put forward,” says Pierre.
So he set up the first smartphone photo publishing house.
“Today, there is a saturation of images, through social network platforms, the internet, mobile phones,” he says. “Some of the most beautiful pictures get lost in this profusion, each image is replaced by another, second after second, and I simply thought it would be a good idea to print the best ones.”
The advent of smartphone photography may annoy purists, but it seems nothing will stop the phenomenon. In 2011, a prestigious prize went to a New York Times photographer for his coverage of the conflict in Afghanistan using his mobile phone.