(Tom Alexander/MJ)
(Tom Alexander/MJ)


In this digital age, the face of photography has been drastically changed for the better with the transition from 35mm film cameras to 18 megapixel beasts like the Canon 1DX that have the ability to take 11 frames per second. But the best (and also possibly the worst) development in the digital photo arsenal is the camera app.

Applications for your iPhone and Android phone do it all: exposes, captures and edits all with the touch of a button. Why the hell should I bother to lug my 20 pounds of camera gear with all the complicated settings and fancy buttons when I can just pull out my phone, snap the photo, apply a pre-loaded filter, and tweet it all in a few seconds? Cut. Print. It’s already published. White balance? Aperture? Toning? ISO? What the hell do those words mean? I have an iPhone, I must be a photographer right?

Don’t get me wrong; these photo apps do have merit. Hell, Damon Winter placed in the Pictures of the Year International contest with a photo he shot on the Hipstamatic app on his iPhone, good for him. There was an uproar in the community after that was allowed to happen, people were clamoring saying that letting a photo that was shot like that into the contest, let alone giving it a third place award, is a slippery slope and some even said that Instagram and iPhoneography is going to destroy photojournalism as we know it. Frankly, people were probably just mad because they didn’t think of it first.

Realistically it’s not these photo apps that are the problem, it’s the people that are using them, their mentality whilst using them, and how they’re being used. It’s people like me who do this photography thing as a profession that tremble at the thought that every idiot with an iPhone thinks they’re a photographer. I’ve literally been shoved out of the way while pointing my beast of a 300mm lens by a person with an iPhone out and when I protested and called them out they said “Hey, I’m a photographer too.” No sir, no you are not.

One day I might be browsing through Facebook and curse myself when I see some girl I went to high school with who owns a $400 digital SLR camera she bought from Best Buy and never bothered to buy another lens but the kit lens it came with post a photo and think: “man that’s actually a decent shot.” Sure it was taken with her iPhone and a vignette thrown on it in Instagram but I’ll be damned if that steak and potatoes doesn’t look good and I’ll throw it a “like.”

Now don’t take this as an “I am a super professional photographer and don’t use these apps because that would be really stupid” because that’s not what I’m saying. I have one; I’ve posted over 600 photos on the damn thing since I got my iPhone back in December. Instagram was one of the first apps I downloaded and I made my username the same thing as my professional website so I’m clearly not trying to hide my love for the damn thing.

My iPhone is my solution to everything when I’m on an assignment, I’d never turn in a photo I took of my half eaten hot dog I ate at half-time back in the media room to be published but I’ll be damned if I’m not gonna post that on Instagram and my Tumblr. It’s something about seeing that little notification saying “so and so liked your photo” that really gives my ego the super needed boost I need when I think all the photos I’ve taken that day are shit.

By all means, shoot blurry photos of you and your friends drinking PBR in your parents’ garage on a dirty old couch and slap on the 1970s filter all you want but I swear to you next time you shoulder bump me out of the way to try to photograph someone while saying “I’m a photographer too” don’t be surprised if I hit you over the head with my magnesium alloy, weather sealed, and super expensive camera gear.