Wednesday, 27 June 2012

I have a camera


Last week in Bournemouth was an unusual conference from a personal, photographic perspective: given the amount of extra social media work our team was doing, I wasn’t slated for any work snapping.

That, of course, had one massive advantage: it meant that my bags were lighter, as I decided to do without an DSLR for the trip.

But it still managed to be an interesting week photographically.

First, because it offered the first official uses of a couple of pictures I’d taken properly: one was a portrait of Neville Lawrence (see below), which was ripped off in 10 seconds at best, with a crush forming around.


I like to think I captured a sense of the quiet dignity of the man.

The second was of Eleanor Smith, the UNISON president for the last year, whose term ended at the close of conference.

For that, I’d had far more time than I’m used to getting, and was fairly chuffed with the result.


When I'd originally processed it on my super duper screen at work, one colleague, walking past, had glanced and assumed that it was Michelle Obama, demanding to know how come I'd got a picture of her!


I'm very happy with the glamour of the shot – but it's not 'weak' glamour, so to speak. Eleanor is a woman who makes everything she wears look like Chanel (yet she's a grandmother, for goodness sake!) but it combines glamour and strength. There's nothing passive or submissive about this shot.


I'm really proud of it.


But away from any such ‘official’ photography I was left, for the week, with my iPhone.

As usual, I was photographing my food – I posted one result earlier this week). But there are always other things that are worth snapping too, especially when you’re away.

As I mentioned not long ago, I’ve noticed that I’ve become rather fond of photographing flowers, although it never started out as a deliberate thing – and indeed, it’s not any sort of a ‘project’ even now.

Using the iPhone with an eye on something more than a snapshot for memory’s sake is an interesting challenge.

On the one hand, the most obvious advantage is its very size and portability. I was never without it, so I was never without a camera.

On the other hand, while the inbuilt camera is remarkably good (I’m still on the third generation, having refused to upgrade because the camera is decent) there is no adjustable zoom or lighting or anything else.

If you have good light, then it can produce remarkably good pictures.

Picture framing can be a tad awkward – certainly if you’re pointing it in a direction where you’re not actually looking into the screen – meaning that ‘straight on’ doesn’t always work as you want it to.


But all in all, it’s not impossible to get interesting results with a phone camera.


There are really big questions that phone cameras raise. Indeed, I'd go further than that and say that modern communications technology as a whole has massive ramifications for society as a whole – see Leveson, for a start.


The British media, as a whole, is trying to work out what it can provide/sell to the consumer – that's us. Increasingly, it's sensation and gossip.


And local stories that, in all honesty, would not have got even near a national daily only a few years ago.


But that's the world we live in. And 'citizen journalism' is an offshoot. With real journalists either dumped or made to turn a few tweets into a story, we might come to regret that. But that's the way it is, at present, in the UK at least.


But setting that aside, there are things that you can do with a mobile phone – and they don't always have to be  snapshots for the sake of memory.


They're not works of art, but I include a couple of last week's examples for your delectation and delight. As a slight technical note – the flower photographs (taken on my phone) have had very little done with them).




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