I wanted this week’s post to be a one of my phone photographs. Yesterday I held a photography workshop with a group of teenage students. I presented my work to them, but really wanted to make the point that they could do this too. They didn’t need to have a big fancy camera and that the important part was that they were taking photographs of the things that interested them.
I have been taking camera phone photographs since the 1st of January 2003. I contacted Vodafone the month before, when I heard that the first mobile phone with inbuilt camera, had been released in the UK. I knew I had to get my hands on one, and I approached Vodafone, with the idea of taking a photo each day for the whole of 2003. The finished project was exhibited in London in 2004 called iCapture.
Looking back, I can see now that it wasn’t a great piece of work. It was a visual diary and I was the subject. I hadn’t given enough thought to using myself as the subject for my own photography, and was uncomfortable at revealing and documenting my own life. I was never able to truly embrace the role. I have learned that I am happier to point my camera at those who are more interesting. I always appreciate and admire those people who I photograph, that can be so open and allow me to reveal a little of who they are.
Through the discipline of taking a photo each day on my phone I learned that we have a very different attachment and relationship to our phones than we do to a camera. This became the subject of my dissertation when I was doing an MA at Newport.
I still love taking photos with my phone. My phone gives me a feeling of connection to my friends and family. At times it feels like an extension of my brain. I see something. I record it. Save it. Send it. Share it. I am not saying I love my phone more than my camera oh no! My camera takes me places I cannot get to with a camera phone. The photos I take on my phone are more snap shots, but I consciously feel like I am capturing and recording a memory, that can them be shared. The photographs I make with my camera however are solely for me to satisfy my vision and ideas. It is much more selfish and solitary.
One of the points I wanted to make to the students this week is that photography now, in this digital age is all about sharing our images, sometimes instantaneously, and potentialy across the globe. When I first started taking photographs, it was all about the taking of the photograph. For them now, starting out learning to take photos, there are less obstacles to navigate to achieve an acceptable image.
To the picture… I call this photo ‘Paris Train’ after the Beth Orton track that I absolutely love. It was indeed take on a train on it’s way to Paris Nord. I like the way the seat is facing one way and the man’s profile the other. It is just a snap shot from a lovely trip that it will always remind me of, while Beth’s lyrics go round in my head.