Mobile Phone Photography

The dark side of photo club photography

There is one oth­er top­ic I want to cov­er more on this chan­nel this year, and that is mobile phone photography.

Pho­to by Amir Han­na on Unsplash

Being a mem­ber of two local pho­to­graph­ic clubs, I have a good overview of what kind of peo­ple are engaged in pho­tog­ra­phy clubs. And I can tell you one thing: it is not the mobile phone pho­tog­ra­ph­er. Some peo­ple would even go that far to tell you that tak­ing images with a mobile phone is not ‘real’ pho­tog­ra­phy and there­fore does not belong in a pho­to­graph­ic club.

Photo Club membership is in decline

Let me take a lit­tle detour here. I think that pho­to clubs face a lot of adverse effects in the year 2023. We have seen some clubs not being able to sur­vive, they just did­n’t have enough peo­ple to do the work that is nec­es­sary to run even the small­est clubs. It would be inter­est­ing to see if that is a gen­er­al soci­ety thing, or more a thing for pho­to­graph­ic clubs. But even the nation­al asso­ci­a­tion here in New Zealand for ama­teur pho­tog­ra­phy (PSNZ – Pho­to­graph­ic Soci­ety of New Zealand) has prob­lems fill­ing the roles to run the soci­ety smooth­ly. Now what has that to do with mobile phonephotography?

How do we cater for mobile phone photographers?

I think that we do not have a prob­lem with small num­bers of pho­tog­ra­phers, we have a prob­lem that we just do not care for a big por­tion of them: mobile phone pho­tog­ra­phers. Every­one who has a phone that is at least a lit­tle bit ‘smart’ can take pic­tures with it and is there­fore a poten­tial can­di­date for div­ing deep­er into pho­tog­ra­phy, giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty and edu­ca­tion. But the pho­to clubs do not pick them up where they come from. A lot of young peo­ple step into the world of pho­tog­ra­phy with their smart phones, tak­ing images of their life and post them on social media. But where do they go if they want to get bet­ter at tak­ing the images and do post-pro­cess­ing? When you look at the aver­age age of the pho­to club mem­bers, you see where one of the prob­lems is. We need more younger peo­ple in the clubs, it is a rare occur­rence for some­one in their 20s or even younger to turn up to the meet­ings. It just does­n’t seem to be attrac­tive for them to talk about pho­tog­ra­phy with most­ly old­er peo­ple, and the month­ly pro­gram does not rec­og­nize mobile phone pho­tog­ra­phy at all. In the last five years I have not seen one sin­gle talk or com­pe­ti­tion or work­shop or any­thing that would cater specif­i­cal­ly for mobile phone pho­tog­ra­phers. I think that is a big oppor­tu­ni­ty missed.

I will try to dig a bit deep­er into that top­ic this year, maybe we can do some­thing about it.

What can we do?

What do you think, do we need dif­fer­ent pho­to clubs to cater for mobile phone pho­tog­ra­phers, do we need to change the pro­gram? Do we need to get off the high hors­es to open the eyes and wel­come this dif­fer­ent kind of pho­tog­ra­phy, that is actu­al­ly not that dif­fer­ent from pho­tog­ra­phy with ded­i­cat­ed cameras? 

Put your com­ments below, I’m curi­ous to see what your thoughts are. 

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