This is a guest review by photographer Paul M. Bowers.
There are a many reasons you should buy Create Great iPhone Photos by Allan Hoffman, but only one can be the Number One.
I’ve been a commercial photographer for about 30 years, brung up in the briar patch of large-format transparency photography. You’ve seen my studios similar to mine in movies and TV- hardwood floors, industrial building, big windows and people running around everywhere. And then there was the darkroom, brimming with hazardous chemicals in which we splashed and played. But I’ve always had an affinity for small-form factor cameras, beginning with the Canon AF35M (the first real point-and-shoot) and the famous Olympus XA. I’ve carried these small cameras around the world, and have created some of my favorite images on these. My latest site, JustTheCoolStuff.com is based entirely on small form factor cameras and the iPhone.
Then I got an iPhone [cue chorale] . It became immediately obvious the power this small camera has, especially when combined with the large number of apps available for post (or pre) production. Controls and effects photographers used to drink, drug and teeth-gnash to perfect are available in real-time and in very controllable (and uncontrollable) ways.
Hoffman has created a book that has exactly what one would want to know about iPhone photography. He has all the salient applications and instructions on how to properly use each one. Screen shots of tools and results are well-presented and comprehensive. His images are interesting and amusing, and well-represent the endless possibilities offered by the iPhone camera.
But wait, there’s more. Hoffman goes further to help us share our images with the world via his chapter called Snap- and Share, which explains many of the options iPhonetographers have available right from their device. He also explains backup and archiving of the digital images.
But more important to me, and the Number One reason to buy this book, is Hoffman “gets it” when it comes to the power of the hand-carried image capture device. All the techniques, the post-production the sharing and the photoblogging are useless unless you have a camera in your hand. The advent of the iPhone (and other devices) as an image capture device is a revolution in photography on par with the Brownie camera. Prior to the introduction of the Brownie, photography was done by trained professionals with lots of gear and tremendous technical baggage. The Brownie allowed families to begin documenting special occasions easily.
With the Brownie, we began to see photographic storytelling- something only previously seen in the works of Matthew Brady-type professionals. Plenty of kids and family photography- first communions, family vacations, weddings and homecomings entered into our history. These were still fairly difficult processes, buying the camera and film, properly exposing it, getting it to and from the developer and with frequent failures could be such a pain, the camera was left unused except for special occasions. Polaroid and its instant gratification helped, but was terribly expensive.
Subsequent steps made cameras simpler and more reliable, and when digital came to the point-and-shoot (almost before the pro world) the bar to predictable and consistent results was lowered.
But iPhonetography is an entirely new level of image creation, primarily fueled by the device being one’s constant companion. Anywhere, and anytime is a good time to take pictures, and with the instant feedback and transmission (sharing) photography has reached an entirely new level.
Hoffman understands and helps the reader harness the true power of the iPhone medium, which does not lie in it’s apps and controls.
For Ask Dave Taylor, I’m Paul M Bowers.