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Grab a seat. Let’s chat. 

Recently, BP tweeted an article  written by Joshua Dunlop about how Hipstamatic, Instagram and filters were ruining photography. While I agreed with the majority of the statements  made, it got me thinking about why I write what I do for Juxt. I thought I would take the first school house of 2013 to talk about why I feel strongly about composition and why I think it is important if mobile photography is going to be taken seriously by the art world. We all want to take better photos right? Better photos start with strong compositions. Strong composition comes from knowing how to shoot a scene dynamically. Whether that means using the rule of thirds, utilizing dramatic light, or taking advantage of texture they all lead to stronger compositions. Make no mistake, filters can’t hide poor placement, lighting, or slanted picture planes, we know that, yet sometimes we try anyway. Our goal in the one screen school house is to make the original photo as strong as it can be and only relying on editing for fine tuning.

Do I think that sharing platforms are killing photography? No. If it is doing anything, it is bringing art to the masses and making it more accessible. Now granted much of the time the masses are a tad lazy when it comes to traditional photography methods and I can see why that would rub some artists the wrong way. But those that are lazy wouldn’t necessarily say they are photographers. In my mind, there are a few different sets of people sharing photographs across social platforms. There are those that use actual cameras and smart phones to capture photographs in a meaningful way and with intent and those that use cameras and smart phones without intent. The ones in the latter category are sharing to share, not to hone their craft and can be removed from the argument altogether. Then it comes down to traditional camera users and those that shoot mobile and the ever present argument of whether smart phone users can be photographers. In the traditional sense of photography, no I don’t think we can. But then in the traditional sense,  digital cameras cannot be placed in that category either. That is the beauty of art, you see. It is always changing, expanding, and folding back on itself. That’s what makes it so interesting. Art is always redefining it’s borders. We are all innately creative whether it be painting, photography, or pottery. We all have a niche somewhere in the vast world of art and there is more than enough room for all of us. Why would any one want to put a cap on creativity? To say, yes you can create because I am comfortable with your medium but no, you over there, you can’t because I don’t approve of the size brush you are using. What sense does that make?  Creativity is creativity is creativity. Mobile photography is new, a baby even, in the art world and yes we are still finding our footing but that doesn’t make us any less creative or our craft any less sound.

But. I digress. It happens. I don’t sleep much these days.

Back to the masses I spoke about earlier.

There are plenty of people using smart phones to document their lives in a meaningful way that have never gone to art school or cracked a photography book. But they love it and guess what? They are good at it. They have what you would call “an eye” for photography. The school house enables them to have the language to speak about their art and other’s work in a way they couldn’t before. When they are out shooting they can recognize leading lines or negative space  and utilize those within their photograph. They are creating relevant, dynamic work and can use what they have learned to improve upon their craft even more.

More than anything, I want to arm this beautiful body of artists with the tools and the language to speak about and be confident in their work.

In 2013, I want to see more mobile shows and I want to hear more people say “oh wow, you took that on your phone?” I want us to take pride in our craft and grow it.

That’s not too much to ask, is it?

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Anna Cox