Hurricane Sandy, and its aftermath, garnered a lot of attention this week (rightly so), but one iconic image of the storm was captured on an iPhone by photojournalist Ben Lowy using the app Hipstamatic to give it a gritty, foreboding feel.
The image of Sandy crashing in, raising seas that give mariners nightmares, graces the cover of Time this week. It’s a powerful, powerful image, one that, I think, captures the raw power of the storm. This isn’t the first time an iPhone (or Hipstamatic) has been used by professionals in photojournalism. Damon Winter did an entire piece for the New York Times with it, and have others for Foreign Policy, and Ben Lowy isn’t a newcomer to getting professional results from a small tool (from Libya).
Leading up to the the storm, Sarah Lacy of Pando Daily wondered “Could Sandy be Instagram’s big citizen journalism moment?“, and it might have been because during the storm this came in from Instagram’s CEO:
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom tells us via a spokeswoman: “There are now 10 pictures per second being posted with the hashtag #sandy — most are images of people prepping for the storm and images of scenes outdoors.” (Via Poynter.org)
So what is it about iPhones (and other smart phones), that make them now such an integral part of photojournalism?
Because we have them with us all the time and they are easy and fun to use.
Although I have a DSLR and a couple point-n-shoots, it’s my iPhone (now, thankfully, an iPhone 5) that I do most of my photography with. I don’t often use Hipstamatic (I have it, of course) or other filter tools, but … I love to play with them when I have a moment. Why do I use my iPhone? Because I always have it. It’s right there in my pocket to take a quick shot.
And if you look at the data from Flickr you’ll see that iPhones dominate photo uploads and dominate smartphone uploads as well:
So keep shooting, keep practicing (I’ve been taking pictures for almost 35 years now), and maybe you’ll grace the cover of Time!