Shots from my Hip

Lately I have been pondering about what to think of the Hipstamatic – as a professional photographer that is. Your know that fun app that makes pictures taken with the iPhone look very retro, as if they were shot with one of those cheap and technically obsolete analogue cameras such as a Lomo, a Diana, a Holga or a Polaroid instant camera. I actually love the Hipstamatic look, the skewed colours, the chromatic aberration it emulates, the vignetting, the harsh contrasts and so on, the final look of course depending on the settings when applying the app. It’s real fun to use, and it makes the photos look great. It seems like anything can be taken with the Hipstamatic app and made into a cool or interesting photo. The question I have been pondering about then is whether these are actually my pictures. Can I really claim any honour, so to speak – as a photographer and thus, can I use the Hipstamatic look as one of many tools when I decide which style I want for a given photograph, I mean when I am the «serious photographer» and not just out there having fun? The dilemma is that I feel I have no influence about the look, well, that is of course not quite true since you have a lot of variables you can tweak, but it’s still a much automated process. Point being, isn’t it still more the app than the photographer him- or herself that makes the photos? Or maybe it’s just too easy to take cool pictures? Is that it?

When I get this far in my thought-process I have to stop myself. It makes me sound like any old, conservative, stock-in-the-past, everything-was-much-better-before craftsman of a photographer, who complains about any development in the trade. Because that’s really been photography’s sword of Damocles throughout the whole history of the craft. Every new development has raised grumbles from those who knew the old way – and thus knew better, all the way back to when photography came into being. Back then is was actually painters who complained about photography, that it would destroy the painting as a craft. In modern times it was PhotoShop that destroyed the old printing craft, or the advanced digital technology that made it possible for everybody to become a photographer without knowing anything at all, or nowadays when every amateur can make his or her own video. Where will this end? It will bring the craft down and out forever. And now we even got the Hipstamatic app! Of course all those grumpy, old men (because it’s mostly been grumpy, old men) are wrong and have always been. The development of the craft has never taken away the artistic skills needed for making interesting expressions. It’s true, it’s never been as easy as today to photograph, but still it’s just as hard to make photos that speak to the viewer, that give you that deep understand of life, that bring pictures into life. And so it is with the Hipstamatic app, I must believe. Right now it’s the cool thing, that everybody wants to use, that makes every photo look interesting. But of course to make photographs that breathe and will last, you still need to bring a vision and a personal investment into the making of the pictures. It isn’t too easy, not even when using the Hipstamatic app.

Still I haven’t convinced myself completely about this even though the argument sounds like the politically right thing to say. But I don’t want to be or become and old, grumpy man, so what the heck, I am going to stop pondering about the dilemma. I am just gonna go out there and have some fun when shooting – using the Hipstamatic app.

Other blogs with fun postings about Hipstamatic:
Comforting Photograph for Tea Lovers

Hipstamatic Snail
Instagram and Hipstamatic
You gotta walk that lonesome valley, and you gotta walk, walk it by yourselfHipstamatic Week 42

3 thoughts on “Shots from my Hip

  1. I have mixed feelings too, but photography didn’t diminish the art of painting as people feared. And even if photographers use PhotoShop or the Hipstamatic app, what they choose to photograph and how they tweak it demonstrates their individual style.

    Thirty plus years ago, Ansel Adam used the Zone System and as a way to tweak his photos. Similarly, current photographers are just using PhotoShop and the Hipstamatic app to tweak theirs.

    By the way, I’m an ’older’ photographer who was taught to use the Zone System as a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print. I’m currently trying to catch up with all of the new digital technology. And, you’re right, it’s not easy!

    1. A good point; photographers have always tried to tweak their photos. Just because it’s much easier with apps like Hipstamatic compared to the good, old Zone System (yes I have used that myself, too, back in those analogue days), it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s less “justifiable”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s