Imagine : we, actually, travel around the Sun at 67,000 miles per hour. Life, at that speed, is fast. Everything melts into a supersonic blur of rich colours, ribbons of stars that dazzle in blinding flashes of incandescent light while Sasha and Emerson’s Scorchio plays on our smartphone. Samsung Galaxy, Sony Xperia, Apple iPhone 7.
Smartphones, photography, more specifically street photography and social media, have combined to become an all-embracing global life stream. So, what does this mean?
Richard ‘Koci’ Hernandez, Assistant Professor of New Media, UC Berkely Graduate School of Journalism, calls it Mobile Photography ( the art of street photography carried out on a smartphone). He also speaks about Social Photography. Essentially, images taken without any attempt at artistic endeavour to be shared with friends, family and acquaintances around social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al.
In a sense smartphones represent an acceleration of the photography art form in general, and street photography in particular. This, in turn, has become central to a huge output of images within the social media cosmos. An enormous cache of photographs that can be shot, uploaded onto Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Twitter et al and shared globally with millions, or potentially even billions of people, in seconds.
Late evening in Costa Coffee, February, the woman across the aisle, dirty blonde hair, oversized specs, smirks. Holds her iPhone 7 at a precise angle, clicks and shoots the lemon muffin and Latte she has just purchased. Within a few seconds she has posted it onto her Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram.
This is me at Costa wit Latte and lem muff
Yum! Yum! Almost instantaneously she receives a reply from Helen H.
Then Lucky dog! From Vicki with a happy face emoji.
Euphoria! Gina messages. So, it goes on.
An email arrives on my smartphone. Photographs from an iPhone 7 smartphone of the new Apple ‘Shot on iPhone 7’ campaign. The images are the work of the Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of streetphotography.Com. Johnny Mobasher. The new ‘Shot On iPhone 7’ – this year called ‘One Night’ is now circulating on billboards. It was shot across 15 cities on 6 continents by 16 different photographers.
Apple’s campaign, of course, is generated by the knowledge of this new order of photography and rapid improvement in the ability and functionality of cameras incorporated into smartphones. The company is also aware of the omnipotence of these tiny machines in all our lives. We constantly text, email, google, post photographs and message our existential journeys on the smartphone.
The surf of life’s ocean recalled instantly for infinity (potentially)!
I looked across to Lesley (I spoke with her and this is not her real name), now tucking into her muffin, then stared down at my smartphone and realised that we no longer live in a global village but, indeed, we all share a global house. Might even be compacted into a global living room?
With the world’s population climbing to 7.5 billion, the Ericsson mobility report of November 2016 estimated that by 2020 an incredible 6.1 billion smartphones would be in circulation, generating a market worth of $355 billion. https://www.ericsson.com/mobility-report
Infotrends also estimated that around 1.2 trillion (12 noughts) photographs will be shot in 2017. Up from 1.1 trillion in 2016, 1 trillion in 2015, 810 billion(2014) and 660 billion (2013). http://keypointintelligence.com
In 2015, data – also from Infotrends – revealed that 18.1 per cent of the 1 trillion photographs shot, were taken on digital cameras (less than one in five). This contrasts with a mammoth 76.4 per cent taken on smartphones. This year, 2017, an estimated 85 per cent of all photographs will be taken on smartphones while digital cameras will only shoot 10.3 per cent of the 1.2 trillion photographs expected to be generated. The rest will be awkwardly shot on tablets.
These trends, of course, are driving a whole new work/life configuration. For the first time in history more of us are living in cities than on the land. In turn, this coincides with a time in history when more and more of us are sharing our lives on cyberspace in a great flood of photographs and text comments. An open society where we seem to take great delight in recording our every waking moment. A collective biography where you no longer need to be a ‘celebrity’ or have a publishing deal to tell your story.
These are the shops I am passing on my way to Costa Coffee. Click! This is a homeless man in a shop doorway. Click! This is me! (Selfie – with people, initially unseen, waving in the background) Click! This is me at Costa wit a Latte and lem muff. Click!
We could call the whole pastiche – A Night In The Life of Lesley Marion Hunt*.
Significantly, there are no words or text with Johnny’s email just some great street visuals of the latest Apple campaign. This whole means of communication has now become hauntingly existential.
We live in a world that is rapidly evolving around the smartphone, social media and photography. A huge cyberspace universe where smartphones and social media interface and we connect and share trillions of images.
Art, in the form of these great ‘Shot On iPhone 7’ images – both those used in the Apple campaign and sent over by Johnny – imitates life, just as much as life imitates art. We all carry smartphones we are constantly shooting photographs whether for the artistic practice of mobile street photography or the social photography of sharing. And, here is Apple, cleverly, reflecting that existential meme back to us. Genius!
*Lynda Marion Hunt not the lady’s real name.