Is the iPhone Good or Bad for Photography?

diloz via Flickr
Is iPhone photography art?
These days, anyone with a smart phone is an amateur photographer. Or at least they think they are. Don't get us wrong, we overuse Instagram filters as much as the next person, but we're starting to wonder how this technology is affecting one of our favorite art forms.

And we're not the only ones who are curious. First Studio Gallery had a show called "iPhoneography" last month, and MonOrchid is hosting a similarly themed exhibition "Social Photography: An experiment with virtual and physical space" in December.

With the question becoming more pronounced, we figured it was time for another round of Questionable Content. So we asked some of our favorite photography buffs about how the iPhone is impacting photography as art. Whether you use your iPhone for creating art or for taking pictures of your cat, you'll want to hear what they had to say.

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Timothy Archibald
Taken for Smithsonian Magazine's Instagram
Timothy Archibald
Award-Winning Photographer who recently took over the Smithsonian Instagram account

Things are moving awfully fast these days in the world of photography, but hasn't it always been that way?

Photography always had the reputation of the "easy medium," meaning that the entry point was fairly accessible, especially in relation to the other arts like painting, sculpture, theatre, any of the big ones really. This allowed it to be the art of the people -- something very popular, but maybe also something not taken as seriously as other arts.

And now we have this hand held device that really does all the retouching for you...these things look great, and the fact that it is always on the photographer just seems to be giving us glimpses of little moments we haven't had access to before. Undeniably fascinating.

So... now what? Like tossing a rock into a lake, you need to step back and see the ripples, see the waves, see what is hit by the water and what grows from where it all lands. Goofy metaphor, but I think it is appropriate. The camera phone is not going to go away, but it's too early to really see what it killed, and what it birthed. Right now I think we just follow it.

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Been thinking about this question for a while now. Yes, iPhone cameras (and GoPro etc.) can be tools of creativity, however, without the discipline to properly compose a scene and light it, or tell a story, the results are akin to the "infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters recreating the works of Shakespeare" joke. Or the shoe box on the shelf with Grandmas family pictures taken with her Brownie. Not art but valid as a means to keep memories.

If you never want to see your images on any thing bigger than a phone or maybe a 3x5 digital frame, then by all means, go crazy with it. 

Everyone can pick up a pencil but not everyone can draw.

Ryan Parks
Ryan Parks

Cool ...Sounds Trouble ... And Entrapment. Night Y'all ...Have A Good 1 Nicole Thanks For thinking Of Me ... as Walk Into The Gates of Hell.

Keenan Turner
Keenan Turner

Anything that can get people interested in photography is good for photography. It doesn't matter if they don't know how to use the settings of a camera, they're seeing visually attractive things in their lives and photographing them. Photography is more popular now than it's ever been


This is a prescient story. There is no question that the most ubiquitous medium will provide the most stunning results- thats just math. When ever asked which camera is best- my stock answer stays the same. "it's the one you have on you."


They're fine for what they are... for a niche, artsy style, (like Polaroid manipulations, etc). Bottom line, regardless even if it's a million mpx, they are "snapshot" capturing devices... no basic controls really, maybe "modes". Great for event, news and documentation when professional equipment is not readily present. Some people take pictures, others create inspiring images...

30 year Commercial Photographer


I'm sorry, but I have a tough time recognizing iPhone or Smart Phone photography as art.



But Nikon photography is?

Is it only art if it came from photons hitting camera film instead of a image sensor or something else?

Can an artist only work in oil and not pencil?

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