The rise of amateur photography
In an age where almost everyone can instantly capture their favorite scenes, are we seeing the death of professional photography?
Photography has been one of the most popular art forms since its invention nearly 200 years ago, experiencing a myriad of substantial changes within the past decade alone. Since the first cameras in the early 1820s, photography has come a long way. Gone are the days where dark rooms and clunky equipment are necessary for producing a quality image, replaced by fist-sized cameras, computers and most recently, cell phones.
Within the past few years, cell phones have become universal devices transcending mere vocal communication. The inclusion of cameras as a basic feature gave cell phones a new purpose. Today, billions of people have the capability of being amateur photographers with a slender device that fits in their back pockets. One of the most recent advancements for cell phone camera technology is a 13-megapixel camera, which is higher than many digital single-lens reflex cameras on the market today.
Of course with the addition of a game-changing feature like cameras as a standard on cell phones, application developers have created software allowing the editing and sharing of images with a few swipes on a screen. Images of food, friends, and everyday tasks fill the social media accounts of billions of people, visible for anyone to see. There are also those interested in capturing what the eye might miss, or what may not be as aesthetically appealing as a colorful meal or smiling group of friends — those who shoot beyond that which the public pays closest attention. Artist and photographer Ditta Baron Hoeber is one such individual.
A Philadelphia local artist, Ditta Baron Hoeber has displayed work around the city, though “Proximity” is the first exhibition of its kind. Featuring only images captured with a cell phone, Hoeber photographed fragmented images that function as a sequence to create each piece. With the sequencing inevitably comes negative space, which Hoeber describes functionally as “where the mystery resides.” The negative space can be anything from areas under seats to floors, the inclusion of which are common in these works as the quick capturing and time spans between images are subject to the ability of her cell phone camera.
Though the inception of this series of works came accidentally, Hoeber has developed a presentation reminiscent of film stills, seen through the time passed between images in a sequence. Exhibition curator Kaytie Johnson said of the sequencing, “Her work has a strong relationship to film. Because they resemble film stills, it feels as if you’re looking at a filmstrip. Sequencing is always really important to her work, and not just with these images.” While perusing the gallery, the immediate impression may be that they’re film stills, but closer looks reveal otherwise upon close inspection of the cell phone’s movement.
Ditta Baron Hoeber has worked previously with digital photography, capturing artists and creative people doing their jobs; however, after finishing the works in this exhibition, she is unsure if she would want to return to using a digital camera. Cell phone cameras supply a means of recording and preserving abstraction, which is what Hoeber sought to do for these images. The humans included in the photos are not the subjects, but a feature that allows for the abstraction and quick capture at a moment’s notice. This curious method of humans as non-subjects and sequencing presents a different view of digital photography in many ways, though primarily with the use of cell phones. With professional photographers and artists such as Hoeber shifting preference to cell phone camera technology—rather than larger, specialized equipment—it may only be a matter of time until cell phones become truly universal devices.
Ditta Baron Hoeber’s “Proximity” The Galleries at Moore, 1916 Race Street Through August 31st