Skip to content

March 13, 2012


Photojournalism~The Future Is Hipstamatic

by Darren Stone

Photojournalism ~ a type of journalism in which photographs are used more than words. Someone who reports news using photographs is called a photojournalist.

Hipstamatic~ iPhone camera app called Hipstamatic that allows users to digitally manipulate “lenses,” “flashes,” and “film.”

DSLR~ camera often preferred by professional still photographers because they allow an accurate preview of framing close to the moment of exposure.

It’s happening.

One of the first shots across the bow of “traditional” photojournalism occurred in November 2010 when NYT photog Damon Winter went to northern Afghanistan to capture the efforts of the First Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division.

With an iPhone and the Hipstamatic app.

His pictures subsequently won third place in the Pictures Of The Year International.

What’s happened lately?…well get this.

VII Photo Agency which represents the world’s eminent photojournalists has opened a new show_ i See The eyes of VII in the hands of Hipstamatic

Need more proof?

Legendary photojournalist Ron Haviv covered the fall of Tripoli with the Hipstamatic app.

Ron Haviv, Rebel soldiers fight for control of a pro-Qaddafi neighborhood.

Now I’m talking about the Hipstamatic app for the iPhone. Not Instagram.

There is a HUGE difference.

Instagram is a sharing app where you apply a filter of choice to the picture after it’s taken. They basically look vintage.

Hipstamatic on the other hand is much different. It’s name suggests that the images will look vintage. But in truth the name applies to the analog feel of the app. You chose a combination of lens , film and flash. The app processes the image in the phone. You can’t really do much after the picture is taken to enhance the image. Much like film.

The Hipstamatic app may have brought about the death, or eminent death of straight DSLR photojournalism, whatever that is, but not on it’s own. The move from content to aesthetics has been going on for quite some time now. Brought about by photographers of course. Also the big contests, and editors have been pushing them along. Today a Cartier-Bresson straight black and white print would never stand a chance against a vignetted, grainy, high contrast World Press Photo type image in a contest. Of course editors have chosen aesthetics over content to sell magazines.

Damon Winter, Northern Afghanistan

So what will it take to put traditional photojournalism in the grave? Time. Within 10 years it will be gone. If Apple decides to use some of it’s $100 billion to develop a stand alone camera (Oh…please…pretty please)…..maybe sooner.

News photography may take longer. Newspaper and wire images are still living in the world where realism and content are king. But this will change. Straight DSLR images that come over the wire seem tired and uninspired when compared to Hipstamatic images. As newspapers go online and the need for newsprint colour balance isn’t required, we’ll see much different news photographs. Pushed once again by photographers and contests. But mostly by editors. They desperately need to sell their product. Now more than ever.

And news photographers capture sports action images. Something that isn’t possible with an iPhone…..yet. But remember the $100 billion? If Apple comes out with an iCamera with telephoto, fast auto-focus and external flash capabilities, it’s all over.

Are Hipstmatic images accepted by readers as real and true?

The answer is yes.

What does this all mean for the young photojournalist? By all means get a Canon or Nikon kit. You still need it to break in. But keep it simple. Try not to invest too much. Get an iPhone and learn the Hipstmatic app. You don’t need a cell contract. Just get the phone.

What it means for Canon and Nikon is a much more interesting question. Let’s just say I wouldn’t buy any shares.

As for Hipstamatic. They’re probably working on a Ron Haviv lens, a James Nachtwey film and a Weegee flash.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Robby Cowell
    Mar 13 2012

    Wow, really interesting post. I guess a lot of it depends on how long this whole vintage/hip aesthetic holds the public’s interest, and, as mobile technology is getting better and better, we may well see the technical and expensive side of photography deplete due to the costs, relative difficulties in taking the shot, and a wider audience being able to take decent pictures. But I think we’ve already seen this phenomenon with digital point and shoot cameras, but they didn’t bring about the end of the SLR. I think the majority of photographers will know that there’s no substitute for this kind of thing and it will take a bigger punch to knock SLR/DSLRs out of the picture completely.

    However I am shocked and a bit worried that Hipstamatic shots are being used in photojournalism, I think it goes against the ideas of documentary photography.

  2. Jack Brewis
    Mar 13 2012

    Incredible post and concerning.

  3. Mar 13 2012

    Yes Robby I agree. the bigger punch would be an Apple stand-alone camera. And Hipstamatic isn’t necessarily “vintage”, it can be anything you want it to be by choosing film and lenses. Just like it used to be when a photographer choose say Kodachrome over Velvia.

  4. Mar 16 2012

    Hey, I’m old school, to a point, but then I’m old. I realize there is a trend (hipstamatic style photography) that has been developing for quite awhile now and I think it is mainstream at this point, I see what’s happening and I know nothing is forever, not even traditional photojournalism. We’ve seen that the people of the world have become the news source for the world. Cell phone camera’s and other electronic devices with camera’s have become the norm for public photojournalism. This source of information is so often far more on the spot than is possible with a photojournalist responding to calls from a city editor to go to such and such a place for a news event unfolding, by the time the hired photojournalist arrives, the best pictures are on the airwaves around the world. You can’t compete with that! Another point is the future of DSLR’s, there end is near, mirrorless camera’s are the next generation that has become the current generation that is replacing DSLR’s. Mirrorless camera’s are iphones and micro 4/3 camera’s. As pointed out earlier these camera’s still don’t have the technology to cover fast action as in sports and other related subjects but at the speed technology is moving it’s only a matter of time. When you have an electronic shutter 8,10, 20 frames a second or faster is feasible and actually happening, so the dinosaur DSLR with a mirror trying to move more than 10 frames a second is becoming a challenge for engineers. We should embrace technology because if we don’t the world will leave us behind, some people are happy to be left behind, not me. As long as there has been photography there have been trends. In today’s fast paced world, trends develop at the speed of technology and the acceptance of society. Point and shoot camera’s will be replaced by iphone style camera’s and Apple is leading the way, I can’t wait to see what’s next. Here’s a story written by a working professional on future of DSLR camera’s.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Single Image Sundays: Moth At The Door « rsmithing
  2. A Blog Any Really Serious Photographer Should Read / Darren Stone | Destructive Testing
  3. I love big photojournalist using Hipstamatic « James P. McLaughlin Photography

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

%d bloggers like this: