The Smartphone Revolution, filtering and the re-emergence of non-sanitised stock photograhy.

There were several things that I failed to understand in my knee-jerk antipathy to phone photography. Firstly, it has in many ways re-invigorated photography. More people than ever are taking photographs on a daily basis and see it as a part of their lives. Being a photographer is no longer what terrorists and paedophiles do.

But more than that, it's had a couple of knock on effects. Mobile Smartphone snappers, knowing no better of course, think that they can take pictures of anything, anytime, anywhere. This does of course occasionally result in some unfortunate images, but then that happened when photo buffs did it anyway. 

So photography has 'come out of the closet' which is no bad thing. This has resulted in lots more editorial, real life, non sanitised, non model and property released pictures turning up on stock photography websites. Indeed, though some libraries still insist on the safe option, some are positively encouraging this with mobile / tablet apps. for instant uploading. This has seen a great increase in the number of these kind of reality images, reminiscent of when I started to shoot stock, available for sale. It seems we are allowed to document the real world again, without having to worry about teams of lawyers descending on us if we have the nerve to photograph someone's garden gnome.

And a great many of these images are heavily filtered, usually in some pretend 'old-school' analogue film camera style. And I've taken full advantage of that.

I've even taken the opportunity to run some of my old film scans through Instagram, Snapseed and the rest on my iPad to make them look modern / retro / vintage / cool / distressed / vintage / now / whatever?? You work it out for yourself. All I'll say is one of the above was taken yesterday and some others 20 years ago. 

Let's get one thing clear. This isn't creative. This isn't art. This is applying some crappy preset filter effect to make an image look crappy and filtered. However, it seems some of the libraries I contribute to can't get enough of it. And unlike images created with Lomos, Holgas, Lensbabies and all the other landfill that purports to give a hipster, creative, artistic sheen to our photographs (but just creates unpredictable junk) I have the pristine originals sitting on my hard drives for when this fashion fizzles out. 

However, I'm nothing if not pragmatic. And quite prepared to 'grunge up' my images if it means a few extra sales. So yes I am the 'stock photography fashion whore' you always suspected I was. Now whether it goes anywhere, whether they sell, is anybodys guess. I certainly haven't got a clue. But it is admittedly a lot of fun 'torturing' images on my iPad and seeing what gruesome combination of light leakage, dodgy colour, scratches, mock HDR and the rest that I can come up with. 

And above all it gets me away from all that photo buff bragging, gear brand worship and hobbyist dogma that is so tiresome and time wasting to me. Fanboy sites seem to be getting constantly hot and bothered about declining sales of DSLR's, CSC's and anything that can't make a phone call at the same time. But does that matter? If you have shares in Sony, Nikon etc. then I guess it might, but to the rest of us, we get picture taking equipment that's smaller, lighter, cheaper and does what it's supposed to with little fuss. I can only dream, but one day there might be a world in which MTF charts don't exist, or if they did, no-one took the slightest interest in them. A world where the images are the most important thing, not how we took them.

But then we might be well on the way to that anyway. Well some of us at least.

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