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Brooks, it *is* just another tool, and in the hands of a good photographer it can be used creatively whether or not they use it casually. Is it a Nikon D800? No, of course not. Is it a camera? Yes.

Advertising is easily ignored. Trust your own experience and instincts.

Walter Hawn

Des Talbot has been making some excellent art with her iPhone, but then, again, she's an artist, not a snapshooter. http://desandian.posterous.com/

Terry McDonald

I'm with you Brooks, but at the same time recognize that what you are saying has been said for years about everything from P&S to professional DSLRs in the hands of someone who has money-to-buy but no talent. Picture-taking is casual. The problem lies more with the concept that a camera in the hand makes one a photographer. Anyone who can take pictures of any sort is now a photographer, yet you and I know the vast gap between a snap and a photograph - or maybe it's just semantics because what I would call a snap (a lot of street photography, for example) is called a photograph by many others.

I'm sure painters say the same thing about anyone with a brush in their hand, but the commitment required to paint certainly diminishes the casualness you've identified with smart phones.

What to do?

Alan Huntley

Hello Brooks, imo mobile photography is yet another slice of this big pie we all call photography. Is digital the same as film photography? Of course not. Is one better than the other? Imo, NO, they're just different.

Dan Burkholder does some amazing things printing his iPhone pics onto vellum, and then coating the back of the paper with various things like gold leaf. No one would argue that these prints are better/worse then his platinum/palladium prints; just different, but equally lovely!

I really enjoy shooting and apping with my iPhone and iPad, and I've produced a couple of fairly nice small prints, but I certainly won't hold 'em up in comparison to my 5D II prints or prints from 8x10 scans.

Mark Matheny

Is it the technology that is Just Wrong, or the marketing? I would never expect my iPhone to turn me into a great photographer, nor would I expect it provide world class images. But maybe it can help to make me a better photographer, it is a camera that I have at my side at all times.

I believe the iPhone camera provides a continuous flow to the creative side of photography. If I see something interesting, I will capture it immediately. No need to wonder how I would interpret it if I had my real camera, and if it's stationary I may come back to it under similar conditions and make a real image.

I've never bought into the deceptive side of marketing, but I do buy into the iPhone as a creative tool for photography.

Godfrey DiGiorgi

Marketing spin, advertising ... Just sucks dirt. it's all image and fantasy. Lies with which to gather money. Hate it.

Serious artists can use a Holga to make brilliant art, it's a great tool. The iPhone and its like are far more capable tools. But stil just a tool.

Art takes tools, intent, and skill. Tools are the smaller part.

Bob Dart

Brooks, serious artists will pick up a given tool and use it to speak their heart and soul. Any tool can be used casually by anyone, but the serious will make it sing.

I have used view cameras, 35mm, medium format, etc. All to speak my heart. When i got my iPhone I had not even considered the possibility that i might create serious art with it. I have to say, though, that I have produced some very satisfying images with it.

I carry it with me always. Even when I am out with another camera of choice and will bring it out when I see an image that suits it better. I have found that versatility very liberating.

How is this any different than any other revolution in photography that has gone before us? It is a tool to be used by those who can put their voice to it. Don't put it down just because you can't see your voice through it. Give it a "serious" go for a while and you might be surprised at the doors it opens for your voice. In my IMHO that is!

Frank Devlin

In its early days photography was not considered art. "photograph, n. A picture painted by the sun without instruction in art". (Ambrose Bierce)

Is street photography art? Is color photography art? Are Polaroids art?

The art is in the final image, not the technology, the process or the tool. Cameras are tools. Even if the tools are simple to use, one needs to learn how to use them to express what one sees in the mind's eye.

Al Benas

I agree with the concept that art is the work of the artist, not his tools. What concerns me is the fact that the work is sometimes not the work of the artist, but the work of the tool. Cellphone photos are usually products of someone else's apps, Holga photographers talk about how they like to be "surprised" by the camera's flaws (similar to apps). The viewing public usually does not know the qualifications of the artist and, in the immortal words of Ctein, over at The Online Photographer, "Nobody Cares How Hard I Worked ..." So it does make it frustrating when you are competing for their attention and all they see are the "borrowed" effects.

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