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South Cliff Funicular, an example of iPhoneography

iPhoneography is the act of creating photos with an iPhone,[1][2][3] or any brand of smart phone with a camera where images or video have been shot and processed on the iOS device. The term is originally derived from Phoneography which is the act of creating photos shot and/or processed by a cameraphone.[4]

Phoneography, though already a few years old, became mainstream with the advent of the iPhone and its App Store which provided better, easier, and more creative tools for people to shoot, process, and share their work.[5] In 2013, Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior VP of worldwide marketing tweeted a link[6] to a National Geographic feature in which phoneographer Jim Richardson used his iPhone 5s for a photo feature on the Scottish Highlands.[7]

iPhoneography has grown since 2007, when the original iPhone with 2-megapixel camera was released.[4] Photographer Damon Winter used Hipstamatic to make photos of the war in Afghanistan,[8][9] for which he won a prize.[10][11] Also in Afghanistan, in 2011, photojournalist David Guttenfelder used an iPhone and the Polarize application.[12]

The development of iPhoneography[edit]

"Storm is coming", an example of iPhoneography

iPhone camera[edit]

iPhoneography gained popularity with the constant improvement through generations of iPhone cameras.[4][13] The first generation of iPhone was only equipped with a fixed-focus camera with no optical zoom or flash. As it evolved into the iPhone 3GS, the camera became more intelligent with autofocus, auto white balance and auto macro. The iPhone 4 was the first iPhone that could natively do high dynamic photography.[14][15] The iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 were released with a panorama function available in the built-in camera app. The iPhone 6 and 6S further improved on functionality and performance, allowing more sophisticated manipulation and higher picture quality.[16]


July 11, 2008 saw the public release of iPhone OS 2.0 which allowed developers to create apps for the iPhone. At the same time, the App Store opened, allowing people to install new functionality through apps. Among the earliest apps, there were camera replacement and photo filter apps, some of which also provided social networking that allowed users to share pictures instantly. In camera replacement apps, such as CameraPro, Snapture and Camera Genius, featured anti-shake, composition guide, burst mode and auto horizon etc., to assist people in making photographs. The photo filter apps focused on the post processing of pictures, including adjusting color, or converting to black & white. A notable app was Hipstamatic, released on December 9, 2009, which combined both the camera replacement and photo filter features. Its many manual control options and different editing tools contributed to the vintage look of photos.

iPhoneography community[edit]

On November 15, 2008, Glyn Evans created the iPhoneography Blog featuring news and reviews, the first publication dedicated to iPhone photography.[citation needed] Later the “Life in LoFi” iPhoneography blog launched, concentrating on the tonal and color signature in the lo-fi look of early iPhone pictures. iPhoneOgenic was a blog featuring interviews with iPhoneographers.

On June 30, 2010, "Pixels at an Exhibition" was held in Berkeley, California, organized and curated by Knox Bronson and Rae Douglass.[17] It was the first gallery exhibitions to feature iPhoneography exclusively.[citation needed] Later still, Apple held a series of presentations called "Pixel—The Art of iPhone at Apple" across the U.S..

iPhone in journalism[edit]

In Afghanistan in February 2011, photojournalist David Guttenfelder, winner of numerous World Press Photo awards, used an iPhone and the Polarize application, which imitates the look of a Polaroid photograph, to produce pallid, washed-out war photographs.[12] In another case, when the Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of the US, causing great damage and casualty, Time sent out 5 photographers with iPhones to document the devastation. One of the shots, raging ocean waves collapsing on Coney Island in Brooklyn, taken by Benjamin Lowy, made the cover of Time's November 12 issue.

Photographer Damon Winter used Hipstamatic to make photos of the war in Afghanistan,[8] for which he won prizes.[citation needed]

Philip Bromwell, a journalist for RTE News did a network news story using his iPhone.[18] Professionals are using their iPhones for practical purposes as well as for certified and specialized projects. Michael Rosenblum, with others, has trained 1200 journalists in a video journalism "bootcamp" at the BBC,[18] and United Nations field operatives to tell their own stories using iPhones in Darfur, Mali and Syria.[18]

Phone hardware accessories[edit]

Some accessories available to iPhone photographers are:

  • Lens systems that clip directly on to the iPhone.
  • Tripods providing stability and preventing camera movement. They aid the photographer in low light.
  • Headphones can be used as a shutter release. The + (volume up) button acts as a shutter release for the camera.

iPhoneography apps and techniques[edit]

There are many iPhone apps that allow photography, editing, and effects, and sharing via social media. Some of the most popular apps include Instagram, Camera+, VSCO, Snapseed, FX Photo Studio, Infltr, Hipstamatic and PicsArt.

The following are basic editing techniques available using apps. They are usually completed with a single click and are automated by the application: Adjusting color, Black & white, Blending images, Collage and mixed media, Collodion development, Darken a photo, Depth of field, Fix perspective, Masking, Panoramic photography, Refiltering, or re-applying a filter, Retouching, Selective coloring, Sharpening, Soft focus, Street photography, Underwater photography, and Vignette.

The following are basic effects that can be applied to a photograph: Abstract, Blur, Dramatic, Graphic, Grunge, Lighting, Painterly, Portrait, Surreal, and Vintage.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Question: What is iPhoneography? Archived 2012-11-10 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Roberts, Stephanie (2011). The Art of iphoneography. Pixiq. ISBN 978-1600599231.
  3. ^ Goldsworthy, Sophie (2011). The Rough Guide to Digital Photography. Rough Guides. p. 187. ISBN 978-1405381178.
  4. ^ a b c "iPhoneography - How to Create Inspiring Photos with Your Smartphone - Michael Clawson". Apress. 2018-02-05. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  5. ^ "How-to: Use the new Camera app in iOS 7". 9to5Mac. 2013-09-20. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  6. ^ "Phil Schiller tweets links to iPhone 5s photos in National Geographic". 9to5Mac. 2013-10-08. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  7. ^ "Capturing the Aura of the Scottish Highlands With the iPhone 5s". Photography. 2013-10-07. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  8. ^ a b Estrin, James (November 21, 2010). "Finding The Right Tool To Tell A War Story".
  9. ^ "Hipstamatic War Photography on the Front Page of the New York Times". PetaPixel. 2010-11-23. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  10. ^ "Feature Picture Story". Home Ι Pictures of the Year. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  11. ^ Buchanan, Matt (2011-02-14). "Why a War Photographer Shot an Award-Winning Photo With a $2 iPhone App". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  12. ^ a b Lavoie, Vincent (2012-05-24). "War and the iPhone". Études photographiques (29). ISSN 1270-9050.
  13. ^ "Your Smartphone Camera Should Suck. Here's Why It Doesn't". WIRED. 2015-12-21. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  14. ^ "What HDR means for iPhone photos". Macworld. 2010-09-02. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  15. ^ AppleInsider (2010-09-02). "First look: Taking HDR photos with Apple's iOS 4.1". AppleInsider. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  16. ^ "What the iPhone has done to cameras is completely insane". Washington Post. 2016-04-07. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  17. ^ Yawnick, Marty. "Review: Pixels at an Exhibition, Giorgi Gallery | Life In LoFi". Life in LoFi: iPhoneography. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
  18. ^ a b c Rosenblum, Michael (29 March 2014). "iPhone Journalism". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 14 November 2016.

External links[edit]