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South Cliff Funicular, an example of iPhoneography

iPhoneography is the art of creating photos with an iPhone.[1][2][3] This is a style of mobile photography that differs from all other forms of digital photography in that images are both shot and processed on the iOS device. Whether a photo is edited using different graphics applications is an argument among iPhone photographers.

iPhoneography has grown quickly since 2007, when the original iPhone's 2-megapixel camera was released. As the iPhone cameras improved in both resolution and image quality, more professional photographers ventured into this art form and started recognizing the value of an iPhone image.[4][5][6] The New York Times published a summer series of reportages using Instagram in August 2011.[7] Photographer Damon Winter won prizes for his Hipstamatic photos[8] of the war in Afghanistan.[9]

iPhoneography techniques[edit]

iPhoneography techniques are created using iOS-based apps. They are important so that they can add more features to the picture that has been taken. Using these apps, people can make many changes to a picture that was very bad and turn it to a very cool one. Some of these applications are free and some of them can be bought. They can be found in the App Store.

"Storm is coming", an example of iPhoneography

Basic editing techniques are those that are very simple to do and can bring about major changes to the image. They are usually done with a single click and are automated by the application. They include:

Basic effects are those effects that have a great impact on the photo and they can change the face of everything. This is because they can involve removal of addition parts of the picture thus change the major appearance. they include:

  • Abstract
  • Blur
  • Dramatic
  • Graphic
  • Grunge
  • Lighting
  • Painterly
  • Portrait
  • Surreal
  • Vintage

The development of iPhoneography[edit]

iPhone camera[edit]

The iPhoneography could not have gained its popularity today without the constant improvement through generations of iPhone cameras. The first generation of iPhone was only equipped with a fixed-focus camera with no optical zoom or flash. As it evolved into iPhone 3GS, the camera became more intelligent with autofocus, auto white balance and auto macro. Then the more refined iPhone 4 camera came into being and it was the first iPhone that could natively do the high dynamic photography. When the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 got released, the function of taking panoramas had been installed into the built-in camera app. As iPhone made all its way to the most up-to-date version—iPhone 6 and 6S, the functionality and performance had undergone a great deal of development, which would permit more sophisticated manipulation and higher quality of the picture.


In accordance to the refinement of the hardware was the emergence of more comprehensive system that would sustain various apps and further improve the user experience. July 11, 2008 saw the public release of iPhone OS 2.0 which finally allowed developers to create apps for iPhone.[10] At the same time, the App Store opened and changed everything. Users, from then on, could arm their iPhone with new functionalities through the quick download of apps. Among the earliest apps, there were camera replacement apps, photo filter apps or combined, a lot of which also provided social networking feature that allowed users to share their pictures instantly. In camera replacement apps, such as CameraPro, Snapture and Camera Genius, features including anti-shake, composition guide, burst mode and auto horizon etc. could better assist users in the photo-taking process. While the photo filter apps mainly focused on the post processing of pictures, including features like adjusting color, black&white that would change the appearance of a photo (see the “iPhone techniques” part) One of the elite app was the ‘Hipstamatic’ released on December 9, 2009, which combined both the camera replacement and photo filter features. Its user interface resembled the appearance of the film camera with many manual control options and different editing tools that ultimately contributed to the vintage look of a photo.

iPhoneography community[edit]

With all the groundwork done, the art of iPhone photography started to show the potential of great sophistication, which attracted more people into practicing. Among these practicers, some began to build up expertise worth sharing. And that was when the word ‘iPhoneography’ was invented and communities of it gradually formed.

On November 15, 2008, Glyn Evans created the iPhoneography Blog featuring news and reviews that made it the first and highest profile publication dedicated to the art of iPhone photography.[10] Though the blog itself was no longer there, the word “iPhoneography” lived on and bonded together the fans of this new form of art. Later on “Life in LoFi”, one of the earliest iPhoneography blogs, launched. It concentrated on the unique tonal and color signature in the digital lo-fi look of early iPhone pictures. There was also iPhoneOgenic, a blog featuring interviews with iPhoneographers with the project “iPhoneographer of the Day”

As more participants joined the community and delved into iPhoneography in great depth, works of high quality and aesthetics emerged. Thus iPhoneographers started to seek for larger platform on which they could introduce their work to a wider range of audience. On June 30, 2010, Pixel at an Exhibition was held at Berkeley CA. It was the first gallery show to feature iPhoneography exclusively. Through this exhibition, the organizers and curators Knox Bronson and Rae Douglass intended to celebrates a broad range of styles coming from photographers who have embraced the technology of the iPhone and the spontaneity of having an inconspicuous camera that was always in their pocket.[11] Later on, with the acknowledgement on the artistic value and influence of the iPhone, the official Apple entity held a series of presentations called “Pixel—The Art of iPhone at Apple” across the U.S. which marked that the iPhoneography has made a jump from the electronic media to traditional, hand-on media.

Social practice on iPhoneography[edit]

iPhone journalism[edit]

With the technical advances and wide social participation, iPhoneography has gained a great deal of maturity that lead to its expansion from the online social media territory to the realm of mainstream media. The major news magazines and newspapers are getting aware of the influence of iPhone photography. Also a lot of professional photographers as well as photojournalists come to realize the strength of iPhone as a handy tool to capture abrupt events or shoot in harsh or chaotic environment. It is comparatively small in size with enough swiftness in shooting pictures that could minimize the intervention to the subject while capturing the most spontaneous sight. And above all, it’s always in the pocket and ready to go. In Afghanistan in February 2011, photojournalist David Guttenfelder, winner of numerous World Press awards, used the iPhone’s Polarize application, which imitates the look of a Polaroid, to produce pallid, washed-out war photographs.[12] In another case, when the superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, causing great damage and casualty, Time sent out 5 photographers with iPhones to document the devastation. Photographers dived deep into the site and captured pictures in close distance to the storm and people suffering. 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. Though in many aspects, an iPhone is no where close to a professional camera, the editorial gestures of the major press are confirming its growing legitimacy as a tool for photojournalism.

iPhoneography tools[edit]

There are many accessories available to iPhone photographers, including:

  • 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.


There are many iPhone apps that allow photography, editing, and effects, and sharing via social media. Some of the most popular apps include Instagram, VSCOCAM, Camera+, BeFunky, FX Photo Studio, and Hipstamatic. Some of the applications, including Clashot, Foap, Scoopshot, Fotolia Instant, allow users to sell mobile-made photos as microstock photography.


  1. ^ Question: What is iPhoneography?
  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. ^ Evans, Glyn. "iphoneography". Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  5. ^ Fitz-Gerald, Nicki. "iphoneographycentral". Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  6. ^ Yawnick, Marty. "Life in Lofi: iphoneography". Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Fluid Human Dance That Is Grand Central", New York Times, September 1, 2011.
  8. ^ "Between Firefights, Jokes, Sweat and Tedium", New York Times, 22 November 2010.
  9. ^ "iPhoneography?", included a Pulitzer Prize
  10. ^ a b "A Timeline made with Timeglider, web-based timeline software". timeglider.com. Retrieved 2016-02-12. 
  11. ^ Yawnick, Marty. "Review: Pixels at an Exhibition, Giorgi Gallery | Life In LoFi". Life in LoFi: iPhoneography. Retrieved 2016-02-12. 
  12. ^ Lavoie, Vincent (2012-05-24). "War and the iPhone". Études photographiques (29). ISSN 1270-9050. 

External links[edit]