2010 was a breakthrough year for iPhoneography. It’s been an exciting year and a lot has happened.
To put it all into perspective, exactly one year ago, the iPhone 3GS was the top of the line and most of us were still shooting with the old lo-fi iPhone 2G or 3G cameras. CameraBag and ColorSplash were still many iPhonegraphers’ go-to apps. Before Iris and PhotoWizard-Editor, there were only two combatants in the photo editor app wars — Photogene and PhotoForge. Remember that Photogene was winning? Hipstamatic had just been released and was just being discovered by the iPhoneography community. And display of iPhone photography was mostly limited to Flickr and Facebook.
A lot has happened over the year. The community has grown. We are drawn together from the online world and many of use have since met in the real world. There are a lot more people taking pictures with their iPhones now and a lot more creating art. Here’s my rundown of the biggest iPhoneography news stories of 2010. If I missed any, tell us yours in the comments below.
9. The cameras on the iPod Touch
iPod Touch owners, welcome to iPhoneography. This year, the iPod Touch got an upgrade in the form of front and rear facing cameras. The specs on the primary rear-facing camera are great for iPhone videography — it’s capable of shooting 720P HD video. It’s not so great with still photography, as the camera creates stills with a resolution of less than 1 megabyte. Still, this new camera has created its own sub-genre of iPhoneography. It’s resolution and image qualities have more in common with the early iPhone 2G cameras than the sexy new camera of the iPhone 4. As cell-phone camera technology moves forward, the digital lof-fi camera on the iPod Touch is a refreshing, sometimes frustrating, throwback to the low-res days of two years ago….
8. Instagram and social photo sharing
Instagram is more than just a photo app. Instagram did what several others could not — create a viable online photo sharing social community that’s almost completely phone-based. Others have tried. Best Camera is probably the most successful previously, while newcomers Path and Burstn haven’t caught on nearly as fast or as well as Instagram. Grabbing over 100,000 users in its first week, Instagram has successfully merged this simple camera app with not only its own online community, but with most of the other popular ones as well. And it’s done so with the iPhone as the primary portal.
7. Hipstamatic exposed
The backstory of Hipstamatic is legendary in iPhoneography circles. A story for Wausau, Wisconsin’s City Pages by Rick LaFrombois, makes the top iPhoneography stories of 2010. Rick did the reporting and the legwork to discover that the famous Dorbowski story doesn’t add up. Click here for all of Life In LoFi’s coverage of this story. In retrospect, Hipstamatic probably still would have enjoyed the success over the year that it has seen, but the story of the Dorbowski brothers and the app’s inspiration based on a legendary prototype plastic camera from 1982 added humanity, depth and a lot of coolness to the app. As one reader put so well, the backstory made us feel a connection to the app. It turns out that we still love the app and this was really a non-story.
6. eyephonography #1
In September, 2010, The Hub Madrid hosted eyephoneography #1, Spain’s first iPhone photography exhibit. A few days later, the exhibit closed prematurely after an act of vandalism destroyed most of the works on display. It turned out Max Oliva, the the director of The Hub itself was responsible for the vandalism. As the director of a creative co-op, Oliva had a duty to, at the very least, respect and protect the works of other artists and exhibits under his tutelage. Instead, politics and personal preference provided an infamous end to Spain’s first iPhoneography show.
5. Hipstamatic — Apple’s App of the Year
There are currently over 300,000 apps in the App Store, including many outstanding apps in a broad range of categories. To many observer’s surprise, Apple named Hipstamatic the 2010 App of the Year. I believe this to be a well-deserved accomplishment for the app and the developers, Synthetic. Even a year after seeing the internet flooded with John S. photos, I think Hipstamatic’s filters are gorgeous and second to none. I love the analog camera-esque user interface that Hipstamatic created which changed the way other developers though about the iPhone camera interface. Despite its “flaws” — you can’t import images from your photo library and the app is slow to shoot with — many love the way the app recreates the complete analog camera experience. It’s a gateway app — many iPhone photographer’s first exposure to what the camera and the device are capable of. It’s fun. It’s pretty on many levels. It’s a great choice for App of the Year.
4. Pixels at an Exhibition: The Giorgi Gallery Show
It would have happened sometime, but in January, 2010, Knox Bronson, Pixels: The Art of the iPhone’s curator did it first. A small gallery in Oakland, California hosted the first big exhibit of iPhone photography in a gallery setting. Previously, there had been scattered events featuring mobile photography in general and even an event featuring iPhone art in Chicago. But the Giorgi Gallery Show was the first real-world event to feature iPhone Photography exclusively. The show featured 200 curated images from among the best photos at the time and featured early works from artists like Maia Panos, Dixon Hamby, Valerie Ardini, Dominique Jost, Jaime Ferreyros, Torsten Geyer, Kristin Stuthard, myself and many, many others. The show was covered by several Bay Area newspapers as well as The New York Times, which led directly to other national coverage and exposure of the art in its emergence. While Knox has sometimes received criticism over his passion for the art (and, let’s face it, he has stirred the pot a time or two), his Giorgi Show set a high standard for iPhoneography exhibits and paved the way for other high-profile iPhoneography shows, including the EYE’EM events, eyephoneography and other regional and national shows.
3. Pixels at Apple: The Apple Store shows
September through November of 2010, Knox Bronsonâ€™s Pixels â€“ The Art of the iPhone presented the first iPhone photography exhibits directly associated with Apple. Up until then, Apple had sold us iPhones and apps to take the pictures, but had not really acknowledged, embraced or exhibited what the iPhone is capable of. The Pixels at Apple events changed all that. In events at the San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Santa Monica Apple Stores, customers and iPhoneographers were treated to displays of iPhoneographic prints, videos and multi-media displays. They got to meet, question and interact with many well-known iPhoneographers. It seems that Apple, all along, read the blogs and paid attention to the photography. The Pixels at Apple were the first events where Apple publicly embraced iPhoneography.
2. Camera+: Gone. Now back.
The excellent Camera+ was pulled from the App Store in August 2010 because of the hidden VolumeSnap feature which could be toggled on so the volume buttons on the iPhone could be used as a shutter release. Such a tactic violates Apple’s terms for selling apps in the App Store. The developer snuck the feature in anyway as an Easter Egg. The number one photo app at the time, it was selling huge numbers when it was pulled by Apple. Rather than cave or make an exception, Apple made a high profile example of the app. The penalty could have been as much as a one-year ban from the App Store, or even complete expulsion. Instead, tap tap tap cooperated with Apple. They didn’t talk to anyone about the issue — blogs, press, users — which in my opinion was the best choice they could have made. A few weeks ago, iPhoneographers got an early Christmas present from Apple and tap tap tap. The 2.0 update of Camera+ was approved and returned to the App Store. The update improved the app in many ways. And, of course, the VolumeSnap feature which caused the removal had itself now been removed.
1. iPhone 4
More successful at launch than any previous iPhone (and I suspect more than any previous mobile phone, period.), the iPhone 4 boasted more RAM, a faster processor and a sexy new 5MP camera with better specs than any previous iPhone and many point and shoot cameras. The new iPhone 4 came with a built in LED flash and 5x digital zoom. The camera was exponentially better than any iPhone before it. The colors were lush. The light sensitivity was greatly improved, reducing or eliminating the gray cast that occurred in older iPhones. The 5 MP camera captured images with great detail. Basically, Apple fixed many of the characteristics users either loved or hated about previous iPhone cameras. With the 4, the iPhone was no longer a digital lo-fi device. The iPhone camera had come of age.