Notes from Vilnius

This series of pictures from Vilnius is really my first serious attempt to shoot pictures with a phone. It was not something I had planned. In fact I brought a couple of analog cameras and black and white film with me, but never came in the mood to shoot them. Sometimes the city and the circumstance decides the medium and the pace. I’m always responsive to this and ready to overthrow whatever I’ve planned if my mind decides there’s a better way. This time the story called for another approach and an immediate confirmation of what my eyes saw. Contrary to much of my earlier work which depends on detail, phone photography forces you to concentrate your motif in a sketchy manner to essentials in a strong simple expression. This time that was exactly what I aimed for. Much of this material is published on Instagram simultaneously while shooting… Among photographers it’s commonly known that the tool you use to capture your image have a huge impact on what kind of image you will get. Not only by technical means, and issues of resolution, but also portability, size and ease of handling and intrusion on the subject.
The history of photography exhibit several paradigm shifts due to technical development and availability of new image devises. Today photographers often choose to use old techniques to obtain a vintage look, or slow down the process and challenge their eye even if they technically can mimic the resulting image by modern digital editing. The chosen technique/camera/devise alters the seeing and this is how we must look upon the wide use of mobile phones as camera devises. American Master photographer, William Eggleston (Hasselblad Award winner and the first photographer to show a whole body of work in color at MOMA in N.Y.), has coined the concept of “democratic photography” where he treats all subjects equal. (Democratic Forrest, Steidl, 2015) Instagram has in some way created a more democratic representation. Everybody has a mobile phone equipped with a camera, and its technology is simplified and manageable by everyone. People (and monkeys) have gained power over their own image, their own representation. (wonder how many images throughout social media that are selfies in some form?)
On the other hand family albums depicting private and intimate relations are now made public through social media and are accessible to an extent never seen since the beginning of amateur photography. Mobile phone photography developed very quickly after digital photography’s breakthrough. The small simple digital cameras were really just a deviation before the iPhone came and the sales figures of these cameras collapsed. The key factor being the internet connection of the phones that allowed the omission of the computer as an intermediary. The genre of mass photography that fills todays social platforms has its origin and links to the availability of cheap simple digital photography for ordinary consumers (nonprofessional photographers). For the professional photographer, the transfer from analogue to digital only meant the exclusion of certain elements in the workflow and a time gain. The camera was basically the same, with the same features. For the general public on the other hand, this meant access to a completely new medium integrated with the internet and the new social platforms.