CS sent our newest partner in shenanigans and supreme overlord of our blog to preview our newest show “Exposure”. We think she nailed it. – Daniel
I recently sat down with Amy Leibrand, co-curator of EXPOSURE: A Mobile Photography Exhibition, and asked her a few questions about March’s featured show opening this upcoming weekend.
Katie Herbst: Hey Amy! The show looks awesome! Were you surprised at all by the number of international submissions you received?
Amy Leibrand: I was, actually. I know a lot of the international folks through social media, and they’re all wonderful people so I’m not sure why I was so surprised when they jumped on board – I suppose because I admire their talent and am inspired by them. It is kind of weird to me to think that might work both ways. The excitement the participants have is overwhelming – a true testament to the inclusive and supportive nature of the global mobile photography community.
KH: What about the local submissions? Did they represent Columbus well?
AL: Absolutely! There is a great group of mobile photographers right here in our own community, many of whom have exhibited together as part of the “IGers Columbus” group (most recently at Travonna Coffee House). A few of these folks are professional photographers, even. Nicholas Carron is a force — a contributor to We Are Juxt, a prominent Seattle-based blog dedicated to mobile photography, in addition to being an acclaimed mobile artist and an ambassador for EyeEm (photo-sharing app that predates Instagram). We have some serious and dedicated mobile photographers in Central Ohio. The community is growing.
KH: You’re not only co-curating the show, but you’re also a participating artist. What are some of your favorite tools for creating mobile photography?
AL: I have more than 60 editing apps on my phone, though I only use 5 or 6 with any regularity. Right now I’m having a love affair with Photo fx and Snapseed, which both give the user a staggering amount of control relative to other apps.
KH: You know what I have to ask now. Are you on Instagram?
AL: I resisted for the first year and a half it existed, mostly because I was already a member of the EyeEm community, a Berlin-based mobile photography sharing app that predates Instagram. At the time of it’s inception, Instagram seemed to me more like a social app than a place to post artwork. I finally joined about a year ago (under the name @_thisspace_) because it is such a force it was impossible to ignore anymore. There are certainly many great artists on Instagram, you may just have to dig to find them. I primarily use it as a feedback tool, but also for inspiration and information about new apps.
KH: There are a ton of great pieces in the show. Have any favorites?
AL: (Laughs) This is impossible to answer! I do have a few personal favorites by artists that I’ve admired for years, but the work submitted is so strong and diverse that it’s impossible to choose just one that stands out. Seriously. All of the images are really outstanding. That’s a cop-out, but it’s true.
KH:Do you doubt the legitimacy of any of the photos submitted? Do you think anyone cheated and used Photoshop?
AL: I don’t think any of the participating artists cheated and used Photoshop. I personally know (through social media) more than half of the artists, and the other half clearly take the medium seriously. That’s not to say “cheating” doesn’t occur, ever — recently, an image that received an honorable mention at the 2013 Mobile Photography Awards was determined to be of DSLR origin and was subsequently disqualified. For the EXPOSURE Exhibit, however, I’ve viewed all of the images many, many times during the preparation of promotional materials and images for printing, and did not discover any inconsistencies in quality. Part of the beauty of post-processing an image on a smartphone or tablet is lack of control relative to software programs like Photoshop that allow the perfecting of an image. The imperfections, I think, is part of what makes the mobile images interesting.
KH: It seems like everyone has a camera phone these days. Will phones and tablets eventually replace digital cameras altogether?
AL: Since the birth of photography 180-something years ago, the genre has evolved from tintypes to wet plate negatives to roll film to digital sensors. Smartphones have already eclipsed point-and-shoot cameras as the most popular cameras on the market, and photo-sharing is the primary use of social media. Who would’ve predicted that, even just five years ago? It’s crazy how quickly the mobile medium exploded. But we are an instant gratification society, and mobile photography fits with that perfectly. Mobile devices are becoming more powerful and less expensive — momentum for the industry.
KH: Do you think the value of a photo taken with a phone is any less significant than one taken with a traditional camera?
AL: That’s tricky to answer. It depends, I suppose, on how the viewer or user perceives value. Mobile devices that are currently on the market have lower resolution than point-and-shoots and DSLRs. Using mobile apps to post-process can further degrade an image, sometimes significantly. So, if high-resolution, crystal clear images are the primary ambition, mobile devices fall flat relative to other cameras.
Sky’s the limit, however, with regards to image manipulation. There are countless apps that give the user control over minute details of an image, apps that use layers and masking, apps that mimic the basic features of Photoshop — with a little creativity and an eye for composition, the possibilities are endless. Purists will roll their eyes, but I feel strongly that using a mobile device to manipulate a photograph does not diminish it’s legitimacy. Editing on a mobile device, while not as powerful, is in a lot of ways similar to using Photoshop. Apps have moved far beyond the blanket filters that were once the prime option for editing.
The other protest about mobile photography that I often hear is the lack of technical things to tackle — f/stop, ISO, aperture, etc. Does the instantaneous output diminish the legitimacy of an image? The learning curve is certainly far less steep, making mobile photography accessible to the everyday shooter, but this shouldn’t diminish the legitimacy of an image. Ultimately, shouldn’t the end product, the artwork, speak for itself?
HK: Great answer!
AL: Glad you are okay with my rambling. (Laughs)
HK: Okay, lets end this on a totally random note. Bigfoot or Nessie, the Loch Ness monster?
AL: (Laughs) Funny you ask this. A couple years ago I made a Nessie snow sculpture. Loch Ness monster, for sure. Something about the mysterious foggy water.
You can see Amy’s work, as well as work from dozens of other artists participating in EXPOSURE: A Mobile Photography Exhibition, starting this Saturday, March 16th at CS Gallery.