Today was the first day that really felt like summer to me. I woke up at an acceptably late 9am, showered, got ready, and then headed out to a cafe in a nearby downtown with my mom to spend a few hours working and just enjoying being 'out'. The cafe was quite the nice experience; nice aesthetics, good atmostphere, tasty food&drink, and WiFi of course.
Throughout my time at the cafe, intermingled inbetween the two or so hours I spent learning Objective C and eating; I took a couple quick snapshots of my workspace, the cafe around me, my food, my laptop, and some detail shots of the Latte foam and the hardwood tables. The combination of being productive by learning something complex like code and getting to shoot some quick, nice photos made it feel like pretty much the ideal morning. Very satisfying all in all.
However, that's not that point of this blog post. The point is that while I was there shooting and coding and eating and drinking, the stark difference between the editing style I was implementing and a more traditional style really struck me. The sort of editing I was doing today was very fast, instant almost, and I think it's sort of a new "mobile" way of editing that has only been around for a couple of years, and is still developing dramatically.
To really understand what I mean by this "mobile style" I'll have to describe to you how I was shooting this morning. I had brought along my dedicated camera; the Pentax Q, but had unfortunately brought it with a dead battery inside. That left me with my iPhone to take pictures with, and so take I did. As I was shooting I would take half a dozen or so photos of the shot I was trying to get, then I would skim over them in VSCOcam's gallery interface and choose which one struck me as the most aesthetically pleasing or which had the most potential to come out the best. Sometimes I wouldn't always pick the best shot first try, and so I'd head back out to the gallery and choose another shot from the set to attempt to edit. If I tried a few and didn't find any I liked through editing, I'd just trash the whole set. If I did find a shot I liked though, I would start scrolling through the presets and seeing if I liked any of their looks and how they influenced the photo. More often then not, I was able to find a preset that suited what I was looking for and would then save the changes and head back out to the gallery to delete the other shots from that particular photo attempt.
Keep in mind that the whole process I just described probably took up about 3 or 4 minutes total, and that in that time I had shot, chosen which of the shots to use, and then edited it to a near-final state. That mindset and process is almost the exact same as what I use when I shoot for more "serious" purposes with my actual camera, but sped up so much that you end up with the final, edited down, shots nearly instantly. That was what struck me so much.
When I shoot with my Pentax Q, the process usually goes more along the lines of I shoot and take anywhere from a dozen to a hundred photographs, many of them repeats of the same shot where I'm trying out different framing, focus, or exposure. Then, later on that day, sometimes not even on the same day, I'll sit down at my computer, transfer all the shots to my hard drive, and then import them into Lightroom to begin editing them. This process can take hours, where I take passes through the photos choosing which ones are definite rejects right off the bat, which ones are 'maybes' and which ones I want to dig down into and start editing. Once I finally get to choose the shots I want, then I begin editing each of them quite painstakingly. Lightroom and VSCO Keys make this easier on me, but I still spend a lot of time on each photograph playing with the exposure, film preset, and other aspects of it. It's no quick process, and so more often than not by the end of it I've done quite a bit of work on each shot.
The interesting part is where you compare the two processes' end results. Both come out with the best shots of the bunch, both are edited, but one in substantially less time than the other. Are the iPhone shots better than the dedicated camera shots? Sometimes. They often won't be as 'technically good,' meaning that they won't have as good dynamic range, depth of field, detail, etc. But more often then not I find myself preferring the shots I take on my iPhone just because I can take pictures of things all the time, so I often get more interesting or aesthetically pleasing shots from my phone than on my Pentax. There are certainly use cases where the more "traditional" way of shooting and editing is better and obviously more useful, but more and more often I find myself just dicking around with tiny little details and sometimes just focusing way too much on the little imperfections that my shots have. This brings us to the question of where this new "mobile" style of editing fits into a photographers workflow, as well as how this new style will influence photographs, photography, and art in general.
For me it lets me insert photographic creativity into more of my daily life. I could probably accomplish the same amount of creativity by carrying around a dedicated camera and then editing the shots later on, but by being able to take pictures and then edit them seconds later it just helps the process be so much quicker and spur of the moment. It doesnt have to be a calculated decision to take out ones' camera, nail the exposure and focus just right and then take the photo. It can instead be something much more spontaneous, and creative. I for one love the creativity it can bring out in my daily life that might otherwise go untapped, and while I can't speak to what the impact will be on the photo world, I bet the change will be an interesting one to see manifested, and no one knows how close or far down the road that could be.
Whatever you guys do out there, just keep shooting.