Beyonce’s new album, 4, is amazing.
Sitting outside at the corner cafe, trying to focus on The Corrections, but distracted by the most annoying conversation ever between a man in his mid-forties and a girl, barely mid-twenties: “oh my god, so glad you called / I know / I don’t find her sexy anymore / she’s bipolar, on heavy meds / you gotta show me your tits one day / you’ve seen them, no? / I would remember / I gotta go workout / get in the best shape of your life / are you saying I’m fat? / I can’t imagine you with bigger tits / I love you / I love you more / no, I love you more / no no no / I’m gonna go run / you’re beautiful / oh my god, you’re beautiful.”
It turns out, this year’s third place prize at the Pictures of the Year International contest was handed to a staff photographer from The New York Times named Damon Winter. The category was Feature Picture Story. His series, entitled A Grunt’s Life, followed a bunch of G.Is stationed somewhere in Afganistan going through day-to-day life on and off missions. The series is stunning for its representation of life at war, and the photographs are as intimate and real as they get.
The astounding part of this story is that Winter’s winning picture was taken with iPhone’s popular Hipstamatic app. The debate about the legitimacy of “Hipstamatic” photography in the context of photojournalism is now hotter than ever.
Here’s my take and it’ll be simple: Photography has never been about the tool, or the format. It is about one person’s vision. You either have the eye for great visual story telling or you don’t. And so what if Hipstamatic “alters” the aesthetic of the scene? The choice of scene remains purely in the photographer’s eye. And I don’t see how Hipstamatic’s aesthetics are any different than post-production craziness in Photoshop. Winter’s series is amazing and the tool he used to capture these moments should not be an issue.
Damien Winter wrote a great article back in February about the controversy regarding his win. Read it here.