In 2013 publisher and photographer Pierre Le Govic launched Out of the Phone, a publishing house dedicated to mobile photography. This December the company released its second book ‘Out of the Phone – The Mobile Photo Book 2014 Edition’ featuring 100 Instagram photographs from both professional and amateur photographers.
The desire to create a physical book from mobile photography that is born in the transient digital space, speaks to our tactile nature – people still want to hold and feel the weight of a book as opposed to viewing images solely on a digital device. Certainly that is my preference. The printed book enables me to spend more time with each image it makes me slow down, and give critical thought to what is being presented.
If there is one thing that frustrates me in the digital image space it is the lack of critical analysis – just because you can doesn’t mean you should and too few exert control over what images they post. Not everything is worth sharing and in this environment finding great photographs is like the proverbial needle in a haystack. Instagram is awash with images. Daily the number of photographs uploaded is staggering, millions of them, and there are only so many photographers one can follow before the entire day is sucked into cyberspace. So how do you select only 100 images from this endless flow?
Pierre created the #outofthephone hashtag and used this pool of images from which to make the selection. Included in this first edition are photographers such as American photojournalist Ben Lowy who is one of the pioneers of mobile phone photojournalism, although this is only one of his disciplines. With hundreds of thousands of followers in social media circles Lowy has set a blistering pace. Since 2009 he’s posted one image every day on social media, a commitment he says is as much to himself as to his followers. Lowy also uses mobile photography to experiment with various Apps.
“We might have entered a new age in our relationship with images,” comments Pierre. “Served both by a democratic tool and the increasing possibilities given to photographers to instantly share, connect and learn from each other, mobile photography has shaken our habits, beliefs and photographic landmarks… (but) mobile or not, photography is photography no matter the camera.”
I agree with Pierre’s statement that photography is photography. I would add that the “eye” of the photographer is what differentiates great work from mediocrity, particularly in an age where access to technology is no longer the barrier it once was. I also believe the conversation around professional versus amateur in this space has moved on. The question is now about how to curate the vast repository of images that live in cyberspace and it is this new frontier that lies at the heart of Pierre’s motivation.
“I think that there is a real need for curation,” he says. “This book brings side by side professional photographers such as Ben Lowy, Q Sakamaki, Richard Koci Hernandez and Ako Salemi and amateur photographers, even beginners who discovered photography thanks to the mobile phone and appear to have a great eye. To extract some art instants from this overwhelming digital flow and to put them on paper in a book might help keep memory of them.”
What I find most interesting about mobile photography is that because mobile phones are omnipresent photographers have even greater freedom to react with complete spontaneity, and to also fly under the radar. Of course immediacy also results in an enormous volume of banal imagery. But for those with the ‘eye,’ mobile photography is a liberating, creative space and Instagram the ideal platform to share, get feedback and collaborate.
‘Out of the Phone – The Mobile Photo Book 2014 Edition’ features both black and white and colour images. It’s an ambitious project to select only 100 photographs, but it is a start in finding a way to curate, and also preserve, work. And it is another way to communicate the value of ‘good’ photography to a broader public whose appetite for the medium seems to know no bounds. To this end ‘Out of the Phone’ is also a welcome addition to the conversation around visual literacy in the digital age.
In conclusion Pierre says, “Much attention is paid to the community on Instagram. There is both a positive and stimulating interaction on the social network. This book is a kind of physical meeting point for this group of photographers as well as a tribute to their works. It also offers an overview of some of the best mobile photographers.”
Out of the Phone – The Mobile Photo Book 2014 Edition
100 photographs, 5 colour offset printing