Please Don't Call Me An iPhoneographer

I take immense pride in being a photographer. I’ve slaved away in the darkroom for it. I’ve stayed up after shows until 9 a.m. editing for it.

As a photographer and a millennial, artistic outlets and social media are two of my favorite things in life. Combining these two hobbies of mine has allowed me to make money off of Instagram, meet so many incredible people from around the country, and pursue my passion of being a tour photographer.

If it weren't for social media, my career would have never taken off like it has. As the weird art kid in high school, I’m so elated that photography has now become trendy. However, social media has also made me realize that over the past decade the meaning of art has totally changed: Everyone is jumping on the “creative” bandwagon.

The triggering words that made me realize that social media has commodified art were the terms “iPhoneographer” and “Instagram model." I was like, "Wait, so these are just people taking photos on their phones, and decent-looking people who aren’t signed to an agency?"

My friend told me about an iPhoneographer who gets paid more than I do. How does that even work? People pay for my equipment quality, my expertise, my resume, and references. So how is someone just getting paid for knowing how to use an iPhone? When I was brainstorming to write this piece, I Googled “iPhoneography,” and there’s actually an embarrassingly informative Wikipedia page on the activity. I can completely understand that not everyone can have expensive camera equipment, yet everyone still wants to take and post pictures. I guess I just find it kind of strange that having an iPhone now makes someone consider him/herself a photographer.

I take immense pride in that title; I’ve slaved away in the darkroom for it, I’ve stayed up after shows until 9 a.m. editing for it, and I’ve spent most of my adolescent years working toward it. The same goes for “Instagram models." I’m sure real models aren’t thrilled that this new genre of modeling is kind of discrediting what they do and what they’ve worked for.

The truth is that in 2016, everyone considers himself a creative. Whether you like it or not, someone with an iPhone is going to insist they are a photographer, and some girl selling tea on Instagram is going to be called a model. This sentiment goes for artists of other mediums as well -- fashion designers, painters, graphic designers, sculptors, etc. Their ideas and successes become minimized because of these “social media artists” with which the industry has become diluted; these people who think that imitating an artist is their key to Insta-fame.

My personal opinion on why it’s so much more difficult for artists to be discovered these days is because social media has diminished our capacity to appreciate art. We’re bombarded with words and photos on screens 24 hours a day. When we see something extraordinary now, we hardly even realize it’s extraordinary; we give it a double tap and keep scrolling.

Don’t get me wrong -- I don’t think art is dead. I think the opposite; art is more alive and thriving than ever. I follow a wonderful painter on Twitter and I’m trying to cover my entire house in her artwork. I follow a girl on Instagram who makes her own enamel pins, which are amazing! I love seeing people create, and I love how easy it has become to access and view people’s art from all over the world. I just think we need to put a little more thought into recognizing and appreciating creation, as well as reminding ourselves to be genuine and authentic when it comes to whatever we’re posting.

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