Chase Jarvis has been one of my favorite commercial photographers for years now. It’s been sort of dream of mine to someday become a successful professional photographer like Jarvis, Joey L or Annie Leibovitz, despite the fact that I shoot primarily fine-art style photography.
Back in September Jarvis released a sort of trio of unsuspecting photography tools based on his famously popular iPhone photos. You can view many of his iPhone snaps on his TwitPic stream. His photos get thousands of views by other Twitter users, more often than not bringing up the question, “how did you do that?”
The answer came out in the form of The Best Camera iPhone app, a social photo site The Best Camera.com and a fantastic book full of inspiration, illustration and annotation. He says it best, check out the video below.
The idea behind the project is simple, the best camera is the one you have with you, something Jarvis has proven this to be true time and time again. From photos of sewer grates to open fields to elevator steps to the decontextualized, his photos rarely fail to capture a certain photographic spirit.
The Best Camera iPhone app is a solid photo manipulator. It’s not meant to fix problems with photos but by stacking various filters allowing the photographer to create something truly unique. You can easily share your photos with your Twitter followers and Facebook friends as well as the applications aforementioned social site..
Jarvis’s book is essential the printed version of his TwitPic and Best Camera photo streams.
The photos are well printed and laid out in a way that somehow seems to work. With such a comprehensive and yet random subject matter, making something cohesive must have been difficult.. Most photography books I’ve picked up have been about one particular subject. This book is different. It captures everything, a sort of stream of consciousness.
Some of the cropping and effects used in his iPhone app seem to be a bit overdone, I subscribe to a sort of less-is-more faculty when it comes to these sorts of things.
Cropping down so many of the photos to fit the square book along with the exaggeration in color had me questioning the power of the photos themselves. Would they have been as interesting on their own or do they rely on the effects in the program?
Perhaps in the end these sorts of questions don’t matter. If the photos come out beautifully, carry a narrative or simply peek interest, perhaps they’ve done their job.
For under $15, this book is a steal. It’s really a blast to browse through the photos, to see how the limitations of a camera can become a tool. When I switched to a 50mm prime lens from a 18-135 zoom, I found myself taking much better photos. The same seems to happen with the iPhone. This book serves as a sort of illustration and guide to what is possible, though ultimately the limits are endless.
You can get the book at several resellers including, my favorite, Amazon.com. Click here to check it out.
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