One of the advantages of owning a smartphone is having the ability to document and share experiences right when they happen. There is barely any waiting required. Through various social media sites we can now report and track news from around the world.
On the morning of November 5, just when Hurricane Sandy closed in on the east coast, Time’s Director of Photography, Kira Pollack, proved the relevance of social media when she gathered five photographers and gave them access to the magazine’s Instagram feed. According to Pollack, the decision to choose Instagram as a medium depended on how quickly it can get pictures to the readers. She noted that “It wasn’t like. ‘Oh this is a trend, let’s assign this on Instagram.’” Pollack found that the picture chosen for the cover had “almost a painterly quality to it.’
Instagram filters, with soft focus options and gentle, warm lighting, create an intimacy and individuality uncommon to most frontpage covers. Bianca Bosker, Executive Tech Editor of Huffington Post, even argues that Instagram makes us remember and appreciate the events around us more effectively.
“Perhaps we’ll actually remember the “pretty” pictures of destruction and decay better than we would the straightforward journalistic kind, the same way Andrew Moore’s photographs of Detroit or Robert Polidori’s pictures of post-Katrina New Orleans stay with us long after we’ve seen them.”
Benjamin Lowy, the photographer of the chosen cover photo, also shares that:
“For years, I have worked with bulky digital cameras, always mindful of the technical maneuvers from setting the shutter speed and aperture to editing and toning on a computer screen. In the last few years I have discovered that my iPhone has allowed me to capture scenes without feeling that I am once again on the job. To “point and shoot” has been a liberating experience. It has allowed me to rediscover the excitement of seeing imperfections and happy accidents rendered through the lens of my handheld device.”
It would be curious to see as to where photojournalism will be 10 years from now. But by the way it looks, social media will certainly play an increasing role.
Below are other examples of Instagram photographs taken of Sandy and its aftermath: