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Photographer's iPhone shot proves worthy of NYT's front page

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Photographer Nick Laham's Instagramed portrait of Alex Rodriguez made the front page of the New York Times Sunday edition.

Great photographers know the importance of improvising; conditions are often less than optimal and circumstances can change quickly, but a photographer's perserverance can pay off when he soldiers on to get the shot despite all challenges.

Just ask Nick Laham, whose portrait of New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez made the front page of the Sunday edition of the New York Times. 

Laham squeezed into a locker room bathroom to take portraits of Rodriguez and other players during a spring training session. He explained the situation on his blog: 

"This was not my choice, I wasn’t given the option of studio or bathroom stall and decided on the latter. I joined the chain of photographers at 6 a.m. in the confines of the New York Yankees Spring Training facility in Tampa, and took what space I could get and worked with it."

Though Laham also used his DSLR camera to shoot the players, it was his iPhone-captured and Instagram-processed images that earned the attention of the NYT as well as Getty Images, which licensed the photos.

That an Instagramed image could earn such a coveted front-page position yet again has not gone without controversy: Poynter explored the topic today after Laham's image caused the Business Insider to raise a red flag about the demise of photography as we know it. But the move was really nothing new for the Times, which first ran photographer Damon Winter's Hipstamatic image of a soldier in Afghanistan back in November 2010. 

Laham shared more of the images he shot with his iPhone that day on his blog, including these portraits of CC Sabathia, Raúl Ibañez and Mariano Rivera:

Comments

Total comments: 78
12

these aren't even particularly good as far as portraits go. There are tons of better mobile photo portraits out on the net; why this got chosen was because the subjects are stars. Nothing more than that.

I wonder what would the result have been had he post processed his DSLR pictures.

0 upvotes

The iphone is a fine camera.
The processing may or may not be to your liking.
But giving Mark Zuckerberg a non-revokable, perpetual, fully-paid, fully-sublicensable, fully-indemnified right to use the photos and the New York Times brand is pretty stupid.

2 upvotes

"Hi, is that the nyt? Apple here. You know, it'd be really nice if you could use an iphone photo on your front cover some time. Perhaps we could help you with some apple inside scoops one day.."

"Oh well, yes, we do have this one year old picture of a baseball guy. Leave it with us."

2 upvotes
DenWil

If you're a newspaper trying to keep up in an era of social media do you appeal to the average Joes who account for a couple hundred million potential readers or do you cater to the artistes?

There is not a publication or network out there that does not covet the FB audience.

0 upvotes
dl73

Sorry but I registered only to protest against all these so called "pro" shooters with expensive cameras thinking that pictures with phones are worthless only because they are shot with, well ...a phone.

If the picture is appealing and the colors look nice on your all-so-perfect-calibrated-screen, then what's the problem?

How about we extend this way of thinking and state that all the pics shot in the 20's (by pro photographers) are not good enough anymore because the lens used at that time was not perfect compared to present standards?

I'm not a pro but am seriously interested in photography since I was 12 and turning 40 this year. No "pro" with education or without can tell me what to like.

To be honest, I like a good "snapshot" way more that all this perfect lit and 200% sharp commercial stuff out there.

Edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote

Well you said that you prefer a snapshot anyway, so that explains it right there. If you prefer Taco Bell to real Mexican food that actually tastes decent, then you're too ignorant to understand.

Edited 22 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo

So am I alone in seeing the ridiculous contradiction in a mobile phone emulating old-style photos...?

1 upvote

The only way to separate the true photographers from the technologically enabled ones is to reinvent film again. The technology is killing the art and these portraits are poor to say the least!

6 upvotes
Sammy Yousef

That just tells me NYT and Getty don't have a clue. Instagram is awful.

0 upvotes

So " NYT and Getty don't have a clue" but one Sammy Yousef does?

0 upvotes

getty licensed these for one reason only: Pictures of Stars sell.

Had these been ordinary people, no one would even bat an eye; as far as portraits go, they are quite unremarkable even by mobile photography standards.

1 upvote
Press Correspondent

The mobile hype is not just annoying. It is a dedicated wide spread attack to diminish and destroy photography.

3 upvotes

So why come onto a website dedicated to it?

2 upvotes

This twisted cheerleading of smart phones is really annoying. The only things that made this photo worthy NYT's front page were the Subject and the Skills and Status of a Photographer.

Sure the technology is making it easier for the masses to sing without voice, play music without knowing notes, make pictures without understanding light and composition. But without true skills and talent the outcome will always look comical, grotesque, amateurish, cheap, fake, 3rd grade-ish, etc, etc.

That's why I find such articles really annoying. They give too much credit to technology without any analysis of real factors of success of certain photographs.

1 upvote

Well, what can I say. I guess it works for web and newspapers but I doubt that this will work very well on quality print media.

I've seen some nifty shots done with cellphones before, but those shots are all about the right moment and a lot o luck. With a dslr on an assignment u need to be prepared with all the proper lighting equipment to shape and sculpt the image because u do t have the time to wait for the lucky lighting conditions. So no, for most professional photography applications u need pro caliber equipment.

0 upvotes

I've definitely seen far worse photos taken with DSLRs.

Time for you equipment snobs to take a chill pill. I remember reading an article about why more and more photojournalists were using Instagram and other forms of phone photography to cover stories. It makes perfect sense. Phone cameras can deliver sufficiently good image quality, and the ability to transmit the images practically instantly means photojournalists can get there images out to the world that much faster. Plus, unlike a DSLR, you can slip a phone into practically any pocket, and it's a lot less conspicuous than even many compact cameras.

3 upvotes

Their expressions say "You're taking my photo with your phone? In a bathroom stall?"

4 upvotes

Sorry, but if you are a real photographer, you ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS have some sort of real camera with you at all times, even something like a Sony RX100 at least. Maybe lugging the Nikon D4 cameras of the world everywhere is a bit much, but come on already--if having something like a Sony RX100 with you everywhere is more than you can bear, maybe you're in the wrong profession.

0 upvotes

Did you actually read the whole of the article, including the bit where it says he also used his DSLR as well?

4 upvotes

Yes I did, and still--you have a DSLR at your disposal, and you use a cellular phone? Why in the world would someone EVER do that?

0 upvotes

@larrytusaz - a lot of photojournalists are now covering stories with phone cameras because, unlike a DSLR, you can use a phone to capture an image, crop it, edit it (on a 4" or larger screen), then immediately send that image anywhere in the world. I don't think DSLRs are going to be getting 4"+ screens, Snapdragon processors, editing capabilities, and cellular phone connectivity any time soon.

1 upvote

Oh please Larry, are you a "real" photographer. Anyway, the iphone camera IS a real camera. And no, I don't even own a smartphone, but I've taken pictures for a living since 1971. I don't care what kind of camera you use. A REAL photographers photographs will always look better than a wanna be photographer.

3 upvotes

And a "real photographer" who would be retarded and mentally-ill enough to use a PHONE to take a picture should be forced out of business and not allowed to practice his craft based strictly on that alone. Period. It's the same as how no self-respecting chef would microwave Chef Boyardee in a zapper for anything he's presenting to others as an example of his "craft." He's a retarded idiot if he does so.

0 upvotes

OLD NEWS.

Photos were taken LAST year, licensed to Getty.

Nick Laham is young, creative, and SMART. Check his portfolio.

He's definitely NOT a hack.

3 upvotes

These are great!

The NY Times could save a little money by outsourcing their photography to include daily iPhone submissions.

0 upvotes

Can only see the second image on my ipad. Rest have the little blue square question mark, with no photo.

0 upvotes
weisman

I'm more interested in the light which is very nice. Is it natural light or a flashlight or something else? Why is the camera important?

1 upvote

I do not think that it is the image or what it was taken with that is the issue here. What is an issue is why this is deemed newsworthy at all.

PS The image quality does look pretty dubious).

0 upvotes

These look like 30-year old Polaroid pictures shot on film that had been left in the trunk of a hot car. Is this the "thing" now?

3 upvotes
alpha90290

Yeah. It seem to be look "OLD" is the "NEW" in thing :) He should have use 35mm film SLR :)

0 upvotes
Gary Dean Mercer Clark

Reminds me of a great photographer I know that uses Holga plastic lens camera with medium format film to shoot images.
For photojournalist, its the content that sells the image whether it is a technically perfect image or not. Different standards for different media.
Surprise!--there are actually quite a few photojournalists that are using point and shoot cameras for their work. This has been going on for a very long time. My gut feeling is that the degradation of the quality of photography for newspapers and magazines is the reason why newspapers and magazines are cutting their pro photographer staffs to a minimum and just purchasing stock photos for their articles. Canned photography seems to be the solution for news media. Wonder why your newspapers are crap? These dinosaurs are hanging on by a thread. Instagram and iphones are just another symptom of the dumbing down and lowered expectations of our society. Mediocre seems to be the theme for the sheeple.

2 upvotes
alpha90290

The value of the news worthy photo is not determine by the image quality alone. The photographer need to be at the right place and the right time to capture the right moment. Newspaper are losing business to the internet so they are unable to keep too many pro photographers staff. They cannot hire an army of photographers and put them at every corner to wait for something to happen. However, since almost everyone have a smart phone that can take pictures, everyone can keep a look out for news worthy pictures and sell them to the newspaper. This is the cost saving way for them to remain profitable and stay in business.

1 upvote
1 upvote

Crappy times need crappy pictures.

4 upvotes

What is so crappy ? Are you against "arty" pictures? The composition or the exposure is wrong? The focus?

Or is the camera not expensive or advanced enough for you?

5 upvotes

This is the Cambrian explosion if photography. It didn't "prove worthy" of being put on NYT, it was "being experimented" on NYT. With some more experimentation, we'll figure out what was an embarrassing failure and should never be tried again. Of course, for some of us, it's pretty obvious what will fail. Till then, the rest if the people will find it hard to figure out and will assume that all experiments are worthy of Nobel prizes :)

1 upvote

My iPhone is 8mp. It's handy as the camera I always have with me, and it actually has good color.

Is that enough for the above photos? It seems so. I can count the whiskers and eyebrow hairs. What would you do with more resolution? Count the threads in the uniform?

Anyway, I don't think newspapers need quite the resolution that a magazine would, and magazines vary in quality themselves, so I guess I'm not too surprised that a phone photo could be used.

I like to think that at least some of my iPhone photos are worth taking and keeping, so I guess for some of us, maybe this will be some validation that it's not a complete waste of time. But if this is the only camera you have with you, you gotta work with what you've got!

Edited 2 times; latest 2 minutes since posting
4 upvotes

I don't see where is the big news. if I am not wrong iPhone is actually a 5Mpix camera right? well, back in 2000 professional photographers were using digital cameras with less than 3Mpix to take pictures for press. that's 13 years ago. so, what's the big news again?

5 upvotes

3GS has 5 Mpx, iPhone 4, 4S and 5 use an 8 Mpx Sony sensor.

2 upvotes
animal900

Close, 3GS = 3MP
4 = 5MP
4S and 5 = 8MP

1 upvote

well, if it has 8Mpix then the news is even less worth mentioning.

I really want this "mobile photography" nonsense to be over soon. photography is done with cameras. iPhone is (apart other things) a camera, so, what's the big surprise? it's not like these pictures were taken with a stone but with a camera. that's a 150 years old activity. nothing new happened.

0 upvotes

"Apple is cool, buy more products" is the big news.

0 upvotes

Flat, lifeless and uninspiring.

4 upvotes

Ha.. best thing about this was that the Yankee's got spanked by the Red Sox on opening day.. in the Bronx!

Oh, to the person below that asked S.I. not to do any swimsuit issues.. Sorry to inform you but you might want to check out this years addition.. Last pages have instagram shots of the ladies... all and all, not too bad.

2 upvotes

*Cue 10,000 haters*

5 upvotes

The photo might be good enough. The text bellow is just awesome. These photos are nothing but "improvised" .
Phones are good tools, have many strong useful points, but don't treat me lika a fool with cheap advertising.

3 upvotes

I wish instagram and their bad colors would just shut down!

5 upvotes

Thank you Tom for at least not advising to stone them to death.

0 upvotes
Nishi Drew

The lighting is fine, maybe the camera is fine and since so many post-edit in grain/rough texture the look is fine. But what are with those colors, they might be hip and cool for the Newspaper folk to try out but at least work on getting worthwhile colors... oh right we're using a smartphone, can't expect too much.

It may be more interesting to run instagram photos, but if these shots were chosen "over" the DSLR shots then that makes me wonder how those turned out...

Edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
javidog

No fancy studio (justa bathroom) no fancy camera (justa phone) no fancy lighting. Great pics!! Still love me some Stieglitz and Walker Evans but Good job Nick. Mobile photos are here to stay. The only thing fading into obscurity are the cranky old dinosaurs who used to work in darkrooms.

2 upvotes

I guess I am a cranky old dinosaur since I used to work in a darkroom.

1 upvote

So they re-used a photo - so what? This is last year's news. Where ya been?

http://www.businessinsider.com/yankees-instagram-photos-2011-3?op=1

0 upvotes

PLEASE! Sport Illustrated.
Never use iPhone images on your annual Swimsuit Issue.
PLEASE......

6 upvotes

It's always the photographer and not the camera. But this will be forgotten in like 10 min.

6 upvotes

Is it just me...? My Mom's iPhone shoots better colors then this.
Might as well just to shoot B&W images.

3 upvotes

Did you completely miss the part where it said the image had been 'Instagramed'? That means the photos colours were processed and did not use the iPhones default colours. The customer (the newspaper) liked the look of the photo just as it was. If they wanted to have it converted to B&W they could have asked but obviously were happy with it as it was. The colour look is what would have attracted readers at the news stands. In B&W it would not have stood out on the news stands and would have lost them newspaper sales.

1 upvote

Instagram is now a verb?

4 upvotes
spoozer

It is now. You just witnessed history.

1 upvote

1st April guys
we been conned !

facepalm

2 upvotes

cheap advertisement

3 upvotes

lame

beyond lame...

Edited 1 minute after posting
4 upvotes

Yeah, get over it people, the photos are not bad. If you're this close with decent light, the iphone will give you just as good a photo as the most expensive DSLR. It's a 4x4 photo on newsprint.

Edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes

the MP doesn't determine the image quality. Only the sensor and lense combo do. MP can give you more detail but most uses don't require 24+ mp.

However, to say a mobile phone can take same quality shot as a DSLR is just blind insanity. You can take a better composed shot but the quality will NEVER be the same.

Take a look at the guy's getty images. His DSLR photos are there as well. Image Quality wise they completely destroy the mobile photos he took. The only real problem he had with his DSLR photo was he had them pose in really robotic poses specifically for commercial reasons. The IQ difference is night and day though.

They are not and will not be "as good as an expensive DSLR". An iPhone costs more than my Sony Nex C3 and the Nex will absolutely demolish any iphone for sheer image quality.

you can take good photos with mobile phones that can rival DSLR in content and composition but never in quality.

0 upvotes

And some say the Nikon D4 hasn't enough pixels ..

3 upvotes
CameraLabTester

It's J Jonah Jameson's call...

Live with it.

.

2 upvotes
Joe Ogiba

I guess wedding photographers will dump their DSLRs and just use their iPhones now.

3 upvotes

get over it. it's not bad.

Edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes

Everyone with a camera phone who uses Instagram will now exclaim "see, I told you I was a photographer!"

15 upvotes

With the proper lighting and processing, almost any camera can look good.

1 upvote

I really like the pics, but I'm just not sure they are NYT front page material. Mostly stylistically, not quality wise.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 78
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