Financial District, Toronto
Smartphone technology has given everyone the chance not just to become a photographer, but also to take photography seriously. Tiny Collective's members are based in Paris, Toronto, New York City, Los Angeles, Istanbul, Portland, San Francisco, Atlanta and Dubrovnik, Croatia. Together and separately, they make beautiful, dynamic images without ever leaving their touch screens.
Next month, Tiny Collective launches the Around The World In 9 Days project - 900 images in nine shows in nine cities on nine consecutive days (June 20-28, check tinycollective.com for info), all printed live using Impossible Project's new Instant Lab, which prints directly from the iPhone.
Get a taste of the project at the Garrison (1197 Dundas West), where Toronto members 100 Million (aka NXNE programmer Crispin Giles) and Konstruktivist (aka Dan Cristea) are currently showcasing 20 unique prints through May.
"It's funny - this is the first time I've seen any of the work not backlit on a phone," says Giles. "I'm actually blown away."
Street collage, Toronto
Give us Tiny Collective's history
We first met on Instagram. A bunch of us who were working independently started doing more collaborative edits, and we built a network of like-minded people that way. We shared a common interest in developing a portfolio of work outside of social sharing sites, so I started asking around back in the summer of 2011 if a few others wanted to do something more organized as a group. Moving beyond the app was important. We built tinycollective.com and started planning work collaboratively. In total, there are 10 of us in nine cities across five countries. Many of us have never met in person.
What is it about smartphone photography that attracts you?
I do mainly street photography, where everything is super-fluid and dynamic - scenes and composition are constantly shifting and moving. It's street, candid, with lots of lines and dramatic light - I'm always looking for that one. Working with my phone allows me to react quickly and be flexible enough to capture what's going on around me without influencing the moment. It brings me closer to what I'm doing instead of making me hyper-aware of how I'm doing it. It's next-level point 'n' shoot. Everything I do lives in my phone, from taking the shot to editing.
There's also mobile photography's social nature, the idea that whatever I shoot I can share. Not that I'm all that cavalier. I'm actually very picky about what work I post to different sites. That this tool in my hand is sophisticated enough to both help me make the artistic statements I want to make and instantly share them with a larger community is really exciting to me.
You often sidestep questions about whether mobile photography is a valid art form. Do you believe the medium is beyond the need for justification?
What's valid and what's not, what's authentic and what's forgery - I think these questions are old and tired. Stuff changes, things move forward, things move laterally, sometimes they move backwards, and definitions mean different things to different people at different times. For me, it's about what's being expressed, what the intentions are and ultimately what's being communicated. If I'm engaged with a picture, a piece of music, a book, a film or whatever and I find myself questioning whether it's art or not, then it's probably not. For me, the message is the message.
Do you have any tips for beginners who want to get into it?
Get into it. I mean, get out there and get used to shooting. A lot. The more you shoot, the better you become and the more you start composing and seeing the world around you differently. So many people are finding mobile photography now, and that's awesome. I encourage anything that responds to even a latent, subconscious desire to find a creative outlet. The world is all around, and it's an incredible subject.