South African creatives explore the liberating medium of cellphone photography

There is little cost involved in taking a picture on your cellphone and now thanks to social platforms like Instagram, photographers are able to share snapshots that connect with strangers around the world. South Africa’s Kayla Armstrong, Daniel Malan, Ismaaeel Solomon, Azuli Peeters and Jodi Windvogel are publishing photos with artistic value onto their Instagram accounts, applying the core principles of photography, such as composition and lighting even to the limitations of their camera-phones.

Here, they chat about how their phones help them to keep their photographic brains switched on and ready to capture unexpected moments.

Ismaaeel Solomon

Ismaaeel Solomon was born in Cape Town and is now based Stuttgart, Germany where he is studying German.

What do you shoot with?
I shoot on an iPhone 5 that I have had for four years now, but kinda wish a Nokia 3310 would have a camera. I crop and straighten images only, using Photoshop express for iPhone.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
If I were to explain the feeling I want an image to give off, it would be boredom. I do consider certain composition rules that apply to photography, like leading lines and cropping but most of the time the image should consist of repetition. I try to keep it simple and allow colour or shape to play its role.

What are you into shooting at the moment?
Body parts.

Daniel Malan

Daniel Malan is a Cape Town-based photographer and visual artist.

Why do you shoot on your phone?
I’ve gotten into the habit of holding my iPhone while I’m walking. Anything that catches my eye I’ll quickly photograph. I haven’t ever had this same relationship with a camera even though I have a Leica in my bag and even if I did, a camera is far more invasive in most situations.

How does mobile photography fit your aesthetic?
For me using a phone isn’t an aesthetic decision but rather a practical one. It allows me to be voyeuristic or engage with people comfortably. I do appreciate the effortlessness and the aesthetic that inevitably comes with that.

Jodi Windvogel

Jodi Windvogel is a photographer, born and based in Cape Town.

Why do you shoot on your phone?
Not only do mobile cameras have the same capabilities as some DSLRs on the market but I’m also able to share my work instantly with people from all over the globe.

How how do you feel about platforms like Instagram?
Before Instagram started booming, most of my images lived on hard drives. There was very little incentive for me to produce work like I do now. With platforms like Instagram I’m aware that there are millions of users and potential viewers which definitely has an impact on my work and my constantly wanting to produce more.

What are you into shooting at the moment?
I photograph the streets of Cape Town in an on-going attempt to document the fabrics that make it unique. My images look to dismantle negative stereotypes of people of colour. The iconography of people of colour as poverty-stricken, gangster, prostitute, are replaced with more progressive images of people of colour as professional, vibrant, individuals.


Kayla Armstrong

Kayla Armstrong is a high school student based in Joburg. She recently started an Instagram account dedicated to nude selfies.

What’s this series about?
Everybody knows what a nude is. I understand people enjoy sending them, for whatever reasons, but I’ve never felt the appeal. They make me uncomfortable and exposed in my nakedness and over-sexualised. I can’t help but feel like nudes just perpetuate this over-sexualised image of women as depicted by society.

“Send nudes” has become a millennial catchphrase and I think that it consequently dismisses and denigrates the beauty of a woman’s body. With @staerkarm [Kayla’s Instagram account dedicated to nudes], I wanted to change that. The nudes that I’ve posted are pictures of my naked body that I’ve taken in the mirror or with my selfie camera. I guess they are sensual in their own way but I try to keep it subtle. I try to make my photos about beauty to remind myself and others too that our bodies can be beautiful in different ways.

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