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Instagram-ing Tibet: Cellphone Photography

Jan 9th, 2013Asia, Design, International, Photos & Videos, Tech

This short reflection illustrates how Instagram has become a portal for some journalists to quickly share photos of their travels and build a community online for their images.  How cellphones continue to transform reporting.

This originally appeared in the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting’s Untold Stories Series.   

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Sean Gallagher

“Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us” — Oscar Wilde

I’ve never been one for keeping a diary. My parents encouraged me to keep one from a young age, but numerous half-filled notebooks are evidence of my failed attempts. Early on however, I realized that photography and the experience of looking at an image were much more effective in helping me to remember where and when I was at a certain place, but most importantly, what and how I was feeling when I was there.

This past summer and autumn, I traveled across the Tibetan Plateau, documenting some of the threats from climate change to the people and ecosystems of the “Roof of the World.” As I traveled, I carried with me my iPhone, along with my normal professional equipment.

For the past year and a half I have been taking pictures with my phone, mostly using it as a way to document smaller moments, or objects and things that I just wanted to record as a reminder for myself. This new tool has become my diary.

There has been a lot of debate recently about the role of cellphone photography and its impact on the professional world. Some see it as detrimental; others, as a new tool for story-telling.

I see it as the latter, a new tool that I have been able to experiment with, to play with, to help me think slightly differently about my approach to my work. Many of the images that I take with my phone have been captured in a manner that could not have been possible with my normal equipment. I don’t see a conflict in the images that I take with the different systems.

The other factor I have enjoyed with the rise of cellphone photography is access to a brand new audience who may not have discovered my work before. I share my mobile uploads through Instagram (http://instagram.com/sean_gallagher_photo), where I have found a large community of people who are interested in the work I do and the issues that I cover.

This gallery presents a selection of my images from the Tibetan Plateau, taken with my iPhone, presenting an alternative view of my coverage of the issue and a personal record of moments from my travels.

      

For the full collection of photos please go to A Tibet Plateau Diary. 

 

2 Responses

  1. Omar Paulo says:

    that is an interesting thought. Instagram photos, or on a more general sense mobile phone photos as a personal diary. much of the fanfare today is about getting social, but definitely the same mobile tool can be used for thought and self-reflection.

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