The show was centered around a premise I thought was most unique and summed up in the exhibit's title: "Stripped. Bare. Branimir Kvartuc and his iPhone."
From the press release:
As a professional photographer working for such outlets as the Associated Press and the Jutarnji List, the national paper of Croatia, Branimir Kvartuc had the best equipment and access to be in the right position to tell a story.Photos from Kvartuc's exhibit can be viewed here. His blog is here. If you were planning on being out in L.A. anytime soon, though, the exhibit already ran its course.
With this show, he has Stripped his resources Bare. No Credentials. No Assignment. No professional camera. Kvartuc, armed with only an iPhone camera, managed to capture landscapes, worm his way into closed-to-the-public events and delve deeply into the emotions of individuals.
Take away the large camera that shoots 12 frames per second and a tie to familiar news outlet and you are left with a photographer attempting to record a poignant moment on a two megapixel cell phone camera that takes one photo every 12 seconds.
"I never liked taking photos when I was not working." Kvartuc said. "As a professional, I usually have a credential hanging from my neck and large,somewahat intimidating cameras and lenses. It becomes very easy for the person behind the camera to feel a certain authority, a comfort level with invading someone's personal space by pointing a camera at them."
For the "Stripped. Bare." show, Kvartuc was now the one who was inimidated. He often had to ask for permission to get close enough to capture something valuable. That meant he had to start a conversation, he had to earn their trust so he could get a disarming, authentic still.
Our various gadgets are increasingly being consolidated into one device that combine their multiple functions. Phone, photos, voice recordings, even video right in the palm of the hand, in one unit. Granted, iPhones and some BlackBerries are pricey up front, in addition to their service plans. However, I think it would be a wise thing for newsrooms to swallow the initial expense to supply such equipment for their staff so they can get creative in how they gather and report the news that matters to its costumers.
I think an exhibit like Kvartuc's illustrates some of where the "new media" road is taking us. Do I think professional photographers with expensive, top-of-the-line equipment will go the way of the dinosaurs? I certainly hope not. But it shows off what a reporter equipped with some quality, relatively inexpensive gear and some basic photography know-how could — realistically — be expected to accomplish in addtion to his/her regular duties.