Pocket & palm photography: New frames of social witnessing


Just over a month since I last gave a public presentation at the American Centre, I spoke today (along with Anush and Iromi from The Picture Press) around the evolution of smartphone photography – calling it ‘Pocket and palm photography’ (download high quality PDF here).

I quickly went through a history of photographic technology from film to digital, and within digital, from the digital camera to phones with increasingly sophisticated optics. Building on this incredible evolution in technology, I explored key dynamics of an explosive global and local growth in smartphone photography. I then flagged the democratisation of photographic production, dissemination and consumption, the ubiquity of geo-tagged photos that is largely the result of smartphone cameras, the growth in smartphone camera apps and sophisticated software filters, the immediacy and ease with which anyone with a mobile Internet connection could share photos, the vastly reduced cost of production and as a result of increasingly inexpensive smartphone availability, the prevalence of photography amongst youth, and even younger children.

In some detail, I then explored some of the implications of these developments, and then flagged several key Sri Lankan examples of smartphone photographic platforms and communities (around, for example, Instagram) and what they chose to focus on.

Finally, I looked into the near future and submitted that what we took for granted as the capabilities of smartphone cameras today would tomorrow be worn or biometrically implanted, leading to vital questions around privacy, ethics and rights in an age where photographing was omnipresent.

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