Taking Phoney Pics

Couplets from my phone

It has been suggested by more than one observer that the smartphone is (among other things) the Kodak Brownie of our age. It has popularized photography like no innovation since the Brownie, putting the tools to visually capture and share moments in the hands of billions.

Besides re-invigorating vernacular photography, it has for me and many others re-invigorated street photography. Like most people, my phone is the camera I have with me wherever I am and so becomes the ideal tool for photographing random and unexpected moments one finds by simply walking around in public.

As with all genres of photography, there are self-appointed guardians of tradition and propriety who develop rules for others to follow, taking the end product rather than the preceding process of experimentation and innovation as their guide. My own interest in street photography was inspired by pioneers and masters such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein, and Daido Moriyama.

While my attempts to emulate their work with a classic set-up (Leica M2 and black & white film) were fun and instructive, they were ultimately a creative dead end. I decided the downside of following the rules outweighed the benefits.

Now I have a couple different approaches to street photography, including using my Android phone…


A few years ago I switched to my first Android phone, retiring my beloved Palm Centro. I looked around for a good photo app and someone suggested Vignette. I was immediately taken with it because its icon is the image of an old Diana toy camera.

When I got back into photography in 2007 after a long absence, it was with old Diana toy cameras. On its toy camera setting, the app does a very good job of replicating the look of the Diana and that’s the setting it’s on all the time for me, as I continue to define street photography for myself.


Click for a (nearly) daily tumblr feed of Phoney Diana Pics