So many people are taking so many pictures thanks to the iPhone. And yet, renowned filmmaker and photographer Wim Wenders says photography is “more dead than ever.”
“The trouble with iPhone pictures is nobody sees them,” Wenders said in a recent BBC video interview during an exhibit of his Polaroid photos. “Even the people who take them don’t look at them anymore, and they certainly don’t make prints.”
Wenders, whose impressive film credits include Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire, may sound like a grouchy old analog type. But given his celebrated creativity, his points about photography in the smartphone era are worth considering.
On Instagram alone, users upload 60 million photos a day. Photography historians have sounded the alarm on how few of these images ever see the surface of digital photo paper.
Camera apps and filters hinder smartphone photography
Apps and filters are also nails in the art form’s coffin, according to Wenders. He sees software and algorithms as hindering creativity.
“I know from experience that the less you have, the more creative you have to become,” said Wenders. He earned an Academy Award nomination for his documentary The Salt of the Earth about documentary photographer Sebastião Salgado.
There is nothing wrong with pictures from a smartphone camera. And Wenders admits he takes selfies. But creating images with a phone camera should not be called photography, he said.
“I’m in search of a new word for this new activity that looks so much like photography but isn’t photography anymore,” he said.