Where this all began - by Marc Forrest
I first came across the concept of “iPhoneography” in about 2009 after I purchased a photo book online by a chap named Chase Jarvis from the US. His book, aptly named “The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You” had recently been released in conjunction with an app Chase had developed called “Best Camera”. The Book & App showcased a number of photos he had taken on his Apple iPhone and showed how we can simply take out our phone, snap an image ANYWHERE, and publish it almost immediately.
In around 2010/2011 the novelty of Instagram was just starting to gain popularity and I had a vision of how we could potentially start showcasing these. My idea was to take some of the best photos that had been posted to Instagram, print them and hang them up somewhere for people to see. Little did I know that my “vision” would become a huge reality with the help of some fantastic people.
I decided one day in May 2011 on a whim one day to mail the head of Marketing at iStore. We had interacted once or twice on social channels, and with the new iPhone 4s, with its upgraded camera features, having been launched recently this would be an ideal opportunity to try and do something together.
As luck would have it the iStore team loved the idea and suggested we take my simple concept and blow it up by 10000x and have a full on exhibition. Everyone was super excited about the concept and after a couple months of planning, minimal sleep and looking at hundreds of amazing images, we had our official opening night of iPhoneography SA exhibitions on the 1st September 2011 at iStore in Sandton. The evening was a HUGE success and the feedback we got from both visitors and exhibitors was literally overwhelming. Our first exhibition had 420 entries and around 200 images on display. This was a dream come true.
And with the success of 2011, we were super excited, and admittedly scared, to do another one the following year. Excited because this was something unique and had gained huge success and popularity, but scared because “what if we can’t top this one…?”
The wheels were in place for 2012, and with our experience and knowledge gained from the first exhibition we launched our 2012 exhibitions in both Johannesburg & Cape Town. This time we doubled our entries and close to 1000 entries entered and had 182 images showcased in Joburg & 120 at the Cape Town exhibition which was held at the beautiful Roodebloom studios in Woodstock.
By the time 2013 came along we had learnt a lot, and while we decided to try and keep it simple as possible, the following of iPhoneography in South Africa had exploded. We had over 2500 entries and moved the Cape Town exhibition to the amazing Woodstock Exchange centre. The venue was hugely popular and some of the best iPhone photography the country had seen in years. All in all, we had around 475 images on display between Joburg & Cape Town, and over 1000 people attending each of the events.
Similarly, in 2014, the concept had grown to a huge audience and we saw over 5200 entries entered and 450 images on display. The entertainment at the launch evenings was an additional highlight and in 2014 we had Beatenburg entertaining us and crowds kept rolling in.
By 2015 the team at iStore had a dedicated team within the Marketing department that focused solely on the iPhoneography exhibitions for a few months of the year, and partnered with the likes of Gareth Cliff & Timo ODV for some fantastic entertainment at the events, which had become a “must-attend” event on the annual social scene. The entries for 2015 came very close to 8500 entries making an estimated total of around 17500 entries of the 5 years of exhibitions.
iPhoneography and mobile photography in general has exploded over the last 5 years, and has become a mainstream focus with a number of people becoming Instagram celebrities. As we move into a new phase of this art form, I am honestly excited to see what else we can achieve. I know it’s definitely going to keep growing and become even more special as time goes on!