Tea, cigarettes, and Kalashnikovs: Welcome to Syria
Camera technology has been advancing at such an accelerated rate recently that I’m continually amazed at the size and quality of the devices available — presently and most notably, my iPhone 5. The ability to produce high-quality photos and video at a moment’s notice, then store it all comfortably in my pocket, is fantastic, without even mentioning the fact that I can upload said photos to my social media accounts instantly. Even traveling out of the country, most hotels and hostels (some safe houses too) have wifi now. I can go out, shoot during the day, and upload in my room or on break in a coffeehouse.
I don’t rely on my iPhone to capture everything, but I love it for what it does. I use DSLRs as my primary shooters and the iPhone as a backup. On my journey to Aleppo this past month, I was able to shoot easily and quickly on my phone without drawing a lot of unwanted attention. This is an absolute necessity when I want something candid, or something covert. I hide my cell phone easily at checkpoints, and access it quickly for discreet snapshots during social moments. As I said before, perhaps the most useful aspect of smartphone photography is the ready access to social networking sites, a medium with which much of the world is already familiar.
I find myself wondering if the gravity of the situation in Syria, and the wrenching humanity of the people involved, could be more readily conveyed to the outside world in a truly impactful manner through increased use of this medium.
The below photos were all taken and edited on my iPhone 5 during a week embedded with a Free Syrian Army militia in Aleppo, Syria. Main programs used: Hipstamatic, Instagram, and Snapseed.