On January 24th, 1955, The Musuem of Modern Art in New York opened a new exhibition entitled The Family of Man.
The show as curated by famed photographer Edward Steichen and featured the work of some of the world's best photojournalist; people such as Diane Arbus, Eve Arnold, Henir Cartier Bresson and more than 200 others.
The photographs were powerful, owing largely to the rise of small hand-held cameraa such as the Leica, which had become the workhorse of photo journalists since their invention in the 1930s. The Leicas, among others, changed the nature of photography. Now, for the first time, photo journalists could get close to their subjects, freed from large format cameras, tripods and the need to light.
As a result, photojournalism was completely re-invented. It became more intimate, more honest and far more compelling.
With the MoMA's Family of Man Exhibition it became something else - it became ART.
Now, Glasgow artist Charoltte Prodger has been awarded the presigious Turner Prize for films she has made on an iPhone.
What MoMA and Edward Steichen did for Leica photo journalism, the Turner Prize has done for iPhone video -taken it from merely capturing and representing events to creating fine art in this relatively new medium of video.
The invention of the Leica and 35mm film was transformational for photography, Prior to Leica, photo journalists were burdened with large, bulky and complicated cameras which shot on sheet film. The images were technically perfect, but the size and weight of the cameras severely constricted the relationship of the photographer ot the subject. Small, hand-held still cameras freed photographers and allowed them to work in a completely new way. intimacy and immedicacy were now possible, and the very look of the work altered with a different way of working. Craft had been transposed into fine art.
iPhones and smartphones afford us the same opportunity to re-invent video journalism, but only if we use those tools in a different way as well.
We should stop thinking of iPhone video as simply an easier and less expensive way to do what CNN and everyone else does, but instead create new and bold video expressions and ways of capturing and communicating images and emotions.
The Turner Prize for video shot on an iPhone is a great first step.
There are many more to take now.
An interview with Charlotte Prodger