One of my friends was just painstakingly scanning pictures she took recently with a disposable camera (I'm not kidding – it was very 1995). Lucas Kane is on the other end of the spectrum: taking, retouching, and uploading his pictures to the internet, all from his mobile phone. His book pHone pHotos is comprised of these pictures, many so vivid and detailed that he's often asked, "Did you really take this with your phone?" Kane's book also incorporates Tags. I spoke to Kane recently about mobile photography, mobile tagging, and why he picked Tag.
Mobile photography is a whole new animal, Kane said – it's really simple to take a picture, post-process it with an app, and upload it (or email it to yourself). Plus, since so much sharing is done via the internet, huge file sizes aren't really necessary. While point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras require things like memory cards, batteries, chargers, and cables, mobile phone photography can be done with just your phone. You don't even need a laptop.
Kane gets a lot of questions about his photos, from incredulously asking if he took them with a phone to wondering which model. "Tag is a way to say, 'Yes, I took it with a phone, and here's how I took it,'" Kane says. He's using Tag to educate people about things like how to take the photo, where it was taken, and how to add effects like changing the border or making the image black and white. Everyone is curious about art, and his pictures make people look at their phones in a different way – while linking them to the information behind it with Tags. "There's more personal interaction," Kane says. "Tag allows you to interact with an image in a way you never have before."
The book's Tags take the reader to more info on each picture, as well as Kane's vCard, his Facebook, and to a gallery of the book's images online. The most popular Tag is the one that lets you view the images on your phone, Kane says. "It's a way of carrying art around with you in your pocket." Another popular Tag is the one for the cover image, a photo of mysterious black-and-white shadows, because people are curious what it is.
"The way you can create custom Tags I think is amazing, with your own logo or your own color scheme," Kane says. Thanks to the customizability, people who don't recognize Tags just think they're his logo, with the dots as some sort of graffiti effect. He incorporates his logo – simple grayscale initials – into every Tag. The one on the back of his business card links to his vCard. "The Tag is really part of my logo now; it’s part of my brand," he says.
So how have his readers responded to Tag? Kane says they fall into two categories: people who already know what 2D barcodes are and use them a lot, or people who haven't discovered them yet. But everybody’s inquisitive, he says, and once people realize what it is, they get really excited. The overall theme? "I didn’t know you could do that with a phone!"
Check out Kane's phone photos on his blog and website, and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Tag’s Facebook or Twitter pages.
All photography copyright Lucas Kane.