Damon Winter and the Iphone

Damon Winter was born in Elmira, NY, on Dec. 24, 1974. He has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Columbia University. Damon Winter joined the staff of The New York Times in May 2007 and he has also worked for The Dallas Morning News, Newsweek and Magnum Photos. Moreover, Winter has covered conflicts and stories in Israel, Afghanistan, New York, Vietnam, Cuba, Russia and India.

In 2011, Damon Winter won the third place for feature picture story from Pictures of the Year International with photographs taken on an iPhone using the Hipstamatic app. The story was called “A Grunt’s Life” and it was a feature story following the First Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division in northern Afghanistan.

Although there is a debate about whether mobile phone use in photojournalism is correct, Damon Winter said that this was the right tool to tell this particular story.

Specialist Nicholas Holman spent his time fiddling with his tactical knife. “A Grunt’s Life” by: Damon Winter. http://www.poyi.org/68/17/third_11.php

Specialist Nicholas Holman spent his time fiddling with his tactical knife. “A Grunt’s Life” by: Damon Winter. http://www.poyi.org/68/17/third_11.php

“At the heart of all of these photos is a moment or a detail or an expression that tells the story of these soldiers’ day to day lives while on a combat mission”.”Using the phone is discreet and casual and unintimidating,” Damon Winter said.

According to him, using this phone he saw little details that he would have missed otherwise. For example, the image of the men resting together on a rusted bed frame could never have been made with my regular camera. “They would have scattered the moment I raised my 5D with a big 24-70 lens attached. But with the phone, the men were very comfortable,” Damon Winter explained.

Damon Winter defends the use of mobiles in the photojournalism as a tool that he can use at specific moments. However, the rules that a photojournalist should follow are the same that with other camera: do not modify the essential elements of the photo, care for the composition and consider the language of photography to tell a story. Therefore, if the phone at a specific time helps you can use it but you should always keep in mind that you’re a photojournalist.

Corporal Raul Canto covered the tree line as soldiers from Delta Company 2nd Platoon cleared an exit out of Nahr-i-Sufi during a mission in the Taliban-held village. “A Grunt’s Life” by: Damon Winter. http://www.poyi.org/68/17/third_01.php

Corporal Raul Canto covered the tree line as soldiers from Delta Company 2nd Platoon cleared an exit out of Nahr-i-Sufi during a mission in the Taliban-held village. “A Grunt’s Life” by: Damon Winter. http://www.poyi.org/68/17/third_01.php

“People may have the impression that it is easy to make interesting images with a camera app like this, but it is not the case. At the heart of every solid image are the same fundamentals: composition, information, moment, emotion, connection.  If people think that this is a magic tool, they are wrong. Of hundreds of images taken with the phone over those six days in Nahr-i-Sufi, only a handful were worth reproducing”, Winter explained.

Damon Winter is an example of how we can use the new technologies, as the iPhone, in the photojournalism. This photographer used his mobile because he thought that this was the correct way in a specific moment and his essay has been recognized with an international award.

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