June 26, 2017

Enjoying the iPhone as a Tool for Creative Expression: Elise Swopes at the 64th Chicago Chapter Meetup of CreativeMornings

Of the many uses of the iPhone, its utility as a powerful piece of the creative individual’s toolkit is undeniable. At the April 2017 gathering of the Chicago chapter of CreativeMornings, Elise Swopes affirmed her fascination with the iPhone, especially as a camera. Specializing in photography and design, Swopes, who calls herself a mobile artist, adopted the iPhone as her go-to tool for self-expression. Her massively followed Instagram feed is a rich diet in magical realism, covering the amazing diversity of terrain, from nature to the built environment—in several instances, an element of the curious is imaginatively inserted. While writing this recap, I tended to spell her last name as Swipes, considering the gestural mobile interfaces of our times.

The first generation of the iPhone was launched on June 29, 2007. In January of the same year, Steve Jobs made a rippling announcement:
“This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for two-and-a-half years. Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. And Apple has been—well, first of all, one’s very fortunate if you get to work on just one of these in your career. Apple’s been very fortunate. It’s been able to introduce a few of these into the world. 1984, introduced the Macintosh. It didn’t just change Apple. It changed the whole computer industry. In 2001, we introduced the first iPod, and it didn’t just change the way we all listen to music, it changed the entire music industry. Well, today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device. So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet communications device. An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone…are you getting it? These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone. Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone…”
The iPhone has both democratized and diversified access to photography and its craft. Swopes represents one of the billions of people who find prolific play in the iPhone’s ease of photography. With each new model, there are improvements—increased megapixels, additional sensors, robust software, better lenses, and more. By its iterative design and engineering, the iPhone naturally (and expectedly) ascended to the status of “the world’s most popular camera.” Swopes recognized the privilege to be born into an era that included the invention of the iPhone, a device whose major affordance was to incite creativity. There are rants here and there of mobile phones wildly killing creativity. But Swopes remains positively defiant in perceiving and practicing her usage of the iPhone as a means to follow her creative instincts—having fun in taking advantage of the creativity-charged toolkit of her time. Cheerfully declaring herself as an iPhone Photographer, not an “iPhoneographer.”

In Swopes’ case, as with countless other users, the iPhone is the most delightful tool in her world. A tool to create, no different than a stone, a tree branch, in one’s primordial hands. Most of all, an instrument that equips her, even encouraging her, to make the time to look and take a picture—something made that was worth making.

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In her article “How Apple’s iPhone changed the world: 10 years in 10 charts” for technology news publisher Recode, data editor Rani Molla wrote, “The iPhone transformed photography from a hobby to a part of everyday life.” Check out too Apple’s Web-based series, consisting of less-than-a-minute videos set to chillaxing beats, about how to take optimal photographs with their iPhone 7.

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Big thanks: to AgencyEA, Entertainment CruisesOdyssey Chicago (who hosted), Green SheepLyft Chicago, for being Partners of Chicago CreativeMornings #64; to new organizer Jen Marquez who accepted the chapter’s hosting responsibilities from Knoed Creative who spoke at Chicago CreativeMornings #7; to the team of volunteers for greatly helping to have CreativeMornings happen monthly in Chicago.

Especially big thanks: to Tina Roth Eisenberg—Swissmiss—for inventing CreativeMornings in 2008.

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Read more CreativeMornings coverage.

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2011 was Chicago CreativeMornings’ debut year. Download the entire collection of selected insights.

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