Art Beat: iArt

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January 30, 2012
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie
Layne Kennedy’s Hipstamatic iPhone shots on display at Mpls Photo Center

Veteran photographer Layne Kennedy captured an image of a ship in Bar Harbor, Maine that looked like it could have graced the pages of “Moby Dick.”

The seascape has an eerie, old-world quality and a gritty frame. He shot the picture using the iPhone Hipstamatic app — a tool he has fallen in love with to capture vivid scenes he comes across on his travels.

“If I had shot [the ship] with a regular camera it would have been too clean, too perfect — less spontaneous,” he said. “I think that is one of the beauties of that particular app — it allows the spontaneity to really come through because it looks that way. It’s the garage band look of photography.”

Kennedy has a collection of his iPhone shots on display at the Mpls Photo Center called “The Art of iPhone.” The photos showcase slices of life all over the country and throughout Minnesota, including the Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota and a crooked barn in the southeastern corner of the state.

Kennedy has also self-published a book of his iPhone images called “Snap” via Blurb.com. He plans on publishing a photo book each year to highlight his favorite shots.

The Minneapolis-based photographer has been published in dozens of publications around the world, including the Smithsonian, the New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Sports Illustrated and Forbes, among others. He also has four solo books, including one on ice fishing culture in North America and Russia and another one on paddling in the BWCA/Quetico.

Kennedy founded the Superior/Gunflint Photography Workshops —  outdoor adventures that include dogsledding and kayaking in Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands. He also teaches photography at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais and at the Mpls Photo Center.

For much of his work he uses a Nikon, but his iPhone has become a favorite creative tool that is easy to use and portable. “That’s the beauty of it — the instantaneous nature of it,” he said. “The photo becomes a window to a memory.”

In a promotional piece about his new show, his images are described as “moments that called out to him, neither forced or waited for. … It’s gut photography and the job of being unburdened using only the most basic of his equipment, an iPhone.”

Iphoneography has become widely popular with apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram giving people a chance to edit shots with fun filters and share images instantly via social media. It’s also increasingly gaining legitimacy among professional photographers.

Kennedy is teaching a course called “Art with the iPhone” in May at the Mpls Photo Center. Students will contribute shots to a book and have photos featured in an exhibition for the June Northern Spark Festival.

As for tips for experimenting with iPhone photography, he advises people to follow their instincts.

“Don’t try to be somebody else,” he said. “Shoot the things that make you feel something. Those who appreciate it will have a connection with you that you both can understand. That’s the beauty of art.”


Go see it
Layne Kennedy’s show, “The Art of iPhone,” is on display at the Mpls Photo Center, 2400 N. 2nd St., through
Feb. 26. The center is open daily, noon–6 p.m. To see a slideshow of his iPhone photos, go to thejournalmpls.tumblr.com.