As more and more images proliferate our culture, so do more and more image-making devices. Where photography has long been hailed as the everyman art form, the sheer multitude of cameras present in an area at any given moment is unprecedented. With the advent of cameras integrated into mobile devices, suddenly we’ve reached an era of relentless recording.
For celebrities, there’s no safe place where cell phones won’t be whipped out, interceding between fan and hero. For private venues, the challenge of preventing mobile device recording is insurmountable. So many people raise their multifunctioning gadgets in lieu of even point-and-shoot cameras that our cultural history is being written with apps.
Where this technology simply provides convenience for most people, it has created new opportunities for professional photographers. More professional photographers are turning to their smartphones and tablets to create less constrained imagery. Where the native software available on mobile devices is certainly competent, it doesn’t have much pizazz and relies on additional postproduction. So the photo industry responded to the need with a range of mobile platform applications for consumers. Initially, there were fun apps that created specific looks or mimicked old films, but more recently, professional-grade touch-screen apps have risen to the forefront of in-device photo manipulation.
The potential for mobile device and app photography was so intriguing to photographer Douglas Sonders that he approached Nik Software about working with them on a professional project that would take advantage of the functionality of Snapseed. Sonders, a well-established, very controlled photographer, wanted to simplify his photography. He wanted to pursue something that no one had done and push the boundaries of creating professional images with only mobile technology.
The subject that he chose to photograph aligned with his approach. He wanted to go behind the scenes of the anonymous, hero-of-the-everyman lucha libre fighters who are sweeping the world. Their insistence on maintaining their mystique and hiding their identities makes them difficult subjects. Although his contacts knew that Sonders was a professional photographer, he didn’t exactly look like one entering the venues only with an iPad in hand.
"People were actually more curious about it and let me in because I wasn’t carrying a big camera," Sonders explains. "They were more receptive when I wanted to photograph something."
Sonders, a well-established, very controlled photographer, wanted to simplify his photography. He wanted to pursue something that no one had done and push the boundaries of creating professional images with only mobile technology.
Where the fighters of the lucha libre world are colorful and vibrant characters in the ring, behind the scenes they’re reverent of traditions and refuse to be photographed when unmasked. It was something that Sonders was very aware of, and he worked to ensure he respected their boundaries. But approaching fighters and events with only his iPad garnered curiosity instead of avoidance, and he was able to go places that would have been blocked to a standard photographer.