Point and shoot

Ready to be awed? Close to 400 million photographs are posted daily on Facebook, which doesn’t shake a stick at the 11 billion photos that have been uploaded to image-based sites such as Flickr and Instagram. People, places and nature are prime targets for a new trend that has changed not only the art of photography, but also the entire industry thanks to a fast-growing and thriving new trend being tabbed as mobile photography.

Uncensored published photography is something every one of us in hospitality lives with. Anyone with a smartphone is able to capture and immediately share images, and in some cases, get paid for sharing them.

Self-taught photographers are not only uploading mesmerizing images of sites that in some cases would challenge some of the world-renowned photographs taken of the wonders of the world, they are naturally on the lookout for famous travel bloopers. This new breed of point-and-shoot photographers may surprise audiences with their breathtaking skills to capture some downright fabulous property shots, but the double-edged sword is they are also very fond of capturing and publishing pictures that could very well deter business at a hotel, restaurant or any business establishment. Possessing a major desire to be as discreet as possible and to “blend in” in order to capture pictures of unexpected and vulnerable moments is simply a newfound high for many and is almost impossible to prevent. However, with that said and more than ever, now is the time to make sure every lobby bathroom is on a routine cleaning schedule and that all front-of-the-house venues are frequently scanned for clutter and debris guests have left behind.

As I conducted this week’s research on mobile photography, I discovered how smartphone photography has affected many professionals who are feeling severe scar damage to their income. An Emmy-winning visual journalist and UC Berkeley photography professor validated one of the beauties of mobile photography, which is that no one notices when you’re shooting via a smartphone while a DSLR creates a tremendous amount of attention. In addition, speed is a key benefit, and all that is required is for your photo apps to be left open at all times so you can shoot fast, edit on the spot and immediately upload. The U.S. presidential election, Super Bowl, Oscars and Hurricane Sandy all are prime examples of photo-sharing platforms capturing live images in real time.

Another concern is the controversy over whether an Instagram account and an eye for square framing and filters (let alone hashtags) truly qualifies you as a professional photographer, and it is quite apparent the topic has become heated. Bloggers love the new crop of talent, but the traditionalists who lug around the heavy, oversized equipment are challenged by the pocked-sized equipment carriers and often are livid the mobile phone addicts are affecting their income and tarnishing the image of their tight-knit industry.

My favorite example of a related incident is that of a photojournalist who works for the New York Times, and while reporting from the front lines of Afghanistan, he enlisted his iPhone along with Hipstamatic filters to document the war. Fast-forward and take a guess who earned an award from the prestigious Pictures of the Year International?

Also, awards shows dedicated to honoring smartphone images — the Mobile Photography Awards and the iPhone Photography Awards — are two examples validating the growth and acclaim these pictures are earning.

So what is your take on mobile photography? Is this trend simply a prime example of “times have changed”” Are people just getting caught up on the word “professional”? And most importantly, have you or your property ever been the target of an unknown point-and-shoot photographer, and if so, was the end result positive or negative?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, questions or candid experiences.