[Exclusive] New Doc 'Brave New Camera' Explores How Smartphone Photography Is Changing the World

Watch exclusive clips from Avery McCarthy's new film about how phone cameras are shifting the cultural landscape.

by Becky Chung
20 April 2015, 4:00pm

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Whether it's of themselves, a work of art, a plate of food, a natural vista—or literally anything else—at this very moment, someone in the world is snapping a photo on their phone. Humans created an estimated one trillion images in 2014, a direct result of the growth of photo-sharing technologies such as Instagram and Snapchat. This translates to more photos per minute, in fact, than in the entire 19th century. Compared to that of even a few years ago, today's photography is a whole new animal: the ways in which we capture, upload, collect, save, share, “like” images, and more, are drastically shaping who we are and will be as a species.

Enter Brave New Camera, a new documentary that aims to provide a macroscopic view of how digital photography—via internet-connected phones—is evolving cultural and social landscapes. With an IndieGogo campaign in tow, creators Avery McCarthy, Kara Hayden, and team plan to travel to different parts of the world to pinpoint how this phenomenon is affecting change globally. Today, The Creators Project presents exclusive clips that focus in on the ways in which communication and identity are developing alongside smartphone camera technology.

“If we are going to talk about how cameras are used now, this is it,” Avery McCarthy tells The Creators Project. “The professional and fine-art applications of the camera are so minuscule statistically that the scale of this phenomenon has become the motivation.” Three years ago, McCarthy recalls speaking with the film’s co-creator Kara Hayden about the craft of photography shifting from analog to digital mediums. As time passed, it became apparent that a new conversation was emerging: cameras were being used in an unprecedented way.

McCarthy, a photographer at heart, began within a high school program, messing around in the dark room. After college, he moved onto crafting music and commercial videos. “People gravitate towards using their camera because language is really imperfect and difficult to construct,” he says. “It takes a lot of time and skill to describe something accurately and convey a feeling.” Ultimately, he settled on the documentary format in order to delve more deeply into the burgeoning digital photography medium.

With Brave New Camera, McCarthy, Hayden, and their team are working to find compelling ways to depict creation and engagement with smartphones. “Our biggest challenge right now is to create a story that doesn't feature an hour and a half of people looking at phones,” he says. They’re planning to diversify their footage by searching out stories from all over the world.

McCarthy also explains that they are making the film in order to better understand what is going on with how our technology is changing us. “I think that at the very least video and imagery will more deeply intertwine with language as an entire generation grows up with high quality cell phone cameras and image communication platforms,” he explains.

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Following up their March 24th discussion panel at the School of Visual Arts, the Brave New Camera team will be holding a series of intimate conversations in conjunction with the final few days of the Indiegogo campaign. You can visit Wallplay gallery, the Hole in the next few days to witness conversations with Romke Hoogwaerts, a freelance photo editor for The New York Times Magazine, Andrew Mendelson, Associate Dean and Professor of Journalism at CUNY, and more, from April 20 - 23. 

All events are at 6:30pm:

Monday, 4/20 Lyle Rexer, Writer and Critic @ Wallplay, 118 Orchard St.

Tuesday, 4/21 Romke Hoogwaerts, Photo Editor @ The New York Times Magazine @ The Hole, 312 Bowery

Wednesday, 4/22 Andrew Mendelson, Associate Dean and Professor of Journalism @ CUNY @ Wallplay, 118 Orchard St.

Thursday, 4/23 Laura O'Reilly, CEO @ Wallplay & Avery McCarthy, Director of Brave New Camera, @ Wallplay, 118 Orchard St.


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exclusive clip
Avery McCarthy
Brave New Camera