Hipstamatics in the war…

New York Times
November 21, 2010, 10:51 PM

Finding the Right Tool to Tell a War Story


Does it really matter what camera Damon Winter used to make these beautifully composed images? I don’t think so. It’s the images that are important.

Whenever possible, I avoid writing about camera gear. The photographer takes the picture, not the equipment. Few people care what kind of typewriter Hemingway used.

A Year at War

James Dao and Damon Winter continue following the men and women of First Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division.

But it happens that Mr. Winter quickly realized — after trying a few shots — that his iPhone would be an effective way to capture the day-to-day trials of the First Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division in northern Afghanistan.

“Composing with the iPhone is more casual and less deliberate,” Mr. Winter said. “And the soldiers often take photos of each other with their phones, so they were more comfortable than if I had my regular camera.”

Mr. Winter even found himself taking a few iPhone pictures during firefights while he was shooting video with his single-lens reflex (a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, as long as we’re on the subject). The Hipstamatic app forced him to wait about 10 seconds between photos, so each one had to count.

Of course, Mr. Winter’s focus was not on equipment. It was on the tedium faced by the battalion’s men and women, occasionally punctuated by intense fighting. He said, “These are long grueling days that are not pretty, not sexy, that the soldiers get through as best as they can.”