Photographer Ben Lowy Documents War on His iPhone
When Ben Lowy got his first assignment, he scrambled to the Gaza Strip without a camera, having to buy one there. These days, he doesn’t really need to worry about one anymore.
The professional photographer was an early adopter of mobile phone photography, before the photo-sharing app Instagram became a staple for the industry. Lowy was one of a handful of pros who helped pave the way for other photographers to be taken seriously if they use their iPhone for a picture. In fact, Lowy is the first photographer to have an iPhone image featured on the cover of a mainstream magazine. The image below, taken during Hurricane Sandy, was published in Time.
After’s Lowy’s first assignment in Gaza, his work in war-time photography would bring him to conflict-torn countries throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Asia too. In 2003, he covered the Iraq war while embedded with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division. “One of the things that I discovered early on when I was in Iraq—and I spent six years going back and forth—was that people here in the West got overwhelmed with the dearth of images,” Lowy told CNN. “After two years, the images looked so [similar]… people just didn’t want to see it.”
During the six years he spent documenting the war, Lowy began to experiment with mobile phone photography—starting off with a Sony Erikson K750. Through a cell phone, Lowy tried to cut through the apathy that a war-weary nation had developed on the homefront.
“It produced images in a visual style that people weren’t used to seeing. That is important to me. There is so much information out there these days, and its very hard to capture the attention of…an apathetic public,” Lowy shared in an interview with photo blog EyeEm. “By showing important images of a war or social issue to people using a unique aesthetic, I believe I can capture their attention and shine a light on some of these stories.”
That’s precisely what he started to do in 2010, when Lowy began sharing images filed from Afghanistan and Libya. (See some of his work from the North African country below.)
Today, that’s largely what he’s known for—his Instagram work. But, Lowy has spent the last decade experimenting with a variety of subjects, as he did with the medium of mobile phone photography when it just began. Peruse Lowy’s vibrant Instagram feed here.