Monroe, Georgia is a small, old cotton town that sits between Atlanta, an hour west, and Athens, a half-hour to the east. Most travellers wouldn’t consider Monroe to be a destination in itself; merely a pit stop on the way to the state’s more populated cities, and nothing else. Stephanie Calabrese, Monroe resident and documentary photographer, sees the town a bit differently.
For Calabrese, this Southern town is incredibly interesting, making a perfect subject for her photography. From the town’s Civil War re-enactments to its widespread outdoor culture, its historic building that have since been repurposed as antique shops and local businesses, Calabrese’s Monroe is “historic, homely, handsome, even bucolic in places – and well worth attention for its unique contribution to the American story,” reads a report from The New York Times.
Calabrese’s black-and-white project, entitled “Hometown: A Documentary of Monroe, Georgia” shows a passionate, loving, and melancholic view of the town, from the photographer’s inside perspective. And the most extraordinary part of “Hometown” may be that she created the entire project using an iPhone – which was subsequently shared by Apple VP Phil Schiller on Twitter.
While the number of photographers using smartphones and their applications to create beautiful and powerful images continues to grow, seeing this dedication and ability through a smartphone is still incredibly interesting and “fresh,” more so than the everyday snaps seen on social media. Interestingly enough, she has taken many of these pictures in passing while driving, trying to get somewhere.
Calabrese is not new to iPhone photography, however. In 2010, she wrote “The Art of iPhoneography: A Guide to Mobile Creativity,” published by Ilex Press in Britain and Sterling Publishing in the United States, which has sold more than 100,000 copies and has been translated into 10 languages. She also teaches iPhone photography to both children and adults. “She has been shooting with her iPhone (whatever the latest incarnation) for her documentary work, both personal and client, ever since,” reads the report.
Calabrese does have some tips when it comes to iPhone photography. “I always shoot with the native camera app on the iPhone to get the highest resolution possible,” she said. “Most of the black-and-white conversion was done using the Photoshop app. All shooting and editing for these images was done on my iPhone. Portraying this series in black and white felt right as it helped me connect a variety of scenes and subject matter to give the viewer a cohesive look at this place. I like that it feels timeless and gives a nod to our past. Between black and white, you’ll find many shades of gray.”