Fine art from an iPhone? The best Instagram photos from 2014

Story highlights

Out of the Phone is the first publisher to focus on mobile photography exclusively

A new anthology highlights 100 of the best Instagram pictures of 2014

Founder Pierre Le Govic aims to showcase both amateur and professional photographers

CNN  — 

Gone are the days of the grainy camera phone images with the resolution of a poor imitation Monet. Today’s smartphone cameras are so advanced that mobile photography is becoming an art form in its own right, turning photo-sharing apps like Instagram into portable galleries for amateur photographers, and professionals like street style photographer Tommy Ton and chief official White House photographer Pete Souza.

“You have the dark room in your pocket,” says Pierre Le Govic, the Paris-based founder of Out of the Phone, the world’s first publishing house dedicated to mobile photography.

This month, Out of the Phone follows its debut publication, last year’s book of mobile photos from two-time Pulitzer Prize-nominated photographer Richard Koci Hernandez, with Out of the Phone: The Mobile Photo Book 2014, a diverse selection of 100 Instagram images taken by users from 25 countries.

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Democratizing photography

Before founding Out of the Phone in 2013, Le Govic ran a fine art photography printing company that counted Daido Moriyama and William Eggleston as clients. He first started following mobile photography on Instagram in 2011, and was surprised and impressed by the quality of work that hobbyists were creating.

“Now there are many well known photographers who use the platform, but at the very beginning, there were many people who didn’t know so much about photography, and these were the kind of people that I wanted to showcase,” he says. “But on the other hand, it was also something confusing because there are too many images.”

The desire to curate what he was seeing, coupled with a longtime ambition to create books, led him to give publishing a try.

Courtesy Out of the Phone

While Le Govic had preselected a number of established photographers to feature in this year’s inaugural anthology (he’s hoping it will become an annual publication), he also gave Instagram users the chance to put themselves up for consideration, using the hashtag #outofthephone to nominate their best works. He was astounded to receive over 20,000 submissions.

What was he looking for in a successful entry? Technical skill was understandably important, but Le Govic says he also sought something less tangible.

“At the end, what is important is the story and the sensibility of the photographer … It’s a mix between a good story, a good composition,” he says. “Photography, for me, is a sort of fresh air, a way to look at things differently. So I’m looking for that sort of feeling when I look at pictures.”

Preserving “moments of grace”

Now that The Mobile Photo Book has been published, Le Govic is looking forward to promoting his concept and expanding. He’s looking to start hiring in the New Year (so far, it’s been a one-man operation), and solicit investors and partners. Several projects are set for release next year, including books from award-winning documentary photographer Benjamin Lowy, and other photographers he believes are using the medium to its fullest.

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“Some images deserve to get to paper because it’s a kind of memory,” he says. “If I can help to keep memory of interesting moments, some moments of grace perhaps…I think it’s interesting to fix them on paper and to alert to people not to forget them.”

Out of the Phone: The Mobile Photo Book 2014 is available for purchase online.

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