I recently posted a link to a Foreign Policy web page with some very strong pictures of the war in Afghanistan. Besides being excellent pictures, the unusual characteristic of the pictures was that they were made with an iPhone using the popular Hipstamatic app. Elise Fullam asked, "This is amazing stuff... Do Hipstamatic's visual effects violate the ethics of photojournalism purists?" This issue here is that Hipstamatic does not pretend to be anywhere close to reality in terms of color and tonal range. Indeed, it purposely distorts what the standard iPhone camera app delivers. So the question Fullam is posing assumes that photojournalism should be as real as possible--shouldn't it? Though some might disagree with me, I am going to say Balazs Gardi's pictures do not violate photojournalism ethics by choosing the distorting effects of the Hipstamatic application. Here is why. I have been around long enough to know that there is no such thing as technical accuracy in photography. Back in the day when people shot transparencies, every film on the market had a characteristic "look." Kodachromes were warmer in tone than Ektachromes. Fujichromes had their distinctive look, etc. Both black and white and color films had different grain structures so to some extent the look of the finished photography had much to do with film selection. Then there is the interaction of the developer with the film. Rodinal and Tri-X produced lots of grain but it was very sharp grain. Other developers produced a more smooth grain. Of course the choice of black and white film over color, or vice versa, is a creative choice that greatly affects the communication quality of a photograph. Further, lens selection also affects the picture. The point is that there have always been a large number of variables open to a photographer's choice that greatly influence the communication from a photograph. Indeed, some combination of these variables, along with the preferred manner of working, define a photographer's style. The Hipstamatic effect produces a more gritty picture, reducing the elements within the square frame to their barest simplicity. I think this is why many photographers love to experiment with this app. When you use this app, you are not concerned with tonal range or accurate color balance. You are able to concentrate on what is in the frame with little worry about anything else needed to make a technically superior picture. The gritty, barebones pictures fit the subject matter of war. Further this app makes it easy to publish directly to Facebook. I think Gardi did a terrific job as a journalist. He shows how effective the simplest equipment can be--a cell phone--to make serious pictures that effectively communicate. Effective communication is the essence of photojournalism, not particular equipment or methods or style. Let me hear what you think.