Carroll County photographer gets creative with 'iPhoneography'

Phil Grout uses his iPhone to take a picture of an iris
Phil Grout uses his iPhone to take a picture of an iris (Lyndi McNulty, HANDOUT)

Photographer and writer Phil Grout, of Patapsco, is featuring an emerging photograph technique called "iPhoneography" in his current show being held at Birdie's Cafe, at 233 E. Main St. in Westminster.

The show is titled "Number Please?" It is a playful reference to early telephone operators who asked callers for the phone number they wanted to reach. There are 32 images in the show, which will run until July 12, all of which were taken with Grout's cellphone.


"I was attracted by the accessibility of always being able to take a photograph," Grout said of the appeal of iPhoneography. "My camera is always in my pocket."

Since the advent of technology that allows individuals to take high quality photographs with their cellphones, even professional photographers like Grout have embraced the medium.


Grout has been a professional photographer "a year shy of 50 years" he said. He started out as a photojournalist for the U.S. Navy in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968. He became a photographer, reporter and then editor of the Hanover Evening Sun in Westminster until 1974. Then he freelanced for local magazines, newspapers, book publishers and wire services until 1979. He went back to the Hanover Evening Sun as its chief photographer until 1984. Grout has freelanced ever since.

In the 1980s, Grout was a photojournalist for international relief groups in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He took photographs that were used to illustrate articles for public relations purposes.

During the 1990s, he focused primarily on fine art photography — a medium in which the photographer captures an image that reflects his or her artistic style. His work was shown in galleries around the United States.

Most recently, he has freelanced for several newspapers including the Catonsville Times, the Howard County Times, the Columbia Flyer, the Carroll Eagle, the Laurel Leader and the Fort Meade Soundoff!

This past winter, a retrospective of Grout's work featuring 70 of his images was shown at Carroll Community College, in Westminster.

Currently, Grout uses an iPhone 5s for his photography.

"I like the great-quality photographs I can achieve with this medium," he said.

With his cellphone, Grout can convert a photograph into black and white and enhance an image to bring out its detail.

Grout has taken many panoramic photographs with his iPhone. One image in his new show at Birdies Café, titled "Grandfather Ginkgo," is 36- by- 20 inches.

"The size and the clarity of the image is amazing," he said. "It features a carpet of gold Ginkgo leaves."

The show features a series of Carroll County landscapes, a series of birds and an entire room featuring images of his dog, Bo.

The significant thing about the show is that it has taken iPhone photography to a different level," he said. "The images are not snapshots. They are fine art photography."


Grout's website is http://www.philgrout.photoshelter.com.

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmos Art in Westminster. Her column appears on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

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