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MIT Museum Awards Prizes for Cell Phone Pictures

The Mili-MIT Museum sponspored a photo contest for camera phone images.

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February 7, 2007– Could camera phones be the new tools for art? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum concluded a workshop series, entitled "Take Better Pictures with Your Cell Phone and Win Big," that culminated in a photo contest last week.

"Instead of duplicating a digital camera, embrace the flaws of what it is," said photographer and the workshop instructor Gary Duehr, about cell phone images, in an interview with

The free, two-hour workshops were aimed at teaching both the technical process and artistic perspectives of using cell phone cameras. The workshops consisted of MIT students, staff, and faculty, most of who have never worked with Photoshop.

Despite the fact that average consumer camera phones often have low resolution and limited lens capability, Duehr stressed that every camera has its own optical qualities. The camera phone's low resolution imaging is "more about raw information," said Duehr. Phones typically have just enough information to make out the subject.

Armed with only a half-megapixel T-Mobile camera phone, Duehr has exhibited large-scale cell phone photos at 6x8 feet. "The digital artifacts and flaws are blown up," said Duehr.

Mobile phone users could benefit from their camera phone which because of its accessibility allows the user to capture shots anywhere they go, according to Duehr. "[Camera phones] are the cameras that people are likely to have on them at all times," he said.

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Cell phones also carry an aura of secrecy, Duehr explained, because they are portable and handheld. "Cell phones feel different" resulting in a "different kind of picture," he said. Likening them to pinhole cameras, cell phone cameras are capable of close-up photos of textures and high depth of field.

Eight MIT winners of the competition received Canon or HP photo printers, Snapfish gift certificates, and an entry to an award ceremony. Interested readers can view the results from the Mili-MIT Museum Cell Phone Photography Contest at

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