Benjamin Lowy

EDITORIAL: iLIBYA: iLibya 1 | Uprising by iPhone

Following the model of the Arab street revolutionaries in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia, and fueled by social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, Libyan civilians orchestrated a massive uprising against the 42 year-old reign of strongman Muammar Gaddafi. When a full scale war between Rebels and Loyalists erupted - trading gun and mortar fire across an ever fluctuating frontline - curious civilians began to document their rebel movement with their mobile phones, instantly updating the world on events as they transpired.

While I worked to cover this story in a more traditional sense, I was also drawn to using my iPhone as I have in Afghanistan. Small mobile phone cameras are innocuous and enable a far greater intimacy with a subject. It was a liberating experience; to point and shoot with a small device, unhampered by camera bags full of gear and reacting to the world around me.

As photojournalists our responsibilities include not just communicating content, but also creating an aesthetic, a visual narrative that will capture our audience’s attention. The public today is more visually sophisticated than ever before. The overwhelming dearth of information available on the internet tends to weaken the impact of content. Important stories get lost in the fray. So as photographers - as creatives and not just journalists - we have the added task of developing a connection to our audience. We need an image that will engage the viewer, that makes our audience question what they are seeing, that allows them to take a step closer to the image and thus the content.

At the same time, using my iPhone allowed me transmit images from the field updating my blog like many of the Libyan revolutionaries around me. Embracing this new paradigm of journalism - no middle man, no publisher - I posted images from Libya and gained over 500 followers in a week, regular curious people - Libyans, Americans, Europeans - who bypassed traditional traditional news sources.

It is perhaps fitting that the Arab Spring movement across the Middle East has been enabled by social media and embraced mobile devices as content gatherers. Is this the future of journalism?

Libyan rebel fighters raise their guns in celebration following the NATO bombardment of Gaddafi loyalists near the Western Gate of Ajdabiya, Libya.
Muammar Gaddafi on Libyan state TV.
Libyan rebels celebrate their revolution in a square outside the de facto headquarters for the Libyan Revolutionary Council in Bengazi.
A crowd of Libyans burn a photograph of Muammar Gaddafi.
A former Libyan exile, who returned to Bengazi following the Rebel uprising, gives a rousing speech following Friday prayers.
 A torched car lies in front of the burnt out remains of a Libyan government building.
Libyan rebels and Bengazi residents celebrate the passing of a UN resolution calling for a no-fly-zone over Libyan airspace, and their belief of dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s imminent demise .
A mushroom cloud from an exploding Gaddafi loyalist tank, Ajdabiya.
 A rebel fighter carries several RPGs towards the front line of a pitched battle between Gaddafi Loyalists and Rebel fighters.
A Libyan rebel stands on the front lines during a lull in fighting between regime loyalists and rebel fighters.
A soon to be slaughtered goat sits in the back of a Rebel technical truck in the Ras Lanuf oil refinery.
A Libyan rebel fires his weapon from behind the cover of a sand berm.
A Libyan rebel takes cover behind a sand berm as pro-Gaddafi forces shell their position on the outskirts of Ajdabiya, Libya.
Destroyed pro-Gaddafi army vehicles sit abandoned along the road leading to Bengazi following NATO airstrikes.
The bodies of civilian and rebel casualties are stored in the Jala Hospital morgue in Bengazi.
A hospitalized 7 year old boy, shot by Pro-Gaddafi forces during their incursion into a Bengazi residential neighborhood, lies in a hospital. Both his parents were killed as well.
A Libyan rebel guards a hospital ward where captured and wounded Gaddafi loyalist soldiers are being treated.
Men congregate amid posters of martyrs during Friday prayers in Bengazi.
Onlookers watch as relatives drive away with the body of their kin after visiting the Jala Hospital morgue.
Rebel war fashion.
Playing with war debris.
Libyans thank America during Friday prayers.
Libyan civilians walk and climb on the rubble of destroyed pro-Gaddafi army vehicles and weapons following NATO airstrikes.
A rebel on the front lines of Ajdabiya looks for pro-Gaddafi force movement during a lull in the battle.
A Libyan rebel fires his weapon from behind the cover of a sand berm.
A Libyan rebel fires a mounted machine gun towads Gaddafi loyalist forces.
A Libyan rebel runs across the open plain of the desert looking for cover, during a battle with pro-Gaddafi forces.
A dead Libyan lies on the floor of a hospital morgue.
Libyan rebels stand amidst the rubble of destroyed pro-Gaddafi army vehicles and weapons following NATO airstrikes in an open field near Bengazi.
 A bus containing unused ammunition was set on fire by rebel forced on the outskirts of Bengazi following an incursion by Pro-Gaddafi forces.
A Libyan civilian stands amidst the rubble of a war-ravaged city street in Brega,
On the road to the front lines in Brega.
Sudanese refugees camp out at the Libyan/Egyptian border.
Abandoned and bullet ridden clothes of Gaddafi loyalist soldiers hang from a destroyed tank following a rebel victory.
Rebels stand on a berm outside of Bin Jawad following a barrage of mortar fire from Gaddafi loyalist troops.
A young Libyan boy rides his bike past a burnt out  government building, following the rebel conquest over the city of Ajdabiya.
An injured Libyan rebel is treated in a hospital in Tobruk.
Onlookers watch as relatives drive away with the body of their kin after visiting the Jala Hospital morgue.
Libyan rebels pray in the desert sand near the front line near Bin Jawad.
A rebel runs for cover as both rebels and loyalist forces exchange mortar fire in the open desert.
Rebel soldiers duck and return direct fire towards flanking Gaddafi loyalist forces in Bin Jawad,
A Libyan civilian covers his face as a mortar explodes near his position during a pitched battle between Libyan rebels and Gaddafi loyalist forces
The body of a dead Gaddafi loyalist soldier.
Libyan Rebel Martrys.
Playing with war debris.
Exhuasted after fleeing the front a rebel soldier glaces back at approaching Gaddafi forces during a mad-dash retreat from Bin Jawad.
Rebel soldiers try to rally their comrades with a cry of
Rebel fighters watch the front lines.
Civilians flee an anticipated Gaddafi Loyalist attack.
While Gaddafi tanks burn in the background, Libyans climb an empty billboard stand during celebrations following the fall of Ajdabiya to rebel forces.
A rebel technical drives past the remains of destroyed Gaddafi loyalist tanks.
Libyan civilians flee an anticipated Gaddafi Loyalist attack on  Ajdabiya.
A Libyan man walks past the remains of Gaddafi loyalist tanks that were targeted by NATO airstrikes.
Fresh blood coats an empty hospital bed in Ajdabiya.
A Libyan rebel.
An abandoned and firebombed pro-Gaddafi tank sits on the side of the road leading from Bengazi to Ajdabiya.
Rebel fighters stand on a sand dune berm on the front lines.
A rebel techincal drives past the smoking remains of a burning vehical during a massive retreat by rebel forces near Brega.