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Volume 26, Number 2 — February 2019

Bristol on Digital Canvas

"Jennifer's Bristol," a snapshot of life in the twin cities by Bristol photographer, Jennifer Molley Wilson. (Photo: Earl Neikirk|Bristol Herald Courier)
Additional photos below »

Shutterbug uses Cell Phone, Camera App to Paint Portrait of Twin City


*** Published Tuesday, Nov. 30 in the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier. ***

BRISTOL, Tenn. Starting today, nine images of the Twin City will be showcased on a popular Facebook photography site.

Created by longtime shutterbug Jennifer Wilson, the collection will be the first depicting life in an American city to appear on the social networking site of "Hipstamatic," a popular iPhone photographic application.

"I had posted a photo occasionally on the Hipstamatic Facebook page and about three weeks ago I got this letter inviting me to participate in this project," said Wilson, who works as communications director for the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.

The invitation was for "Adventures in Hipstaland," in which select photographers from around the world submit just nine images to tell the stories of certain cities or locations.

"Adventures in Hipstaland is a nine-image story that we are asking a very select group from our [digital] community to be part of," Mario Estrada, community director of Hipstamatic said in a written statement. "Adventures in Hipstaland is a journey around the globe, with our adventurers documenting the world through their favorite Hipstamatic lenses."

The company is marking its one-year anniversary and is ranked as the top iPhone photography application. The company's Facebook page has more than 12,000 user-submitted photos and about 30,000 followers.

"Just to think they were paying attention to my stuff made me feel pretty good," Wilson said. "It's flattering. I never thought a girl and her phone would be representing Bristol some day."

Wilson hadn't heard of the application before August, when her daughter made the $1.99 download purchase.

"I just took to it. It took a little to get used to the square format, but it's pretty cool," said Wilson.

Images created by the smart-phone application are designed to replicate the look of snapshots made by vintage, plastic film cameras, with vignettes, blurring, over-saturation and some discoloration, according to the company's website.

Wilson's gallery will include unique depictions of familiar sites like the Bristol welcome sign, the front straightaway at Bristol Motor Speedway, the guitar statue outside the chamber office, the Burger Bar, South Holston Lake and the sign on the Bristol train car.

All appear exactly as taken with no post-production manipulation.

While her submission could have been from anywhere, Wilson said there was no question she would focus on the Twin City. But paring hundreds of digital images down to the final nine involved an extensive editing process. She plans to post galleries of additional images on her own website.

"One of the challenges for me was I take a specific kind of photograph. I don't have people, it's basically objects and details, so the big challenge for me was keeping true to what I do. The other was, with an area of sweeping mountain vistas and lakes and tall guitars, the square format can be a little challenging," Wilson said.

Among her favorite moments was photographing inside Bristol Caverns with her phone, mounted on a regular tripod, when a group of Virginia Intermont College photo students passed by.

Wilson's husband, Malcolm, who is a professional photographer, encouraged her to put aside her camera and explore this unique imaging medium.

"I shoot this because it makes me happy and if somebody else likes it, that's great. It's a huge creative outlet for me. I enjoy it so much," she said.

Photo By Jennifer Wilson of the Bristol Sign.

The Burger Bar in Bristol, Va., a city icon, was captured by Jennifer Wilson.