It’s National Fairy Tale Day (yes, that’s a thing). You may not have ever heard of this obscure holiday, but it’s a great excuse to delve a bit deeper into one of the great phenomenons made possible by photo editing technologies: surreal images.


Surreal imagery used to be the stuff of fairy tale illustrations. Now, it’s the stuff of social media feeds. At times disturbing and at other times inspiring, it takes on themes as diverse as the people who create them, and that’s what’s so brilliant. The more accessible these technologies become, the more we see people all over the world using them as legitimate forms of expression to capture the fleeting flashes of creativity that may have otherwise gone unrecorded. And while there are some who aren’t thrilled about this fact, many others are embracing it. And giving it a name

iPhoneography, a term coined in 2008, is a quickly evolving sub-genre of photography. It refers specifically to images both shot and processed on a mobile phone. It also refers to a community of individuals who gather around the notion that capturing and processing images on a smartphone doesn’t render their work any less ‘genuine’ (despite, at times, vitriolic assertions otherwise). And, seeing as Apple has demonstrated tacit approval for the term by not defending its patent rights to the word “iPhone,” it’s getting quite a following.

PicsArt alone is host to countless members of this community, who provide a valuable glimpse into the burgeoning movement. One of those individuals is Sabine Magnin, known on PicsArt by the fitting alias @iphonographie. She’s based in France and has been practicing photography for about three years, starting with her iPhone 4s. Today, when submitting edits to her 160,000+ followers on the app, she remains faithful to her iPhone (though she’s recently upgraded to a 6), and, while she also owns a Canon 70D, prefers to keep her edits in-hand because it’s more convenient. For Sabine, PicsArt’s role in her iPhoneography is both social and creative. She uses it every day to edit her photos, incorporating features like Clipart and utilizing the drawing tools and Effects. The results are compelling. 


Each image in Sabine’s gallery offers a little window into her imagination, ranging from hauntingly minimalistic, to wildly fantastic, and many thought-provoking shades in between. She says she is drawn to surrealism because it allows her to express her dreams, exposing “the inner child that is in all of us.” She enjoys featuring nature in her work, experimenting with light and contrast. Her subject matter varies, as well.

I think I work a bit like I used to paint a few years ago, often using textures. I especially like the world of childhood. There are also a lot of animals in my pictures and I find that a very interesting mixture. And then there’s this female universe that fascinates me by its gentleness and strength. I will work more on it in the coming years.”


“As for iPhoneography, I am often impressed by its quality,” Sabine tells us. Artists have access to so many different and powerful applications, as well as the opportunity to connect with each other to form a community, so it has become an “entirely a separate style of photography… something more professional,” something that “allows individuals to delve deeper into their imaginations.”


The new territory of iPhoneography as a genre has recently introduced some hotly debated questions to the global community, but one thing is certain: mobile image-capturing and editing capabilities hold a vice-like grip on our realities and, perhaps more importantly, on our imaginations. It seems, today, we all have the opportunity to tell our own, modern fairy tale, one upload at a time. So today, on National Fairy Tale Day, use PicsArt to create your own surreal imagery to tell a story and submit your edits with the hashtag #FairyTale.


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Karine is a Staff Writer at PicsArt Photo Studio. She originally hails from Washington D.C. and currently lives in Yerevan, Armenia. A musician by training, she is also a freelance journalist and graphic designer who is passionate about the arts and the environment (in no particular order).