When people learn that I’m a photographer one of the first and now predictable talking points they raise is how frustrating it must be for me to live in a time where almost everyone has a mobile phone with photo capabilities. They assume perhaps that this is somehow cutting in on my business or that I should be offended by the millions of wanna-be’s that think their shots of an IHOP breakfast are worthy of broadcast across the planet. So what am I ‘up against’ exactly?
Approximately 2 billion mobile phone pictures are recorded every single day. I’d venture to guess that most of them aren’t terribly memorable and they get lost quickly in this cyber ocean we all navigate the best we can. Others are deleted immediately or simply lost to some forgotten storage system. Some of these shots are however truly stunning in one capacity or another and stand proudly with images captured with gear even more expensive than my full-frame DSLR. Folks growing up with mobile phones in their hands but with little knowledge of “real” photographers may not realize that all of us poor saps with these larger, more expensive devices offer the same experience to the world. Our shots are usually not spectacular and most are discarded sooner or later with little fanfare. Regardless the technology utilized, those with artistic aspirations and the discipline to pursue the art will grow and blossom in their skills gracing us with the images and videos that make up the internet and the visual world as we know it.
It is then left to the observers to decide if these works are artful.
So obviously it is the mind of the creator that dictates the real qualities we appreciate in photography and not simply the pro gear. Yes of course there are many advanced techniques I can utilize with my DSLR that aren’t options for phones such as the ergonomic layout of a multitude of tactile controls, much larger lenses and the ability to exchange lenses, remote integration with strobes etc. so perhaps that’s a note of distinction for those of us who choose to haul around our bags of “pro” gear. Regardless, I’m fascinated, not afraid of the advances in mobile photography and recently found myself upgrading to a frightening expensive iphone 11 Pro Max precisely for (you guessed it) it’s remarkable photo and video capabilities. This has appealed greatly to the gadget freak that I am and I’m now experimenting with an assortment of accessories to make the most of this little gem. An assortment of brackets/mounts, a new lightweight tripod just for mobile usage, tiny LED light panels, directional microphones and even a robotic gimbal are now part of my ongoing learning and creation processes.
Prior to the digital and mobile photography revolution traditionally photography was fading in popularity. Mobile photography has in fact ensured that photography as a hobby, an artistic discipline, and an industry will never go extinct and I’m grateful.
If I have one complaint about the genre of mobile photography as I see things it’s that because these devices are so incredibly handy, easy to use, and there’s no film to buy or develop, that many people tend to take shots without much consideration or care, almost expecting their results to be mediocre. The next time someone asks you to snap a pic, just take that extra moment to really consider that opportunity. What’s in the background? What if we rotate and experience a different light angle? Where should I focus for this shot?
Just take that extra moment and really “be with” your shot.
And please clean that little lens once in a while. ;)