In today’s world having a cell phone is the norm and a huge majority of smart phones actually have a pretty decent camera on them. I can say personally that the “camera” that I carry most happens to be my iPhone. I always have it on me everywhere I go and I happen to shoot quite a bit with it. I never really do anything with any of the photos from my phone and the other day I was reminded of the saying “The best camera is the one you have on you.” To me, as a photographer that makes perfect sense. It’s one of those things where you don’t think; you just shoot. For example, if I’m out and don’t happen to have an actual camera on me, my first instinct is to grab my phone and capture the moment without focusing too much on the end result. That is what photography is all about. It’s about living in the moment, it’s about capturing what’s in front of you and it’s about taking advantage of your surroundings.
Typically for me I try to carry an actual camera with me pretty much everywhere I go because honestly you never know when you might need it. I know I have mentioned this before in past columns but having “shooter’s remorse” can ruin your day. Finding yourself wanting to shoot and having nothing to shoot with is the worst. I try to avoid that by always keeping my phone on me. At the very worst, I know that I can shoot whatever it is in front of me and still capture the moment and have that memory to look back on.
In today’s society, things are so fast paced and rushed that it only makes sense to shoot with a telephone right? At this point I wouldn’t say that I’m sold on the idea of not carrying a real camera but I just know that having some sort of option, regardless of the quality is way better than not having anything to shoot with.
This is where we have to think about the difference between a “photograph” and a “picture.” Can we really call an iPhone image a “photograph?” I mean, to me that sounds a little ridiculous but it really depends on the person. To someone who comes from a film background, thinking of a cell phone as a camera is a crazy concept for sure. But regardless, if you can stop that moment in time and freeze it forever, that’s the most important thing.
It’s those times though, that make all of the difference. It’s those times where you look back and bring all of the memories from that image straight to the front of your mind. When you look back through your phone after a trip, it’s like looking into an old memory box or something. It brings you right back to those exact moments. I keep putting an emphasis on the quality and how once you shoot with an open mind and don’t make that your main focus you will capture better images.
I often find myself surprised by the quality of an iPhone camera. Knowing that you can’t go into a drug store and get a roll of actual film developed but you can plug in your phone and print directly from that makes me a little crazy but it is what it is. If you do some research you will realize that a lot of places that used to do 1-hour processing have removed all of their developing machines and only print digital files now. As a current day photographer you have to know how to adapt and take advantage of any situation you might find yourself in. It’s about thinking on your feet and making things happen. That is the only way you can survive as a photographer these days.
Eventually we are going to get to the point where the majority of cell phones will have cameras that have more megapixels than some actual cameras and that will be a crazy day. Am I saying that because I’m anxiously waiting for that day to come? Hell no, I’m just pointing out that more likely than not, that is what our future holds.
The digital world isn’t something that I planned on being fully immersed in as a photographer who fell in love with film at a young age but that’s just how things have come to be. I can’t stress enough how important it is to be flexible as a photographer in the year 2013. You have to adapt to the times and change right along with them. I’m not saying to go out and shoot everything you see on your iPhone, but it makes for a decent option if you just so happen to need it. I’ll end this with another saying that has always stuck with me. “It’s the magician, not the wand.” Regardless of your camera choice, if you know what you’re doing, you can produce worthwhile images and at the end of the day, that should be your number one goal.
Keep in mind that a phone should not be looked at like a replacement for your favorite camera but more importantly it should be looked at like another tool for you to capture images with. Always be ready to shoot, and always have an option. On that note, be sure to check back next Wednesday for the sixty-eigth edition of Through the Lens and as always feel free to leave any questions in the comments section or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will hit you back as soon as I can. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram as well @jeremypavia.