You can buy the most expensive camera equipment in the world but it won't capture that perfect sunset if it's sitting at home. As a fellow photographer said, the best camera is the one you have with you. The camera I never leave home without isn't really a camera at all, it is my iPhone.
Like many, I use my camera phone for snap shots of the kids or to post a funny photo on Twitter. Until recently, that is all I thought my phone was capable of capturing -- blurry snapshots. The iPhone can be used for much more than that and many use the popular phone to make art. Maybe I was overlooking a great piece of technology and the newest addition to my camera bag.
On a recent trip to downtown Charleston, I jumped on the newest photography trend and shot with the iPhone while the family went shopping. Sure, I could have sat in fancy pink chairs while they tried on every piece of clothing in the store or I could run wild in the streets armed with my camera phone.
Photographing Charleston is nothing new, everyone carries a camera while touring the city. In fact, I must have walked along every street on the peninsula after moving to South Carolina. What made this different: creating art on a phone.
First, it is so much easier to carry a phone on my belt than a couple pounds of gear on my shoulder. Very liberating!
How times have changed for digital photography. My first digital camera, the Kodak DCS 420, was introduced in 1995, weighed almost 4 lbs. and cost over $35,000. The iPhone has about the same image quality of that camera and is considerably cheaper and lighter.
Back then I never thought digital cameras would replace film, I also never thought cell phones would ever give me directions, instant weather conditions or access to my email. Remember the bag phones? They are coming back like bell bottom pants... so retro.
In photography classes at college, no one used the newest 35mm camera. Some built pinhole cameras while others used Holgas and one student shot every assignment on a disposable camera using tape to keep it together. The photographers in these classes produced great pictures despite using outdated technology.
In that class, the camera was only as good as the photographer using it. Each photographer was forced to test their creative limitations.
Sometimes technology only gets in the way. The best part of the experience while using a camera phone was focusing on my surroundings rather than lens selection and camera settings. It's amazing how much more you see when not staring at the camera dials.
Exploring downtown was a totally different experience with the camera phone, I saw everything instead of focusing on one thing.
Sometimes, I would watch a scene develop before taking a single picture. It was enjoyable watching as sweet grass baskets were made or as children jumped around in the fountain. A camera phone with its limitations forces you to be patient and wait for the decisive moment.
Despite the advanced technology of the camera phones, they almost seem old fashioned because of their speed and quality. Since I love the look and feel of older cameras , I bought the Camerabag app for the iphone. The application applies filters to the images to give them the feel of a Polaroid or Holga camera.
These photos come straight from the phone processed using the Camerabag application.
The photographer, not the camera or technology, make a good photo. Sometimes it pays to take a couple of steps back in quality to take that step forward in creativity.
Grab your camera phone and start shooting... I have and won't stop shooting with my iPhone anytime soon.
Paul Zoeller is a freelance photographer new to the area. Do you have an idea for a new blog or a question about a current blog? If you do contact Zoeller at firstname.lastname@example.org.