The original iPhone was first released by the late great Steve Jobs on June 29th, 2007. Although it only had a 2 Megapixel camera on the back that captured an image of 320x480px, if forever changed photography.
Here’s how the smartphone changed photography:
1. Everyone is a photographer.
2. It’s easy, with no real learning required to be OK.
3. We carry our camera wherever we go.
4. We share our work in a big way.
5. Our exposure to photography reaches new levels.
6. We re-examine what makes a compelling image.
Apple first started highlighting the camera feature I believe with the introduction of the iPhone 6 in 2014. These cameras featured many new internal software features to capture striking images that many cameras didn’t have including:
- Focus Pixels to capture sharp images with ease
- Local Tone Mapping for more realistic looking photos especially on other digital devices and screens
- Advanced Noise Reduction for capturing images in low light settings with less noise
- Optimal Image Stabilization because people carrying phones rarely cary a tripod
A campaign world-wide called “Shot on iPhone” started to highlight some compelling images shot with an iPhone. These images illustrate a new and very important trend in today’s photography:
A good image isn’t about the gear used to capture it, it’s about the image itself. Image quality and size has little to do with your emotional attachment to a particular image. These images chosen by Apple for the campaign further illustrate that technology can take an original image of almost any size and render it to any size you want, and even make it better.
You will see that the small sampling of images (shown above) used in the campaign represent people, places and things. They are very well composed, like a professional may shoot and completely within the “wheelhouse” of what an iPhone can shoot well. Once you understand what the camera can do on your phone you are well on your way to being able to capture some remarkable images on your phone.
As I mentioned, it’s no longer about the gear. I believe the true recipe for a great image has just 4 ingredients:
Go back and look at the billboards, each great shot has one of these in great abundance and may contain elements of the others. When you look at the billboards you will see some striking similarities in the images, most notably being that THEY ARE ALL REALLY SIMPLE COMPOSITIONS.
Now if you look closer, you may find that they are shot using COLOR effectively and consistent with the mood they are creating. The images also use LIGHT in a way that many casual photographers don’t yet understand. Notice some nice shadows and silhouettes. If your subject is common, then you will need your other ingredients in the recipe to elevate the image like using color, shadows or a unique angle.
If you have a truly unique SUBJECT or SCENE then almost any image will be interesting to your viewer, as SUBJECT takes center stage. For example, a dog walking on its hind legs while juggling 3 tennis balls is compelling and great no matter how you shoot it. Over exposed, under exposed, blurry, it doesn’t matter. That’s an exaggeration, but you get my point.
Here are a few iPhone photos I’ve taken to further illustrate what I mean. I have thousands and thousands of these on my phone and in my archives. I consider my phone another tool in my camera bag just like another lens.
I like to use my phone when I’m shooting people because I’m less intimidating than when I have a long lens and big camera. I also have my phone with me all the time. Typically I use my phone when my subject is well lit and I have access to shoot at interesting angles or when the light is really unique or different.
Honestly, if I could only have just one photographic device, it would probably be my phone. If you would have asked me that 10 years ago I would have told you that you were absolutely crazy.
See what you can shoot on your phone.
Check out a workshop I present on how your phone can and will make you a better photographer here. I typically present this topic multiple times a year in the Southeastern United States Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.