After finally ditching my 5 year-old Nokia brick (which I happened to be quite fond of – the thing was built like a tank and had the battle scars to prove it) and scoring a black iPhone 3GS, I’ve come to the conclusion that this sexy piece of metal and glass is a photographer’s wet dream.
First of all, the iPhone has a surprisingly good camera, and if you’re willing to take a moment to think about composing your shots and are able to hold the thing still, it will give you some great shots that you never thought could possibly come from a cell phone.
Despite the plethora of photo editing and special effects apps out there, I’ve decided as a (general) rule to keep my iPhone photos honest by not cropping them (too much) and only applying the slightest of color correction (so as not to cringe when the built-in white balancer fails to show up to work). My reasoning behind this philosophy:
- Adhering to the boundaries of the iPhone frame forces you to be ever cognizant of the frame of the photo – what’s inside the photograph you’re creating, and, often more importantly, what’s outside of it. What exactly are you taking a picture of, and is everything in the frame necessary to convey the essence of your subject? Successfully completing this little exercise is the difference between a great photograph and, well, a camera phone snapshot. (Nothing wrong with snapshots by the way – I’m constantly pulling out my phone to document a moment with a sparing a thought for composition).
- The fixed lens makes accomplishing this even more of a challenge – no zooming in to pretend like you’re closer than you really are! (Apps that give you digital zoom don’t do it for me, by the way). You’ll just have to move your body around in order to get a better shot.
- As far as eschewing in-phone editing programs, here’s my take: the thing is only 3.2 megapixels, so photos coming out of your iPhone aren’t going to be showing up in any magazines anytime soon, so no need to Photoshop them to oblivion. I have no problem with a bit of color and exposure correction, but I’m not a fan of the crazy special effects that have been popping up like weeds. I’ll play around with them every now and then, but I’m more interested in seeing what I can do when it’s just me and the camera.
- The downside where I’m going to have to knock the iPhone is the lack of a phsyical button – sometimes it’s tough to stab the screen exactly where you want to, especially if you aren’t looking directly at the screen while you are shooting. But, this will drag us into the pereniel debate between physical and virtual keyboards, so we’ll leave it that.
Back to the virtues of the iPhone for photographers. Four words: the display is STUNNING. Swiping through galleries of photos you’ve taken is a pleasure that never gets old, and having your portfolio in your pocket is an incredibly handy marketing tool.
Thanks, Apple engineers. Looking forward to what you come up with next…