iPhone Photography Tips (From a non-user)

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m doing a post about iPhone photography tips. I quit using my phone as a camera two years ago. Is that weird? Am I the only one? Maybe. But let me share my thoughts here because I feel I have an interesting perspective on this matter, and the world is full-on “iPhone for President,” so let me add my two cents.

1. Just do that one thing. If you are going out to shoot with the phone then JUST use the phone. There is nothing more heart breaking than seeing a “real” photographer carrying two bodies, two lenses, a camera bag, belt pack and various other telltale signs of the pro, but never using them because they are spending all of their time shooting with their phone. The idea behind the phone is that it’s the easiest way to share, so if sharing is your primary focus in life then just own it. Leave all your other gear at home, save your back and just use the phone. Look, it’s not like the viewer can’t tell it’s a mobile phone image. Just own the experience. And speaking of the viewer, they don’t care either. Doesn’t matter if you are using an iPhone or 8×10 view camera, you are seen only as yet another snapper adding to the global glut on imagery.

2. Go easy on the apps. Several years ago the trend was “app stacking,” but MAN do those images look dated now. An image is typically good or bad depending on the actual image and ingredients like light, timing, composition, etc. Layering up filter over filter isn’t going to serve you in the long run and will surely date your work as apps change like the weather.

3. Back those babies up. Much of what we see via the phone today will be gone tomorrow. People simply don’t take the time to back things up. I kid you not, I just searched for an iPhone image I made three or four years ago and that baby is GONE. Heck, get Mylio. Like today. Like right now. The world seems to be infatuated with the now, but how great is it to go back and revisit work you made years ago, especially when it comes to recording your family history, something tailor-made for the iPhone.

4. Print those photographs. NOBODY wants to look at images on YOUR phone. Trust me. When someone says to me, “Oh hey, let me show you this image on my phone,” my first thought is how quickly I can get away from this person. NOBODY wants to see your images while you hold your phone in front of their face while scrolling though thousands of images to find what you originally intended to show. EDIT, EDIT, EDIT. Editing leads to printing which leads to happy friends and family. Instead of showing them the nine hundred extra images you made while standing at Niagara Falls, you simply show them the print of the best one. Like what we did with photography, right up until the phone.

5. Forget the label. It doesn’t matter that you shot your latest project on a phone. This storyline ended back in the late 90’s with the first mobile phone book of photography(Robert Clark?). The phone is a remarkable tool, but nobody really cares that’s what you are using, and for those of you “serious” photographers who are still using this sales pitch….we can tell it’s iPhone photography, no need to alert us, and what editor or art buyer is still influenced by your decision to only carry a phone? (Nobody wants to carry gear, which is one of the major reasons why the phone has had such success…be honest.)

6. Bonus Tip: Don’t look, just shoot. Digital cameras ushered in the term “Chimping.” “Chimping” is a colloquial term used in digital photography to describe the habit of checking every photo on the camera display (LCD) immediately after capture. Don’t chimp. Chimping destroys any form of continuity while working. Trust that the images are there and just engage fully with that is happening in front of you.

These phones have changed the world, no doubt, but like all vices they come with things that require monitoring. For twenty-five-years I stared at the world through a rectangle. Looking back I realize, in many ways, the camera worked as a filter, putting distance between myself and the actual events, people and experiences. In some cases I was thankful, and in others I realize I missed certain things because of my fondness for the box. The iPhone is no different. It can be wonderful but there is a reason it has an “Off” button.



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