How Using the iPhone Can Influence Creative Choice
Several years ago I was trying to make a point that it really doesn't matter which camera you use and that what mattered most was your own vision. In an attempt to prove this (partly for myself) I set out to do a small collection of images with my old Motorola cell phone. The results made the point I wanted, but the lower resolution became somewhere restrictive.
When the iPhone came out, I couldn't wait to take it for a spin and after loading one up with apps, I took it along to make images to illustrate a motorcycle trip through the Southwest toward California from Texas. It was actually the 3rd generation iPhone 3G that got me started, and I mostly took it for an easy way to upload images live from the road.
For back up I took a high-end compact, a Panasonic LX-3 and a Nikon dSLR D300 for images to put in a book I'd planned to publish of the trip. (Available on Amazon HERE)
What I noticed was that many of the images I was getting were quite acceptable beyond web use, but not quite there yet. Not long after that trip, I'd upgraded to the iPhone 4 and hopped a bus for Mexico to travel blog and see what I could come up with over a month's time. I also took a high-end compact camera for those images that needed a bit more resolution and flexibility, but it was on this trip that I started noticing a difference in the images I made with the iPhone as opposed to a conventional camera. I'm not referring to obvious differences in resolution, but instead the creative aesthetic choices I was making. Not that they were better or worse, just different.
Fast forward to Summer 2011, I decided to fly to the furthest point in Mexico without any particular plan at all. Zig-zagging from coast to coast, through the jungles, mountains, beaches, cities and deserts until I wandered my way back up to Texas two months later. I travel blogged the experience using only the iPhone for audio, video, text and edited photos HERE.
By this time, I now had plenty of apps and knew how to use them. It's still better than lugging a laptop along, but there are times when I still crave a bigger screen. Next time and iPad may come along with me as well. Again, I took a high-end compact along, the Olympus XZ-1 this time for back up and for those situations that needed a little more photographic muscle.
Again, I was noticing a remarkable difference between the aesthetic psychology of shooting a conventional camera to using an iPhone full of apps. It wasn't so much about the convenience of it either, i.e. being able to keep the iPhone in my pocket and available at all times because high-end compacts are small enough now to conveniently keep with you in a large pocket as well. No, there was something different that effected my approach between the two.
My photographic experience goes back more than 30 years to pre-digital days when you didn't think about digital post production when you make an image. Many of my original habits are still there, like thinking of whether or not the image I was about to make was worth the cost of film, processing and printing. If not, then I wouldn't press the shutter button. I've still got that habit even though it costs nothing to make a digital image.
What I began to figure out was that when I shoot with a conventional camera, I'm thinking strictly of the composition of light, shadow, color, texture, and how the subject matter moves me. I don't think about what I can do with it later, but strictly capturing what ever it is that caused me to stop and study a particular scene or objects within a scene.
When I use the iPhone to make images, I consider all of those things as well, but because the camera is very limited in function I'm also thinking of what app I'm going to process this image with. I'm no longer strictly thinking of how this image will convey how I'm motivated by a scene, but whether that scene can also serve as good source material or digital clay to be molded into something else via software applications.
That frame of mind can make a very noticeable difference in how and what I choose to make images of. I don't believe one is any better than the other, just very different. The images I make with the iPhone tend to be more broad and geometrically oriented. I still focus on getting an image that can stand on it's own without digital app enhancement, but the post production plans are always on my mind. With a conventional camera, any post production thoughts come only after the image is made. Doesn't seem like it would make that much difference, but I've found that it does indeed.
The images made from this trip with the conventional camera have just been published and available for sale in a beautiful new photo book at MagCloud. Click the link below to view a preview and ordering.
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