I’ll admit it… for a while I’ve been struggling with my feelings for mobile phone photography and reconciling it with my feelings for SLR photography.
I’m not really even sure how to write about it because it’s a much bigger struggle for me that revolves around capturing images in camera and/or the post processing that happens later – one I have a hard time verbalizing even to myself. Where is that line between photography and digital art? How do you know when you’ve crossed it?
And the big question – does it even matter?
I have no idea. I honestly don’t. Some days it does matter to me. A lot. I put an enormous amount of time and effort into learning the ins and outs and the technicalities of the craft that is photography. And then somebody holds a phone up, presses a button and swipes a few sliders on a screen and boom! Everyone oooos and awwwwws over what talent they have. I’ll admit it… sometimes that seriously irritates me.
And then, other days I’m the one holding up a phone, snapping a button and swiping a few sliders on a screen and looking at it and smiling and thinking to myself “that’s so pretty and it makes me happy that I did it” In those instances I think taking photos and editing them with a phone is amazing and everyone should do it!
It’s all very contradictory isn’t it?
I’ve been messing about a lot more with mobile images. I don’t own an iPhone so I use my iPad with many of the apps that are available for the iPhone. The camera’s not as good but it’s fun. The problem is, holding up an iPad is not always efficient or comfortable (I’d rather hold up my big 5DMKII than my iPad just for sheer ergonomics!). And the iPad camera is not terribly great.
But in the past month or two, I’ve been using my Blackberry. That’s right… the much maligned Blackberry with no fun camera/editing apps to speak of. The one everybody teases me about. But I figured out a work around… I installed Dropbox on my Blackberry, which I use all the time to transfer files between my Macs and PC and for storing files when I’m on the road or sharing folders with colleagues. It’s genius. Now I just upload the Blackberry photo straight to Dropbox and edit it on my iPad and boom… ooooo… ahhhhhh! So pretty! And it’s easy peasy and takes seconds.
It’s freed me up. In so many ways. I’ve been grouching around for months now on this blog about how I feel like I’m in a rut with my photography. And I was… nothing was flowing. I wasn’t making progress. I felt like I was moving backwards. But in the last month I’ve hit a zone. I’m in a groove I haven’t felt in a long time. My eyes are seeing again. I’m using my DSLR more now that I’ve let go of some of my mobile photography hangups. My photos are getting better (some of that will be coming along soon). It’s been so rewarding. The DSLR doesn’t always go out with me anymore but I am using it more… another contradiction. Life’s funny like that, no?
I just finished reading the newest e-book release from Craft and Vision, eyePhone – Making Stronger Photographs With Your Camera Phone by Al Smith. The book is a terrific, easy read with solid strategies and tips for making the most of your camera phone.
Smith fills you in on the hardware specs of your camera so you understand exactly what you’re working with, but without making your eyes glaze over. He moves on to lots of practical shooting information including how to create your own directional light, how to avoid flash use, how to create tripods out of nothing, how to improve your battery life and how to make the most out of the limited hardware that you have. That’s just to name a few… there’s some great tips here – not just for camera phone photography but for all photographers!
Next up, Smith talks about the editing process with emphasis on how your vision and personal style should drive your editing and not the other way round. He includes tips on what to look for in apps to help you edit (as well as a list of basics he thinks you should have in your toolkit) and information on preserving the quality of your images.
The third step, after shooting and editing, is sharing – a huge component of what makes mobile phone photography so appealing. There’s lot of great tips here on learning how to share (yes, just like kindergarten!) responsibly and with your audience in mind (hint… don’t over share!). And what I really liked was some tips on printing your images and the joy you can get from seeing your work hanging on a wall.
What really resonated with me though, and brought me back to that big question… (is there a line between photography and digital art and does it even matter?) was Smith’s philosophy that we need to focus on “the soul of the picture, not the technology used to shoot it”. A tool is a tool. Be it a DSLR or a cameraphone or a piece of software. No matter what’s used, a person is behind that image. Telling a story, having a vision and being able to express it… that’s what’s important.
As a side note, I loved that he debunked the use of the term iPhoneography. That gave me quite a chuckle.
So what does this have to do with expanding your Food Photography? Everything! I’ve been using my Blackberry and iPad a lot for food… it’s helping me with my composition, my prop choices, my lighting and most of all, my willingness to experiment. Before, I’d just want to get the shot done and I’d be pressed for time so I’d do the same thing I do every time in the same location. Now, while I’m eating breakfast or making dinner or even setting the table I’ll notice the light or the alignment of objects and think… hmmmm… what if? And I grab my phone and snap a photo quickly… some I edit, many I don’t, but I keep them as a visual record of ideas to go back to next time I photograph with my DSLR… sometimes I’ll love the result on my iPad so much I’ll drop everything and set up for a DSLR photo right then and there.
Who knew?? So get out there and start playing!
And if you’d like to read Smith’s book, you can purchase it now from Craft and Vision. C&V’s e-books normally sell for $5 a piece (which is a terrific value for all the information that’s packed into each one) but between now and Sunday, May 27th you can purchase eyePhone – Making Stronger Photographs With Your Camera Phone for $4 by using the checkout code EYEPHONE4 or, if you’re feeling like you want to expand your horizons even further, you can use the code EYEPHONE20 to get 20% off your entire purchase when you buy 5 or more C&V books. Both codes are valid until May 27th at 11:59pm Pacific Time.
Craft and Vision are also launching a new bundle available for purchase: The duChemin Bundle. Now, if you read this blog regularly then you know that I’m a bit of a David duChemin fan girl. Not only do I admire his photography and his writing but his whole attitude towards photography, creativity, vision and business are like a breath of fresh air! The duChemin Bundle includes 7 of his e-books and normally retails at $28. But, Craft and Vision are offering up another promo code, DAVID19, that will get you all 7 books for $19. Ummm… ok but that’s a whole photographic education for $19!! If I didn’t already own them all, I’d snap it up!
Now, no excuses for not improving your photography and I personally am glad I’ve put a few of my creative demons to rest for a little while!
disclaimer notice: as a Craft and Vision affiliate, I received a complimentary copy of eyePhone – Making Stronger Photography With Your Camera Phone, for the purposes of reviewing the book.