One of the most overlooked tools at a photographer’s disposal is the humble camera phone.
The cameras in phones have come a long way in the past few years; today many are packing 5mp sensors and can shoot video! Having such a device that easily slips into your pocket opens up a world of photographic possibility.
As well-known commercial photographer and educator, Chase Jarvis says “The best camera is the one that’s with you”.
I’ve been using an iPhone 3Gs for some time now. It’s an extremely useful tool that I use nearly every day for photography. I use it to photograph anything that interests me or catches my attention.
Beautiful light, landscapes or street scenes, colours, patterns, lines, shadows, fleeting moments, friends, still life and anything else you come across during the day (or night) becomes a potential photograph.
When you’re a photographer you never really turn things off, so having a camera on you means you’ll be ready when inspiration strikes!
You’ll also begin to train your eye to see the potential photos in every scene you come across.
Photography is about practice, and the more you shoot the more intuitive things become. That means that when the time comes to shoot for a client, you’ll be creating better images because you shot so much with a camera phone. Except hopefully you’ll be using a professional camera ;)
How to do it:
- Take your phone with you everywhere you go! I have my phone programmed so that when I double tap my home button it automatically opens the camera (so that I’m not frantically searching for the camera app when I see something interesting). See if you can program a button in your phone to do the same.
- You don’t have to go far. Most of the shots I take on my camera phone are from around the house, or close to home. I never intentionally go for camera phone walks – though you can. Instead I just reach for it when I see something interesting.
- Experiment. It’s fun to work with limitations – it forces you to be creative. With camera phones you’re usually dealing with a fixed focal length lens, and auto exposure. You would think that all you can do is just press the button to take the photo, but as you take more photos I think you’ll surprise yourself with how much you’re actually in control of.
- On many phones you can download special camera apps to apply filters, and post to various sites. You can check out this article I wrote for iPhone apps.
- Share your work! I’ve been keeping a blog that features a lot of iPhone photography. I used to just post shots on twitter, but it wasn’t a great place to easily view the work that I had done. It’s fun to see a visual record of your progress as a camera phone photographer.
- You can also use your phone as a visual sketch pad. Like a pose in a magazine? Snap a shot. Need to remember a lot of text? Snap a shot and import into Evernote (which has optical character recognition). Always forget where you park? Snap a shot. Location scouting, street addresses, frequent flyer cards, tasty food, proof (photos or it didn’t happen!), shenanigans, cats.
- Have fun! It’s important to shoot without limitations. Too often we only pick up the camera for a job, and then we can’t be as free and experimental as possible. So take the opportunity with your camera to have fun, not worry about the results, and simply shoot what you like. In this mindset you’ll really unleash your creative potential.
Here are a few shots I pulled from my blog, all taken with the iPhone 3GS: