While I believe that cell phones work well for taking many types of photos, in the past I was never interested in using my cell phone to do that. Probably mostly because I’m usually shooting wildlife and it could be dangerous to be close enough to a bear to get that up-close shot! Cell phones have always worked well for family gatherings and many types of people photos and general events. My use of the cell phone as a camera has been using it to try and remember what kind of cat food my 19-year-old cat likes in any given week or day. I did take puppy shots of my Cairn terrier with it as he grew up, but I never used it to produce any type of what I’d term an “art” shot.
Then a professional photographer I know made a presentation to a photo club I belong to and I got interested in the software he was using to process the images he took with his cell phone. As a photographer in todays’ digital world it is essential that I not only know how to use my very sophisticated camera equipment and all the skills I’ve learned that pertain to seeing and taking a shot, but I must also know how to use software effectively to reach the goal I’ve set for that particular image. And to use a cell phone effectively to create art images is no different, I still need to know the equipment, the art of taking a photo, and the software. It also helps to have an innate vision of how that image might look once processed and this is something some people have and others do not and I don’t know if it can be learned.
A week or so after the presentation I attended I took a trip to Sitka, Alaska to photograph whales. I figured the airport would be an interesting place to try my hand at cell phone photography and at using a specific cell phone software called Snapseed. As I walked around the airport I looked for likely subjects and found many. I snapped away at various things and people and as I did a vision of what those images might become was always present in my mind. I had played with the software a bit before leaving and I was eager to try it out on my newfound subjects.
Once in Sitka, I continued to use the cell phone to take a variety of images. And even when I got home I was still at it, snapping off shots around town. My cell phone is very old, an Apple iPhone 8 Plus that is a little over five-and-a-half years old so not modern technology. What matters most in cell phone photography is, does the subject lend itself to being processed by the program chosen to achieve a desired certain look, not having the latest updated technology.
Even with a cell phone, composition, color, subject, light and background were all important. Having said that, I also knew that my chosen software could help with defects in some of those areas. Using a cell phone with no ability to change a lens or to control much of what happens is very different from using my high-end Nikon cameras, but just as fun and maybe even a lot more creative as I gave myself leeway to experiment as my only goal was to create something I thought was “artsy.” I was free of worrying about sharpness, or f-stop, or shutter speed as those things were beyond my control and probably would not matter that much in the end, depending upon what I chose to do with the image. I took landscape shots, people shots, pet shots, object shots, boat shots (the fishing fleet in Sitka, Alaska), and any scene that simply appealed to me for some reason. In the end, I loved how all of them turned out with a bit of flash and sass, they appealed to me on a personal level.
I do similar techniques with a lot of my “real” camera shots, too, but using other software. I always find these altered shots more interesting to look at than a plain, unaltered shot. I guess, in the end, I’m not inclined toward documentary photography and that’s ok with me, as I like the creative side of photography best. I like making any photograph, from a cell phone or a high-end camera, all mine and using various photography software programs to do that. I’m still using my cell phone and playing with the shots to create art and pretty soon I’ll be upgrading to an Apple iPhone 13 as mine is now wearing out…it probably didn’t help to take all those fun shots and process them with Snapseed.
I am a photographer, it is my passion, my avocation, and almost everything I do revolves around it.