This article first appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of Resource, available online here.
Words and Photos by Jack Hollingsworth.
My name is Jack Hollingsworth. I’m a 30-year veteran commercial photographer specializing in travel photography. Two years ago, while on a DSLR assignment in the Caribbean for a luxury resort, I shot my very first iPhone photograph. This was an epiphany—a conversion that quickly became an obsession. It led me to believe that in the hands of any visionary photographer, the iPhone can be a powerful camera. When all is said and done, I suspect that the iPhone will go down in history as the most influential capture device ever manufactured in the history of photography.
Apple gave the iPhoneography movement its true birthright. Flickr gave the movement its roots and foundation. And Instagram has now given iPhoneography its wings by creating a global audience for mobile photography. This is an extremely exciting time for photographers to be creating imagery. The iPhoneography zeitgeist isn’t hurting or ruining traditional photography; it’s breathing new life into it and forever changing the conversation about photography and where that conversation takes place—in the palm of your hands. Based on my own mobile photography experience, here are a few tips to help you raise your game.
Expose for your highlights.
Mobile photography isn’t really that different than DSLR photography—expose for your highlights and let the shadows fall where they may.
Use dual reticle apps.
I only use apps that allow me to independently control both exposure and focus since the points for each are often quite different.
Zoom with your feet and not your fingers.
A full frame DSLR sensor is 70 times larger than an iPhone sensor, so you don’t have the dynamic range in mobile that you have with your DSLR. Don’t use the digital zoom—it sucks and you’ll be disappointed with the results. If you want to get close, move into the subject!
Make your mobile photography intentional, not casual.
Most mobile shooters document experiences as they move through the flow and rhythm of life. That’s not at all a bad philosophy, but you can do so much more if you make your mobile experience intentional. Try taking a short fifteen-minute photo-walk a day. You’ll be surprised—it could change your photographic sensibility.
Let apps refine but not define your style.
It should come as no surprise that after 30 years of DSLR shooting, I came to the mobile experience with a defined style and mission. So, I look for camera apps (almost 20,000 of them are on iTunes) that further refine my style. The best apps are the ones that help you define your body-of-work.
Limit your shoot-to-share ratio.
I shoot way more images than I share. The way I look at it, that’s a good thing. Shoot everything that inspires you, but share only your best work!
Shoot now. Edit later.
I don’t normally edit as I move through any given shooting experience as shooting and editing uses different parts of the brain. Throughout the day I “spot check” what I’m shooting, but I generally edit later in the day, when things are quiet and I’m more relaxed.
Turn technical limitations into opportunities.
Yes, the iPhone (and all mobile phones) is technically limiting in terms of controlling exposure and aperture, sensor size, or dynamic range. You have no control over ISO or shutter speed. But the truth is, these are the very factors that make the capture experience so fun, unpredictable, and exciting. I felt exactly the same when I shot Polaroids, Lomos, Holgas, Dianas, etc.
Make artful moments.
There seems to be two groups in the mobile space: those who capture memories of friends, family, or experiences; and a second group made of mostly discriminating photographers who sets out to create “art.” While I applaud and celebrate both groups, I see a third group emerging—those who create “artful moments” (the best of both worlds!).
Shoot like a crazy man.
There is no substitute for learning photography other than to shoot, shoot, and shoot. As you begin to understand and appreciate your mobile camera for what it is, I think you’ll find new passion and excitement—just like I have found.
When it comes to mobile photography, you’re either a “groupie” or “grumpie.” Trust me when I say that there are a lot more “groupies” in this world:
– There are over 7 billion people on the planet today.
– 1 in every 7 people on the planet own a smartphone
– And 90% of these smartphone owners shoot pictures with their mobile camera.
Join the conversation. Join the revolution!
I never thought for a single minute that I would be in love with a piece of hardware as I am in love with my iPhone. It’s a game changing device that, when used properly, can yield astonishing and compelling results. I have not abandoned my DSLR work and I have no intention of doing so in the near future, but what I can tell you is that, whether I’m shooting commercial or personal work, my iPhone is always close by.
I am about to launch my own camera app called “Passport” which I hope will be on iTunes soon. The game is about to change again.
Connect with Jack:
“1 in 7 billion people on the planet own a smartphone”