With this week’s release of the iPhone XS,  I thought about the impact a powerful tool, such as an iPhone, can have on our lives. After spending just over a month in Thailand with only my iPhone 8, it became the center of my universe and the most valuable possession that I had with me on that trip. It was not only my only source to capture what I was seeing, but also a way to manage money, communicate, run my business, and connect with family. Who would even know if I was alive if I didn’t post something on Instagram indicating I was still breathing.

Having photographed everything I saw over the month in Thailand, when it came to image capture, I started to see where the strengths and weaknesses of the iPhone 8 were. I usually adjusted my composition or techniques to work around the weaknesses. I relied on editing to compensate for some of the low light struggles and used Snapseed’s powerful brush tool on certain areas that needed more exposure or less saturation. Then when the iPhone XS came out, it occurred to me why these updates are so important to us. Those limitations I had throughout my Thai adventure didn’t mean I couldn’t capture a great shot, but as Apple improves so does my freedom to have less restrictions as a visual creator. Sure, I can pick up a DSLR and have all the freedom in the world, but those added megapixels and dynamic range do not necessarily equate freedom.

I quickly learned what freedoms such a compact device as an iPhone allows me as a visual creator.

Subtle and Unobtrusive

I was able to get close to strangers and even animals thanks to the fact that my small device did not impose on my subject. We were lucky that Thai people were very open to being photographed but in many countries or many scenarios the only opportunity to catch a shot is if you have a small camera that doesn’t scare off local residents.

Light Weight

My initial decision to leave behind any other equipment was largely based on weight. We were traveling to so many different places on boats, planes, trains, cars, scooters, tuk tuks, and even long tail boats that light weight travel became one of the most valuable assets to us. Living out of a backpack meant that every square centimeter mattered.


I’m the type of shooter to try to catch a real moment whenever possible, sometimes leaving me with one split second to do so. If I had to do something as minimal as removing a lens cap, I’d might lose that opportunity.

Environmental Conditions

I thought to myself on many occasions, “I’m so lucky my phone is water resistant” because I couldn’t tell you the amount of times we got caught in torrential downpours, had to walk through 4 ft of ocean water to get to our boat, or simply needed that pool selfie (What?? We all do it.).These are all conditions a DSLR would not stand up against, sand being the worst offender.

Less Risk of Theft

I’m a pretty comfortable traveler, I don’t get too spooked by sketchy locations or feel threatened unless there is a serious threat. However, I do feel like much more of a target when carrying an expensive camera than when i have an iPhone in hand. This is a common thought when deciding to take a DSLR out for the day vs just toting a phone.

As indicated in my article showcasing why I think the iPhone XS is a major improvement for visual creators, it brings me so much joy to see some of the main issues being tackled in this upgrade. Low light was my biggest struggle with the 8, even leading me to lose some shots I really wanted to capture. Through the improvements of each iPhone model, Apple continuously brings more power and freedom to creators in a small, yet liberating little package.