Thursday, October 1, 2009

Carry a Camera All The Time

Cloud Gate, 2009 (iPhone photo)

Once again, inspiration comes from my friend Alice, who passed along word of a new book and some thoughts on the merit of iPhone photography.

The gist of the author’s thinking is that those who are most comfortable using iPhone cameras shouldn’t feel sheepish; that it’s more important to have access to a camera all the time than it is to fret over the quality or feel second-class because of the quality of the images. He fills a whole book with interesting iPhone images to prove his point.

I’ve had an iPhone since they first came out. (It’s probably the closest I’ve ever been to being considered trendy.) To the device’s built-in digital capture capability I’ve added a few camera “apps,” mostly little programs that allow the iPhone camera to process images so that they come out looking like they came from other kinds of cameras: Holga, Diana, Polaroid, etc. I showed a few images taken using some of these features here not long ago.

I always seem to find myself frustrated, though, by how rapidly iPhone images break down when you try to enlarge them or use them in a format that requires greater resolution. I have a first-generation iPhone, so it may be that later versions have better cameras. Georgios Karamanis, whose work I first found on The Candid Frame Flickr group , has done some nice work with an iPhone. But for now at least, I consider the iPhone a camera of last resort.

But I could not agree more with the author’s admonition to “carry a camera all the time.” So let me remind myself again, because I always seem to find excuses not to have anything but an iPhone with me when I head out to, say, business meetings, CARRY A CAMERA ALL THE TIME.

I was reminded this past weekend in New York that I’m not the only person who sometimes puts himself in the position of having only a iPhone camera handy. We were walking down the steps from the High Line when we encountered several couples working their way up the stairs. One of the guys was complaining that he hadn’t brought his “good” camera.

We were momentarily stuck in a little gridlock of people on the stairs, so we had a chance to hear him repeat this complaint several times. His wife finally said she’d heard enough of his complaining and, just as things loosened up and she and I passed, she called up the stairs to him:

And what self-respecting camera do you think would want any part of you!”

Our eyes met just as she said this and we both broke into laughter. I told her that was the best put-down line I’d ever heard for a photographer and that I hoped I’d remember it long enough to write it down.

Thanks, Alice. And don't forget to carry a camera all the time.

1 comment:

  1. How'd I miss this one? Must've had a busy schedule that day! That is very good advice. You just never know what might happen that needs to be documented! I'm not even a "photographer," and I carry a little one around my neck all the time.