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My (Reluctant) Love Affair with My Smartphone Camera

In the past year, I’ve become very disenchanted with my DSLR camera. Curiously, and to my complete amazement, I am finding my smartphone, to be more than adequate for taking 95% of the pictures while I’m at home.

At home, in my day-to-day wanderings, errands, being with my kids, just general daily life, my smartphone is allowing me to be very spontaneous and creative in moments that ordinarily I wouldn’t or couldn’t have been with my DSLR.

There used to be a time when I would carry my DSLR with me everywhere- but not anymore. Age is a part of it, it’s pretty heavy! But it is also that I’m getting used to a very light portable camera that is always with me – and when I’m not using my DSLR, I often completely forget about it.

Note: All the photos in this post are shot on my smartphone.

I didn’t use my smartphone for many years because I didn’t consider it a real camera. This has changed for me in the past 2 years. I mean, I still don’t completely think of my photos from my smartphone as my “legitimate photography” but I’m starting to. I haven’t completely overcome that mental hurdle – yet.

But the quality is getting better with each new phone, so maybe one day I may be dumping my DSLR and going full smartphone? Honestly, I wouldn’t mind.

I think, like many people do, that the future of photography lies with software and very small cameras.

When cameras can be super high quality and fit in your front pocket – then why would you want to carry a big DSLR or even a mirrorless camera with you? Smartphones are only going to get better, so they’re going to have a much wider range of abilities than they have now and it’s all coming very fast.

I know mirrorless cameras have only just really kind of come to their own but I think it’s a little bit too late.

I think within the next five years the quality of smartphones will be comparable to a DSLR.

Some people say 10 years, but I think it’s going to be much quicker than that.

I am discovering there are many advantages of shooting with a smartphone. For example, my kids totally accept me shooting them with my phone, but if I pick up my DSLR with its gigantic lens and I put that in their faces, they run away.

What has been a big shift for me is to realize that I am now shooting a lot of images that will never be prints. This is strange because I have always photographed on the assumption that my very best images will come to be printed.

But smartphones are not quite there yet on the quality, and so cannot resolve the fine detail that you want for prints.

I had to face the fact that these photos are strictly for screens, which nowadays is 99% of all photography.

And when I did accept this fact, and almost split my brain into photos for ‘screens’ and photos for ‘prints’, I realized I could play more with my creativity, experiment and have fun with this new way of shooting.

My photography becomes a multi-faceted pleasure – and so it’s not always about the end result – which in the past was a ‘good print’. With the freedom of experimentation what I find myself doing with my smartphone photos is to over-process them – and I actually feel good about it!

I like pushing that contrast and I like pushing saturation. Sometimes they give me more of an illustrative feel that an actual photograph and I think this might be due to the lack of detail and the lack of high-resolution.

I’ll push the color and push the contrast to make up for what is lacking in the more traditional photography sense: quality and detail.

So there — maybe I am not ready to give up my DSLR yet, but I am enjoying the ease of smartphone shooting, and not worrying about its limitations.


About the author: Anthony Epes is a photographer whose work has been featured internationally; including on BBC, French Photo Magazine, Atlas Obscura and CNN. Epes is also a teacher – writing in-depth free articles on his website to help you become a more creative and artistic photographer. Receive his free ebook on the two essential skills that will instantly improve your photos, and sign up to his weekly newsletter providing inspiration, ideas and pro-photo techniques. This article was also published on anthonyepes.com.


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