The Camera You Always Have with You

For the past week-and-a-half, I’ve been having a lot of fun with the cell-phone camera. I know that it is quite a departure from a DSLR or the rangefinder (not only in terms of price OR resolution) but in terms of shooting approach, size, and creative freedom on the spot. And I had missed that – the impulsivity of it. Photography hasn’t been about spontaneity really – it used to be a meditative process – not only with the big view camera but also with all the film cameras. Maybe you know that you nailed the picture with the Leica M6 (or M3 for that matter) but you don’t get to see it immediately, you don’t get to share it instantly, you don’t get to hear others sharing the photographic experience with you right there (and it could be someone you know or the entire world that cares to listen). And that’s something that digital technology alone isn’t enough – you need the cell phone for this – the camera that is always with you (well, I also always have another camera but that’s another story).

For the past weeks, I’ve returned to the Apple side with the iPhone 4 and with it, we finally have a camera that delivers great results. I quickly installed all the apps I had before on the 3G I had until December and was reminded of some of the perks they have (like, you cannot always layer effects, or you cannot dodge specific spots as easily as in Lightroom, or you cannot get all the same film effects I can achieve on the computer – but who would be surprised by this?). And in all the nostalgia of the discovery of something old you knew for its new things, I found all those great pictures I had taken ages ago with the old iPhone – pictures that in their own right, I would love to recreate with the bigger camera (which for most of those shots I didn’t have with me – most of those mountain pictures were from 2008 before my more serious turn to photography). And yet, I love their imperfections, their “old-time” feel. They are today’s archive of degenerated film negatives that you discover on your harddrive. Actually, they are not even that – because I have no other versions of those pictures, no originals, no raw – just them – as they are, done, unreplicatable – they are my digital polaroids. And I might as well use the mobile phone’s spontaneous features just like those film people used the polaroid (although that’s a whole new discussion because of the resurgence of the Polaroid movement: the Man with the Guinness Record Number of Polaroid Camerasthe Impossible Project, and The Mijonju Show).

Discover more iPhone photography in the portfolio section.