I love photography. Even though I have spent a great deal of money investing in quality equipment I know it is not the be-all and end-all. I have also put in a great deal of time, effort and money into learning the craft of photography, along with a lifetime of general art experience, and I still have a ton to learn and experience.
As many of us have probably seen, it is quite possible for an amateur with the latest and greatest equipment to make terrible photographs if there is no foundation of art composition and a general technical understanding of his tools (and surely I have done this myself). It is also quite possible for an experienced artist to make an exceptional image with mediocre tools. This is why you don’t say to a photographer, “Your camera takes such nice pictures!” That’s giving way too much credit to an inanimate object! As great as the advances in modern technology are, it’s the photographer who makes the difference.
So, when I say I love photography, I don’t just mean that I get excited about camera equipment; it means that I find something special and magical about the still image. Photography allows you to document an important moment, reimagine reality to create your own story, or abstract reality for no purpose other than creating a pleasing aesthetic. Having nice equipment allows me a great deal of creative control over my images and captures them at a high resolution that will reproduce nicely in print. The downside of spending thousands of dollars on nice equipment is that it is impossible to always have it with me (either because of the weight, bulkiness or financial liability). So, when I’m going about my daily life and I notice a pleasing scene that I’d like to capture and my expensive DSLR camera is packed away at home it does me no good to own it at that moment.
Photographer Chase Jarvis said, “The best camera is the one you have with you” and I embrace that philosophy wholeheartedly. Enter the iPhone (or Samsung Galaxy or HTC or pocket-sized point-and-shoot camera, etc.). My iPhone plays just as big a role in my creative growth and experiences as my $3,500 DSLR camera simply because it is always with me. If not for this handy little pocket camera I wouldn’t create half as much art as I do on a weekly basis. Too many photographers put more emphasis on their equipment and what it can or can’t do rather than investing energy into furthering their vision and skill. Many also spend too much of their time on internet forums bragging about their equipment, arguing about technical specs or criticizing the “other brand,” and not enough time actually getting out from behind the keyboard to experience life and create images.
The low resolution images I create with my iPhone may not be fantastic but as a tool my phone provides many opportunities for creative expression on a daily basis. I started this blog two-and-a-half years ago for the very purpose of facilitating a frequent creative outlet. There are times when I am just inspired to create and knowing that I have only to reach into my pocket and retrieve my phone to make that inspiration into art is a great thing. Sometimes I notice something quirky or inexplicably fascinating to me that I want to capture and share even though I don’t ever plan on selling it as a print or putting it in my portfolio. It’s about the equivalent of an artist carrying around a sketch pad. These “sketches” (for lack of a better term) that I create with my iPhone may be short-lived posts to Instagram or Facebook, seen by a few dozen people, or they may be ideas that I build on and think about for awhile before returning to the scene to recreate them with my DSLR camera in tow. Certainly, there are also those shots that just “fit” best as low-resolution images with quirky faux-vintage filters applied to them and I’m content to let them remain as such. In any case, it’s the camera that you have with you that makes it possible to create.
This picture was taken last week when I took my wife to the spa for a couples massage. It was one of those moments where I looked up, saw potential for a nice image and was glad I had the means to capture it. I thought to myself, “wow, she looks beautiful.” The combination of her style, beauty, the artsy magazine cover and the gaudy leather sofa all came together nicely to create an image that I think is timeless. The focus is soft and the image is grainy because it was taken on my iPhone but it is better than letting that moment of inspiration go by unrealized. This image won’t be part of my portfolio but it preserved a memory for me and my wife and may very well serve as inspiration for a future photograph that could end up in my portfolio.
Image created with iPhone 4. Edited with the following iPhone apps: Snapseed (general exposure, desaturation and tonal adjustment), TouchRetouch (blemish removal), Photoshop Express (noise reduction), Image Blender (layer masking).
© 2013 Johnny Kerr Photography