Shooting With an iPhone

As a guitar player, one of the most pervasive facets of the music community is a certain level of gear worship. You’d be hard pressed to find a touring band who doesn’t play guitars older than their parents and amps that cost as much as a semester of tuition. When talking music gear, the conversation ultimately falls into place around the specific equipment’s fidelity, what woods it is comprised of (for guitars), whether or not an amp is powered by vacuum tubes or transistors, or even whether or not an effect pedal is “true bypass”(essentially a shorthand for referring to how little the signal fidelity depreciates after passing the pedal).

In a lot of instances it seems that photography can fall into the same mode of thinking. In classes its fairly common to hear people discussing—or sometimes debating—the advantages of full frame versus crop sensors. Similar again to guitar, where the debate may lead to, “oh, don’t get a Squier; get a Fender,” much like how a weary advisor may steer you away from Quantaray lenses. With good reason, mind you, but ultimately if you define a good photo as being strong compositionally, then you may not end up with a tack sharp magazine cover, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the photo will be bad. At least not in theory.

The growing resurgence of Holga cameras, which are made nearly entirely out of plastic, including the lenses, seems to indicate similarly as well. Reverting to the guitar analogy, despite his owning several vintage 1960s and even 50s Fender Jazzmasters, J. Mascis of Dinosaur jr still uses his signature Squier model live extensively; still yielding strong results.

Anyway, the point of this whole thing: the other day was fairly slow at the Everhart museum so I passed the time by shooting photos with my phone, which I am fairly sure is an iPhone 5s. I remember thinking about a little project from last semester where we were exploring the differences between pictorial and straight photography (this will be a bit of an over-simplification but essentially the former imitates paintings and the latter embraces the qualities of the photograph). I noticed that the megapixel rate of the phone camera somewhat lends itself to the same ethereal quality that many pictorial photographs had. I guess this was an exploration of a more practical-everyday-I-don’t-have-my-camera kind of use. Sometimes you’ll hear people drag (rail against) cell phone cameras, but I’m pretty pleased with what I ended up with.

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