The iPhone/smartphone is the holy grail of photography.
I. Why do we make photos?
Okay, let me work through this idea:
1. Photography as personal documentation
The purpose of photography is for us to create personal memories. Photography is a form of finding self-meaning.
In the movie BLADE RUNNER— even the ‘fake humans’ had personal meaning through photographs. This means, to be human is to have a memory of yourself through the years.
Therefore, to be human is to have memory. To have human is to document your life experiences, and to find more personal meaning in your life.
The iPhone is always with you, easy to use, and can always be used to document your personal memories.
2. Processing your photos
The next step of photography is to process your images, to make your photos look aesthetically appealing. For me, the aesthetics are important in photography — because the more beautiful the aesthetic of photography, the more emotion, soul, and feeling you get in the images.
Photos (most which are shot digitally) lack soul. Because they are too sharp, too clinical, and have no emotion in them.
However, there are great tools like VSCO which have the best film-simulation presets, which Evoke more emotion in photographs.
I know for myself, I’ve used VSCO on my smartphone— and it rivals the ‘look’ of my medium-format photos shot on a film Hasselblad with Kodak Portra 400.
3. Sharing your photos
The iPhone (and when I say the iPhone — this applies to all smartphones) makes it easy to share your photos.
To be human is to share our photos with others. Because I do believe if no other human beings existed on earth, we would have no impetus to live.
So to be human is to not only create, but to share.
The smartphone makes it easy to share your images with anybody. You can email them, instant message, or publish your images to social media.
4. Why not Android?
I personally don’t own an iPhone — but I will probably buy one. The reason I didn’t own an iPhone for so long (from 2011-2017) is because I used to be sponsored by Samsung, and I got free smartphones (Galaxy S3, S5, S6, S7 plus). But now that I am no longer part of their program, I have freedom to go out and buy an iPhone.
The iPhone is superior than any Android smartphone — because Apple is spending (probably billions) of dollars in image-processing. Which means, it isn’t just the number of megapixels in the iPhone camera which makes it great. Which means, when you make a photograph with the iPhone camera, there are trillions of digital imaging software algorithms to process your photos— to make the colors look ‘true to life’ and aesthetically pleasing.
As of 2017, the iPhone is ‘affordable’ by the masses. The iPhone SE has the same camera as the iPhone 6S, and only costs 400 USD. You can also buy it (at least in America) for free— with a 2-year contract. Not only that, but you can find tons of used iPhones on the international market which are great smartphone cameras (the iPhone 4-iPhone7).
If you cannot afford an iPhone brand-new, just buy a used one.
And if you already own an Android smartphone, just use it. Even if your Android smartphone is shitty — just shoot black and white (or process your photos in VSCO as black and white) and you can use your limitation to be more creative.
II. You don’t need an expensive smartphone
Honestly, you don’t need the newest iPhone. Just get whatever iPhone you can personally afford.
And remember that photography is not a dick-measuring contest. Just because you shoot with an iPhone (and not a ‘real’ camera like a DSLR) doesn’t mean that you are any less of a photographer.
The only way to measure yourself as a photographer is to look at your own images and ask yourself:
Do I like my own photos?
And when it comes to photography, I only care about the opinion of photographers whose work I admire. That is fewer than 5 people. Even now, I don’t feel the need to ask others for their opinions of my photos, because I know that I like my own photos.
III. The democratization of photography and art
I am the ultimate Steve Jobs fanboy. I’ve read Walter Isaacon’s biography front to back (at least 10 times). I’ve read the hardcover version 3 times, and on eBook 7 times. Thank you Walter.
Thank you Steve for believing in empowering humanity through the best smartphone/iPhone/camera for the masses. You are really like Andy Warhol — you showed everyone that (in a weird way) that consumerism and capitalism can create more equality for people.
For example, Andy Warhol said (I’m paraphrasing):
Coca-cola is the best beverage that exists. Because for 99 cents, a millionaire and a person living in poverty will drink the same beverage.
Which made me realize— it don’t matter if you’re a billionaire or living paycheck-to-paycheck — in theory there will not be a ‘better’ iPhone that only the rich person (to a certain extent) can afford.
I know people living in poverty in America who can still ‘afford’ the newest iPhone. And I really do see the iPhone as the ultimate tool for empowerment in photography.
IV. PHOTOGRAPHY IS PHILOSOPHY (with a camera)
At the end of the day, you can make good photos regardless of how shitty, old, or outdated your camera.
My practical advice — if you want to become a better photographer, just ask yourself:
Why do I make photos?
Ask yourself ‘Why do I make photos?’ 5 times. Then you will find out why you really make photos.
So for example, I have figured out that I make photos to make personal meaning in life. I make photos to immortalize the souls of my subjects in my photos. I make photos of Cindy because I know one day she will die (before or after me). And I want my legacy to be one of love — and to encourage others to start their own Cindy project.
To never take life for granted. To take life as sacred.
To also use photography as a tool of empowerment.
So the next time your loved one passes away, photograph their funeral and death.
Life is sacred. Never waste a single day, and MEMENTO MORI (you will, you must die, and it is your ethical duty as a human to die).
Remember: PHOTOGRAPHY IS PHILOSOPHY.
The best camera is a smartphone:
- The Holy Grail of Photography
- 10 Reasons Why Your Smartphone is the Best Camera
- The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to iPhone/Smartphone Photography
- 7 Benefits of Shooting Street Photography With a Smartphone
- What if Smartphones Had The Same Image Quality as DSLR’s?
- My Experience Shooting Street Photography With A Smartphone vs Medium-Format
- Why the 4’’ iPhone SE Will Revolutionize Photography
- In Street Photography, The Smaller the Camera, the Better
- 10 New Tips How to Master Shooting Street Photography With the iPhone
- 3 Reasons Why You Should Use the iPhone 5 For Street Photography by Mike Avina
To find more personal meaning in your photography (and life), pick up a copy of PHOTO JOURNAL.
Unleash your creative potential:
- November 28-29th, 2020: ERIC KIM MARKETING MASTER CLASS - NOW LIVE!
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- May 1-2nd, 2021: CHICAGO / Street Photography Composition Masterclass [Register Intent Here]
- May 22-22nd, 2021: NEW YORK CITY / STREET PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERCLASS by ERIC KIM [Register Intent Here]
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