Southbury, Connecticut © Steven Willard
Mike Johnston stirred things up in a recent post on The Online Photographer http://www.theonlinephotographer.typepad.com (I think the most interesting photography blog on the net), by taking both sides of the argument that iPhones, and their like, are a) evil and have contributed to the downfall of photography as a serious form of expression and b) a way to enlarge the pool of potential new photographers, and were therefore a boon. Of course this sparked some heated comments, always good for spiking the site’s hit numbers. But Mike is not that shallow (the last thing anyone who reads him on a regular basis would call him is shallow). What I think he was wanting to get across is that lots and lots of really bad images have been taken by camera phones, but lots and lots of really bad images have been taken by very good cameras too. They are just tools and nothing more, and the issue is the same with all tools; to the guy with only a hammer everything is treated like a nail.
I’ve read on many occasions “the best camera is the one you have with you”. Phooey! That is only true if you always have your best camera for the situation at hand. An iPhone is never likely to be the “best camera” to use unless you’re goal is to take a photo that looks like it was made with a phone, but it might be the only one available; and that’s not the same thing. What we should be concerned about isn’t whether we have the “best” camera or not, but are we trying to get the best photograph with the camera we are using at the time, regardless of what that may be.
I grabbed this image with my iPhone because it was in my hand at the very moment I saw the situation develop. I had my “real camera” with me, but it was in a bag on the chair beside me. That would have been the best camera to use but I would have missed the shot completely while I fumbled to get it out.
iPhone 4s processed in Photoshop CS4