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Travel Photography & The Convenience of the iPhone

Isn’t it amazing how far mobile phone cameras have come in such a relatively short time period?   If you’re a Millennial or a Generation Z-er, your first mobile phone probably was 8MP or greater.   The technological advancements made over the last years is no big deal to you.

I’m Generation X and my first mobile phone didn’t have a camera at all and I thought texting was out of this world. Seriously, I could type a message and send it through the airwaves to my friends and they would reply?   That was wild.   And then a year or so later I could also send a pixelated photo via an MMS?   That was state of the art and almost Jetson’s like.

taking travel photos with mobile phone

I remember working at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens and sending photos of the opening ceremonies as they happened back to dusty West Texas.   That was way cool and the person to whom I sent the images couldn’t believe they were seeing the ceremonies before the Games were televised in the United States.

Mobile phone cameras changed so much of every day life for everyone.   In fact, the digital age slammed professional photographers and not in a good way unless you’ve known how to quickly adopt new technology and adapt.  The internet and mobile technology put a lot of photographers out of business.  No joke.

I’m a traditional travel and art photographer.   This is my life and my professional life.  One of the requirements of being a professional photographer is to carry around a lot of photography gear.   Getting the right shot with the right camera and lens is important when shooting for books or magazines.  It is possible for me to carry around 40 lbs or more in my backpack depending on the camera with which I choose to travel.  

Like most people, keeping life simple is ideal.  I am one to simplify travel so life is easier and I don’t fumble changing lenses or even deciding which lens to use.   Before I leave my studio I know which camera and lenses I’ll use so I’ll only carry that and I leave everything that’s unnecessary behind.   Why needlessly overload, right?

taking photo with dslr camera

I also know where I’m going and I know what I’m interested in with regard to the images I want to capture.   I research ahead of time so I’m not completely blind or oblivious to what I’ll find when I reach a destination.  What are the best architectural features?  What is the lighting like for the landscape I want to capture?  When will I run into the least amount of people?    All these things I know before heading out the door.

There are always unexpected moments I’ll find no matter where I go and no matter the amount of research I’ve done ahead of time.  And sometimes, the unexpected moments and finds are the best photo opportunities.   What I’ve discovered is sometimes it takes too long to lift the camera, turn it on, adjust the proper settings, focus and click the shutter.   A moment that happens in an instant is long gone by the time I have my camera ready to shoot.   Candid and spontaneous moments missed.

It is my job to think and act in an instant as a travel photographer.   And I do just that.  Today’s mobile phone cameras, especially Apple iPhones, make the oftentimes impossible possible.

When the cute kid looks quizzically at the horse guard and then looks at his mom and smiles a huge smile, I can capture both in an instant with the iPhone.   And when a tractor putters by on a Himalayan mountain road loaded with Bhutanese, I can capture their smiling faces and friendly waves with video without even thinking about it.

As technology improves and mobile phone cameras become something only a DSLR could do in the past, possibilites become endless.   Editing apps right on the mobile phone increase quality results even more.   I’m still amazed quite frankly and no doubt I’ll continue to be amazed for years to come.

Capturing Photo with DSLR Camera

Do I ever ditch the DSLR just for the iPhone?   No. I’m far too conventional and since my images are often published in magazines or books, I’ve no choice but to use a full frame camera or film.   I still love film and am a believer that film’s quality can not be matched.   The portability and convenience of the iPhone can’t be matched either.

And so what you see in the video presentation in recent blog posts , were all captured with a variety of iPhones.   The earlier images were captured with the iPhone 4.   I then graduated to an iPhone 5, 5s, 6, 6s, skipped the 7, went briefly to an 8 and now use the iPhone X.   The latest models are simply incredible when it comes to photo quality.  What is interesting is with each model, I thought it was the best only to be blown away by the improved mobile phone camera capabilities.

The purpose of travel photography is to document your journey and experiences.  These images serve as memories that will last a lifetime, and it’s likely that you’ll want to share them with family, friends and your social media followers.  Can you submit mobile phone images to stock photography companies?  The answer is yes.  The quality of images from mobile phones as improved so dramatically, stock companies openly welcome them as stock images.

While the image resolution and quality might be higher on a DSLR or other high-end camera, the iPhone wins hands-down on portability and convenience.  What’s better than slipping something into your pocket and is so easily accessible?  

taking photo with mobile phone


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