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The iPhone Camera Challenge

by Globetrooper Todd | 11 Responses
iPhone Camera Only

Ever since I started traveling, I’ve been torn by a common dilemma. I’ve wanted to capture moments as vividly as possible, but I’ve also wanted to travel as light as I can.

Of course, high quality cameras take up a lot of room and weigh a tonne. I’ve tested smaller point-and-shoots with fast lenses, but they don’t come close to a full-frame DSLR with high-quality glass. Hence, the dilemma. Do I forego my quest for feather-weight travel or ditch my obsession with gorgeous photos?

The Traveler Has No Camera

As the title suggests, I’ve decided to take the rather drastic step of ditching my camera altogether. The Samsung TL350 is a great camera for its size, but I’ve realised I take it out less than 10% of the time. The reason I bought such as small camera was so I’d have it more often to capture memorable moments. But in practice, it just didn’t work out that way. I had to remind myself to ‘take the camera!’

iPhone Camera Harley Davidson

India only through an iPhone. In the middle of a poor area with crappy scooters sits an absolute beast of a (rather costly) Harley Davidson.

I Never Forget My Underwear

Clearly if I wasn’t remembering to take the camera, I didn’t care enough about it. I never forget to take my shoes, or my money or my underwear, and if you think that’s just habit, well, I NEVER forget to take my Moleskine, and I’ve only recently started using a notebook. The only deduction is that I don’t care enough about great photos. I can appreciate a nice photo, but in the scheme of everything else, ‘meh’.

Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I don’t like taking photos; I love to capture our moments around the world. I just don’t care if they’re good enough to print on a massive billboard (or print at all, really).

iPhone Camera Challenge

Only on iPhone. Lauren through the glass leaving for 2+ months on her Gobi Desert Expedition. Still my desktop wallpaper today :)

A Camera With No Camera

Since I always carry my iPhone, I can essentially not have a camera or any camera equipment, but still have a camera. Spooky huh? The iPhone camera pretty much sucks compared to any new-ish Japanese compact, but I’ve found it’s fine for capturing those all-important mischievous moments. As they say, the best camera is the one you have (with you).

Don’t Try This at Home!

For the record, I don’t suggest that everyone ditches their cameras. For starters, you probably don’t have a completely irrational obsession with traveling light. Secondly, if you’re just traveling (not blogging or running a business), you probably have plenty of time to juggle photography and post-processing. And lastly, I’m oddly attracted to the ‘challenge’ of this and becoming a better iPhone photographer.

If you’re in fact up for the challenge too, there are lots of benefits to consider:

  • Less bulk in your bag and pockets – no AC chargers or cables either
  • Less photo-specific software on your laptop – and no RAW processing
  • More time to focus on other interests – writing, meetups, adventures, etc.

Even Better Than Meat on a Stick

On a more subjective level, I’ve made a few other interesting observations over the last week just using my iphone Camera:

  • When photography becomes less serious, you don’t fiddle aimlessly with pixels
  • When you get used to using your iPhone, you react quicker to capture unique moments
  • When the photos aren’t high quality, they become less artistic and more personal
  • Photography is now completely absent from my mind; if something’s worth capturing, I just pull out my iPhone, but I otherwise don’t sweat photography
  • I send pictures to friends and family much more often (one click after taking the photo)
  • I’m more likely to take pictures of meat on a stick in Thailand (soon to come)

To Be Continued…

So we’ll see how it goes. I’m a little more motivated to include my own photos in future blog posts since I’m making a point of this challenge. And already over the last week I’ve become more satisfied with my photos while spending such little effort on them. I really think it all has to do with my photos becoming more personal. I guess I’m looking at the moment rather than the photo, which is good because the photos are truly abhorrent, let’s be honest.

Posted in Gear & Gadgets | June 29th, 2011

11 Responses to The iPhone Camera Challenge

  1. Hi Todd,

    This is a great idea! If I had an iPhone 4 (which has flash and a better camera) and not a 3GS, I would totally join you in this challenge.

    In my 6+ months of travel, I have 5 months of backlogged DSLR photos because it takes effort to sort, process and upload them. On the other hand, I upload almost one photo a day from my iPhone.

    It’s so seamless on the iPhone. Just take it, and upload it to Twitter/Facebook. And with instagr.am which makes the photos look, I can even upload to Twitter/FB and email it to people all at once. And because it’s from my phone, I don’t fuss about the “quality” as I do with DSLR photos.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how this challenge goes for you :)

    - Lily

    • Your story was really infoartmive, thanks!

  2. Hey there, I totally agree with you. I’ve recently picked up a nokia c6 01 since I wanted to capture life’s those miraculous moments which somehow disappear by the time you take the camera out of the bag!

    • Good point Sajay, are you just using the phone as your camera for your blog now?

  3. This is exactly why I want to upgrade to an iphone 4. The photos look pretty good!

    • Hey Megan ,thanks for dropping by. There’s word on the street that the iPhone 5 (or whatever it will be called) should be out in a month or so. May be worth waiting :)

  4. Obviously I’m game:) I do think once the pressure is off to take brilliant photos (pressure which is almost entirely in our heads) it frees us up to try more often and experiment with finding what can work.

    • Totally agree. We got way to caught up in taking pictures for a while, until we realised it was such a low priority for us. I think I’m more of a words person too, if that makes sense. Love great photos, but love a good story much more.

  5. After taking many photos with my Iphone I would say it is as good as any low level P&S. It does what it says and with the use of the apps you can create some very unique photos.

    • Good point about the apps John. I think Drew’s (see comment above) blog is mostly iPhone pics with filters applied.

  6. I stumbled on this website and cannot believe that there others doing the same. For years I shot professionally and now that I don’t, I carry an iPhone around everywhere. I have been using the iPhone for a year, shooting over a thousand images. Images shot from it are better than my previous work because it makes me step back and think and be more creative. Good job!

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