Part of understanding is the ability to admit when one is wrong. Here and now I need to admit that I was wrong.
I have always been a big fan of Apple. It began as a child when I was brainwashed into loving the company by my parents. You see, my Mom and Dad were both teachers. In the early 80’s my father taught computers at a community college. He loved how Apple as a company supported educators so much that he wanted to give back to them. So when they became publicly available, he would use his bonuses to purchase stock in the company… not to make money, but to support education. By now some of you have added things up, and yes, the stock purchased over the years is worth a bit more. However, when you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound. As a family we have made the decision that the money will always be with Apple, as they supported and continue to support education.
I hope that this gives you an idea to my relationship with Apple.
In October 2011, I purchased the iPhone 4s for two reasons. The first was in memory of Steve Jobs, who I believe to be one of the greatest inventors of our time (I called it my iPhone 4Steve). The second reason was to see if this phone was a legit shooter for photographers.
If you have followed the blog long enough, you know that I was smitten by the phone and its ease of use / always in your pocket aspect. I would walk around taking photos every day with it and then would sit there on Camera+ or Snapseed editing away. It was at this time that Apple reached out to me, and I had the privilege of speaking for them about the greatness of their products, one of those being the iPhone.
As time went on the I replaced my 4s with a 5s. While I enjoy the phone, the blinded love affair with it has passed, and reality has set in. I am not saying that I don’t like the phone anymore, but rather the pedestal that I once held it on has changed.
The iPhone is a great camera for a phone, but it is NOT a great camera.
We as a society have become giddy with the idea that we are carrying around a professional camera in our pockets, after all, Apple shot the iPhone commercial with it. Never had this disillusion been more evident than in a recent meeting with a client. When faced with estimates that lay before them, a large company’s marketing director looked at the agency’s creative director and me and said, “Why do we need to pay for all this expensive camera gear? Can’t we just shoot it with an iPhone? I mean, that’s what Apple does.” I was at a loss for words (as was every creative and art director in the room).
After thinking long and hard about it, I believe that we have be disillusioned by our very own disillusions.
So what is the iPhone? In my opinion is it our generation’s Polaroid. Shooting and posting pictures to our modern refrigerator door… Facebook. Does this mean that it is a bad camera? No. It is just not a professional camera.
Like the Polaroid, approach to an iPhone rests in the quantitative at the cost of quality. Can you print a large print from an iPhone, not really. Will it ever fight the quality of even the 4/3rd sensors… again no. It is simply the camera you always have… but in situations of great importance, it is not the camera you want. If your end use is showing the world through social media, the iPhones will handle the job, but shall you ever need to print look to a proper camera.
There are workarounds to making prints with an iPhone, whether it be adding textures or imperfections to hide artifacting. However, if you are really going to shoot something and use Photoshop to edit it, perhaps using a camera to photograph it would lend more dignity to the piece as a whole.
The iPhone has made photography more popular and accessible than ever, but really hasn’t advanced it. Time will tell if it can convert the masses into proper camera carrying photographers. However, one thing is for sure. The iPhone has given us eyes into private experiences that might never have been seen. Be it a celebrity’s private life, or a battle in a war, a beautiful sunset or a once in a lifetime experience… it is the camera that we will always have.