How Shooting with My Phone Made Me a Better Photographer

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It’s incredibly easy for every person that is seriously into photography to get all caught up on shutter speeds, apertures, ISOs, and stop worrying about the moment. but the truth is that all that just gets in the way of taking a good picture. While manual control can help you express your creative vision, using automatic cameras (like some of the very lo-fi options out there) and a phone have helped me over the years become a better photographer.

How is that possible, you ask? Because they helped me focus on the whole scene instead of trying to narrow in so much on just one area. On that same line of thought, they also made me just pay attention to everything in the frame so much more closely while the camera handled the exposure.

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Good photographs aren’t around the specular highlights, the bokeh, the colors; nobody at National Geographic hired Steve McCurry because he specifically used Kodachrome–they hired him because he’s a fantastic photographer that look at an entire scenes and figures out a way to make it look incredible. Instead, good photography is about the content and fixating over things like bokeh and 100% crops is something that is instead very self-serving. That’s fine if that’s all you want, but it’s also quite fair to say that your images may be lost in obscurity amongst the millions that are shot and uploaded to the web each day.

Content is, and always has been, king. Creating an image that is visually interesting is what makes people sit there and stare at the image–and that’s what stripping your tools down to the basics of mobile phones can do for you. Mobile photography these days tends to use your phone’s camera to capture a scene just the way you see it in a fixed, 2D and flat visual. The only way to get depth is by strategically placing elements in an image to make them seem further or closer away.

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Perhaps this is why Instagram is what it is: the majority of the community cares more about the content of your images than the bokeh. You can’t pixel peep on Instagram; and that helps you to just focus on the whole. While this can work for a photographer (lots of adventure, portrait, food and fashion photographers that get that it’s about content more than anything else) it tends to work more for people who simply just take images.

Don’t believe me? The fact that the biggest things on Instagram are hot chicks, hot chicks doing yoga, hot chicks with puppies, puppies, food, and fitness is a testament to this. People in general care about content–it’s only generally photographers who care about looking at things at 100% or the technical details.

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So what does that mean?

I very highly doubt anyone here that reads the Phoblographer on a regular basis would be opposed to becoming famous for their photography one day. The site overall is tailored to the advanced photographer and the semi-professional that wants to make it one day. In your quest to become a full-time pro or even a semi-professional photographer, you’ll need to understand your client. What they care about more than anything is the final result. They don’t care about the process. They don’t care about the insanely fast shutter speed you can shoot at. Instead, they just care about the visual that you can deliver.

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If you’re a person that has no intention of becoming a pro, semi-pro or monetizing your photos at all; cool, that’s fine. But as you become further captivated with bokeh, insane sharpness, etc. know that photography as a whole is infatuated with the moment.