Apple’s Shot on iPhone Macro Challenge Shows that Gear Matters

When the Apple Shot on iPhone Macro challenge launched, we were pretty critical of it. Today, they’re announcing the winners of the challenge. To enter, you had to purchase a brand new iPhone. Apple let us take a look at the winning images before the announcement. The prize is, well, very little. And as much as we’d like to say that the gear doesn’t matter, the winning images leave us wanting.

According to our initial report, here’s what the winner gets:

“The contest is being judged by a few big names, and you have the chance to have your image displayed on Apple’s Instagram, their newsroom, and on their website. But that’s it”

Does the Gear Matter?

Many photographers are bound to say that a smartphone can’t shoot professional-quality images. I don’t think that the case. But I surely do believe that if you shoot a photo with an iPhone you’ve got to do a lot of post-production work to get it to a presentable spot. That’s not necessarily the case with a dedicated camera; and there are lots of photographers refusing to edit these days. Your phone also still uses a small sensor and a ton of processing power to create usable images. If anything, the processing power is the big seller here.

With that said, I don’t think that anyone who entered this contest really seemed to be a professional photographer or even a passionate photographer. I think that these folks were probably just messing around in some way or another. This theory comes because I don’t really see a whole lot of originality with these photos. They’re the same things that we’d always end up seeing for every macro photography contest. The photos lack life, originality, and creative vision. Instead, I feel like they’re just snapshots. The exceptions are the photos of Guido Cassaneilli and Ashley Lee. These two images feel like something way beyond a snapshot. Considering that Apple strives to provide the best of everything, I’d hope that they don’t try to promote mediocrity either.

To that point, I think that it’s long been time that we need to stop saying that something was necessarily shot on a phone. Instead, we need to focus on creativity. A phone isn’t all that capable, but all the extra add-ons make it a very capable camera to use. With that said, we can and should expect smartphone photographers to push themselves to the same creative limits that others do. 

Photography in general needs to take a massive step forward. The world is diluted with tons of snapshots and not enough photos worth artistic merit. The artistic merit and expression is what we should be putting forward. While the old masters like Dianne Arbus and Ansel Adams have a lot of influence and power, we need to stop putting so much emphasis on them and others. Instead, we should showcase photographers putting forth authentic, inclusive, and creative work. What am I talking about? We’ve got a whole series on our site about photographers not using Photoshop. In the future, really good photography should rely on the in-camera creativity of a photographer and not lots of photo editing. It’s wonderful that that’s how photography has been done since the beginning of time. But it’s also time to change due to various major technology changes to the art form.

Congratulations to the winners,

The Winners of the Shot on iPhone Macro Challenge for 2022

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.