"But.. I Don't Own a Fancy Camera!"

Author's Note:

All shots on this page were taken on the iPhone X (2017).


Yosemite National Park, CA.

When I tell people to go take more pictures, they often shy away from the idea and say how lack of camera equipment is prohibiting them from doing so. The idea that you can only take quality pictures if you have the best gear is honestly one of the biggest fallacies regarding photography. 

  • Mariazell, Austria.

  • Mariazell, Austria.

I’m a firm believer in the saying, “the best camera is the one that you have on you.” If you’re looking to take a moving photograph, then what you’re looking for is a moving story.



One that makes your viewer pause.



One that makes your viewer think.



One that makes your viewer feel.



San Francisco, CA.

San Francisco, CA.

To find these stories, you just need to actively keep an eye out for them. To be fully present and in the moment. I’m sure that every single day there’s thousands, if not tens of thousands, of beautiful, powerful moments throughout the world that could be captured, but they never are. You probably already know what I’m referring to. Those tiny moments that cause your thoughts to stop and may even take your breath away. Moments that are so spontaneous and fleeting that they become all the more captivating. Moments that, as easily as they captivate and overwhelm you, pass over the person sitting beside you on the train in their state of absent-mindedness.

Good stories happen in front of you all the time. It could be the way the flowers danced in the wind that afternoon. Maybe it was the way shadows caressed your kitchen at sunrise. Or perhaps, the story you want to tell can’t be told in just one image. You may want to romanticize your daily walk to work by capturing the front entrances of neighborhood brownstones. Or it’s the story of your city that you wish to tell through glimpses into the lives of its residents. A good story doesn’t need to be the next feature in some big-name publication, nor does it need to be something you’ve poured weeks of research over in order to capture (although this would likely yield some stellar results). The best stories are the ones that lie close to your heart.

Woodstock, VT.

Woodstock, VT.

Innsbruck, Austria.

Innsbruck, Austria.

San Francisco, CA.

San Francisco, CA.

The wonderful thing about the time we live in is that almost everyone carries a small camera on them throughout the day. That camera.. is your phone! It’s truly mind blowing how far phone cameras have come, giving the average photo enthusiast the opportunity to compete with even professionals. Those magical moments we were just talking about? So long as you have your eyes peeled and creativity burning inside, you have no excuse not to go capture them.

But the image quality on phones can hardly compare to that of cameras, right?

Not really as the gap is growing increasingly narrow. To be frank, the image quality is starting to not matter. The baseline in terms of image quality from phones is ridiculously good, with the most recent phones in 2019 being downright outrageous in terms of how good their cameras are. But even if your phone isn’t the latest model, it doesn’t matter. If you’re posting to social media, guess what? Every platform compresses your images and most people are viewing your post from their tiny mobile screens anyway.

Paris, France.

Paris, France.

Cape Cod, MA.

Cape Cod, MA.

Maybe one of the worst performance categories for mobile photography has always been lowlight. However, that can’t really be said for some of the newer phones. I mean c’mon now, there are literally phones that can take pictures of the freaking MILKY WAY. If you shoot in well-lit urban scenery, like the picture on the far right, then you should have no issue getting ultra crispy results.

On top of the fact that there are loads of photographers out there who started out on their phones, did you know that there are people who shoot exclusively on their mobile devices? In fact, Luisa Dörr shot twelve separate TIME magazine covers on her iPhone. TWELVE. I think that’s all that needs to be said in terms of image quality.

If you don’t need a fancy camera, then why do you have one?

Gear and equipment are just “nice to have” items in the art world. It doesn’t matter what kind of artist you are. Whether you are a singer, a chef, a painter, a writer, or any other kind of artist, the tools you use do not make you the artist that you are.

They are merely just that: tools.

Your work and artistry are defined by your voice and your vision. The nicer equipment are just items in your toolbox that may better enhance the narrative you are weaving and, as you progress in your art career, you will have more opportunities to experiment with which tools work best for your stories.

Even though I have some nice gear, I don’t carry my camera with me most of the time, like walking to class or commuting to work. There have been countless times when I saw an amazing moment but I didn’t have my camera. So I just took the shot on my phone. Boom. That’s all.

Even on trips with the primary focus on photography, I often find myself shooting just as many frames on my phone as I do on my camera. There’s something to be said about how convenient a phone is compared to a bulky camera that you have to get out of your bag. Throughout my portfolio, there’s a few shots that I took on my phone and you probably didn't even realize.

  • Hallstatt, Austria.

  • McWay Falls, Big Sur, CA.

Lago di Braies, Italy.

Lago di Braies, Italy.

I hope that I've been able to convince you that gear is, although helpful, not the key to taking great photographs. Remember, what makes an image powerful is the story behind it. Can you make a viewer think? To feel something when they look at your photograph? Great art connects the viewer to the artist.

I sincerely hope that you’re feeling more inspired after reading this. Now go take some pictures!

SEE YOU OUT THERE

Eibsee, Germany.

Eibsee, Germany.

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