This is the Blog of Swiss Photographer Nicolas Henri

Snap Happy


I have never been a fan of cell phone cameras. The images look like s*%?. As a photographer, when you take a camera in your hands, you turn into man or woman with a mission. You are out to create great imagery. At the same time things get complicated, because being photographer you aspire for quality. You start worrying about angles, composition, light, exposure, expression… So why would anyone even bother with a cell phone camera, where a lot (not all) of your photographic concerns simply can’t be addressed?

You end up with a small, noisy, usually badly exposed, shaky image. Hell, you can’t even make decent prints of them… unless you’re going for fine art printing on stamps!

I recently started doing it anyway. Not for client or personal work of course, but perhaps just to keep my eye more alert, scanning my everyday world for decent snaps. When looking through my iPhone camera roll recently I discovered, that these pictures have something about them, which I don’t find in my other work. (And I don’t mean technical quality here.) I think it has something to do with just the fact, that quality concerns go right out the window. With the exception content and composition. In a way it forces you to a more basic, perhaps more pure level of photography. It’s a little like shooting with a Holga camera, where based on poor build quality, you never quite know what you get and you stop to care and jut see what happens.

I’m not saying you should all toss your 5D Mark II’s and D3’s on eBay, but I believe it can make you better photographer, when you start to let go of the technical quality obsession from time to time and just let things happen. Knowing that you can do that, lets you see things and moments around you, which might have passed by unnoticed otherwise - simply because you didn’t have your tank of a camera, softboxes and reflectors set up. And in the end, you might just bring a bit of that mindset back to the big and important shoots (where all your gear IS on the ready) and catch just that moment where the model gracefully scratches her ankle, bringing a human element into anotherwise synthetic fashion shoot… you get the idea.

I leave you with a few of my recent iPhone snaps. These were “enhanced” in camera so to speak, with a neat little free app for the iPhone called Polarize. It basically trashes down your images even more plus adding a nifty Pola frame to it. There’s even a flickr group for images shot with it.

Snap happy!

Posted by nicolas_henri on March 26th, 2009 :: Filed under Artist Technique, Photography
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3 Responses to “Snap Happy”

  1. Beat.
    March 26th, 2009

    Really enjoyed your post and the pictures..! Thanks for the thoughts. Funny to find out, that sometimes decreasing the quality level can bring you one stage further, isn’t it.

  2. Thierry
    April 3rd, 2009
  3. Ralf
    November 6th, 2009

    This pictures shows again that it is not possible to make good photos with the iPhone or other mobile phones at the moment.
    The quality is really low - strong noise and bad colours. The lens is just too small for reasonable results.

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