Glyphs of Time :: a blog by jarvis grant

August 15, 2012

Mobile Photography: Confessions of a Camera Snob

Le Tombeau de Daguerre

Le Tombeau de Daguerre ©Jarvis Grant

Photographic technology has always spurred controversy in the art world. First here was photography itself. When photography first came on the scene in 1839, it was supposed to bring the death of painting, drawing, and art as we know it.  Now anybody could create an image. What was a true artist to do? Then film came along and replaced big cameras and glass plates. Now anybody could create an image! What was a real photographer to do? Then came portable 35mm roll film cameras you could fit in your pocket. They replaced large format 4×5 sheet film cameras. What was a real photographer to do? Next came color photography, how unnatural was that? Real photographs are made in black & white. Then came Polaroid’s instant photography. Instant photography no darkroom? Hell, now anybody can take a picture without even waiting a week to get their pictures back. Then came digital photography, replacing film. Hey, only real photos can be made with film cameras. Now anybody can take a good picture by “fixing” it in Photoshop. What’s a real photographer to do?

Well now it seems that photo tech has arrived at a new  paradigm, the mobile phone–camera.  With this new development in photo tech, you don’t even need a camera! What’s a real photographer to do?! For the past seven years, phone cameras have evolved from a dinky two megapixel joke to a decent eight megapixel creative tool.  Phone cameras have grown from novelty toys to the voice of people toppling dictatorial requiems around the world.  Now that almost everybody is carrying a video camera and a still camera in their pocket, web services like Faop for selling iPhone images as stock and ScoopShot as spot news cuts into the stock photography and photojournalism business model for many established photographers.

Now, I have been a long time camera snob when it comes to mobile photography and photography in general.  When all the hype about the iPhone came out I was a skeptic. Then when all of the accessory  and equipment hype came out, I thought there were a lot of folks drinking the Apple Kool-Aid! I mean why would any body want to put a $1000 plus Nikon or Canon DSLR lens on an iPhone? What’s the point. Get a camera! It’ll be easier to handle, give you more control, and will possible be smaller than having a five inch DSLR lens dangling from an iPhone. And don’t even mention an iPad tablet!

However, this past winter I went to a NAPP event at the Washington Convention Center and ran into my friend, classmate, and fellow creative pro Lorenzo Wilkins. He casually showed me some pictures from a recent trip he made on his iPhone. Man, I was blown away! Lorenzo’s images looked really good. At that moment I got the whole iPhone portfolio thing. I’ve seen lots of iPhone pics but was never really that impressed. I always felt people were showing off the phone not their images.

About a month ago I was forced to upgrade my old HTC Diamond Touch to a HTC EVO 4G LTE. The Touch Diamond finally died after 5 years of good service, but I never really used the Touch’s camera. It was okay, but not for taking real photos. I only used its 3 megapixel camera for visual note taking.  Then my daughter, Maya,  told me about Instagram and how she was using it to get her digital painting out into the world. So, I downloaded the app and started to play around with it. It was quite intriguing. Once I got used to it and my phone’s camera, I began to come up with a couple of good shots. Then I just naturally stated to see how to better manipulate the camera’s controls, along with finding photo apps that allowed more image processing contols beyond Instagram’s filter set.

So now I’m at the point were I believe that phone-cams can be creative professional tools. I still believe that a real camera will offer up better results faster that a phone-cam. I just don’t dismiss phone-cams as merely toys for people who are too cheap or lazy to use a traditional camera. I now stand on the opposite side of the mobile photography argument. Well, at least I’m beginning to see the other side’s perspective.


October 30, 2010

Coming Home and PhotoPlus Expo

New York City and the Harlem River

Leaving Penn Satation on my way to the New Rochelle station.

I came back to New York to take care of some family business and to attend PhotoPlus Expo 2010 on Monday. The train ride from DC was a bit more crowed than normal for a Monday afternoon. I was oblivious to most of it as I slipped in and out of cat naps, while two Swedish ladies sitting next to me had non-stop conversation. I didn’t realize how tired I was from a week finishing up projects and prepping for family meetings  with my Mom, daughter, and my Mom’s lawyer. Being back in Westchester to see my family is good, and I’m fortunate that everyone is OK. Looking after your aging parents and adult children, seems to be a missing part from the manual of adulthood people never  remember to tell you about. Yet, as a creative professional I seem to be figuring it out well enough.

On a lighter side of my NY trip, there was my annual trip to PhotoPlus Expo, which I think of as Toy-R-Us for photographers. There were no toys on my list this year, but I was looking forward in checking out new technologies with inkjet papers and Print on Demand books. I also attended a couple of seminars, Publish Your Photo Book, with Darius D. Himes and Mary Virginia Swanson, and  Affordably Simple Marketing: Best Practices for Marketing Your Creative Business, with  Juliette Wolf Robin of FoundFolio. I always like checking out the conference seminars, there’s always something to learn. I was also thinking of checking out John Paul Caponigro’s Book Publishing: From Concept to Bound Book. I ran into Ken Hipkins on the expo floor Friday. He informed me that he wanted to check that one out too, but it had sold out. I was thinking about it, but felt I know as much about design as JP, and I’d save myself $80.00! (No offense JP!).  Also ran into Welton Dolby and Lorenzo Wilkins musing over carbon fiber tripods on the expo floor.

At this writing, I’m still in NY, or I should say, Mt. Vernon, NY. Catching up with a couple of my buds, and hanging out with them in the Village. We’ll see what happens with Halloween Eve on Saturday night. Should be pretty interesting. Even though we’re a bit older when we would go to the Fillmore East oh those many years ago. But as Bernstein said, or really Comden and Green, “It’s a Wonderful Town”!

Friday morning on Metro-North

Friday morning on Metro-North, heading to PhotoPlus Expo. Just leaving the 125th Street Station going to Grand Central Station.