The purpose of photography serves to capture a moment in time and present it to an audience. Traditionally, these moments were shot on film and processed, which was costly. Then came the digital shift that required time to grade, retouch, and print images. Photography was revolutionized with the smartphone. This communication device complete with camera was pocketable, fun, and easy to use. According to Time Magazine, “The smartphone is a device that is for communication; therefore, it makes perfect sense that a new kind of photography would evolve from that.”
The rise of smartphones had a major impact on the way we use and view photography. A 2019 Pew Research report explains that 81% of Americans own smartphones and 69% capture photos with their phones. These photographs fell into two dimensions: affective (conveys emotion) versus functional (aids in the completion of a task), and social (intended to share with others) versus individual (for oneself). Smartphones are being used in photography today in a variety of ways.
Web upload & Accessories
In our image conscience society, we record everything from lavish meals to exotic vacations. Contemporary milestones like weddings, graduations, vacations, family gatherings, sporting events, and other memories are being snapped and shared with ease. Candid and planned shots are both possible and nothing is safe from a quick snap or video with a smartphone camera. No resizing is needed as the digital images are easily uploaded to the web: social media sites, blogs, websites, or shared with family and friends.
Smartphones are smaller and less intimidating and perfect for catching that unexpected photo opportunity from a friend’s proposal to damage from a car wreck. The military and law enforcement agencies are using smartphones in their everyday jobs to capture video and images from a drone to see what is over the next hill or to follow a getaway car in rugged terrain. Real estate and property developers commonly use them for God’s eye views of commercial and residential property. Fundraisers use smartphones to show 3-D image to attract potential donors.
Smartphones further function as a camera capable of capturing a moment in time and distributing it all over the world in a matter of seconds. Photography is made less difficult with additional smartphone gear. There are a multitude of lenses to fit over your smartphone so that you can capture striking images. Cases are designed to protect smartphones specifically for photography complete with premier lenses that are ergonomic and easier to grip. Wireless remotes, tripods, and stabilizers are making it simpler to set up for that perfect picture.
Smartphones have incorporated technologies that rely on algorithms to adjust parameters for optimizing specific situations. This includes high dynamic range imaging (HDR), auto-focus (AF), image stabilization, shot bracketing, and the ability to deploy various filters. HDR enable photographs in dark or dimly lit area to seem brighter and less grainy. The portrait mode sharpens a subject while blurring the background. Another feature permits for multiple frames to be fused into a single image, so that even novice users can achieve excellent results.
Notes & Geotagging
A lot of preparation and planning go into capturing the perfect moment. Smartphones allow for storing lists. You can add information to your notes and later email, text or save these details. Camera setting details like background and light source can be saved. This devise stores, backs-up your photos, and even allows you to save the location of the shot. Geotagging is an added feature that permits one to scout possible venues and mark the exact spot, especially when traveling. In an unfamiliar location, you can geotag a photo or pin it, and return to your new go-to spot. Social media users even plan vacation destinations to duplicate a specific shot seen on Facebook or Instagram.
Social Media & Apps
Social media platforms are viewed on small devices with lower resolution, which has changed the way we view photography. The convenience of smartphones and the connectivity to social media enables a seamless experience for users to shoot, process, share, view, like, and comment. Filters and editing features visually amplify photographs and change perspectives. Less emphasis is on the sharpness and clarity of a photo with more on the realism. Several platforms are structured to only post photos from the smartphone. Popular media categories include: selfies, friends, and activities. Such photographs allow for reminiscence and self-reflection. To gain more followers, a variety of apps exist to transform images to RAW format or change elements like exposure, clarity, and contrast for social sharing.
Collaboration & Sharing
Smartphones are expanding the reach of photography to create communities where contributors can collaborate. Photography can be posted to forums to market a business; share and receive feedback; stay up to date with trends and gadgets; and to gain more exposure. 500px and Flickr have street and black and white photography themes where collaborators and clients can share. The growth in smartphones around the world connects more people by allowing spontaneous access to a camera, creating roaming photojournalists who capture news events within minutes.
Portraiture & Selfies
Portrait artist focus on the eyes of a subject as they create a painting. This same technique is used by selfie takers. According to researchers at City, University of London; the University of Parma; and the University of Liverpool, people who take selfies also tend to make their eyes the center-point of their work. It is believed that the gaze of the eyes provide information about the mood and thoughts as well as selfie poses. Here smartphones convey the same style as portrait artists.
In 1839, Robert Cornelius took a self-portrait daguerreotype. This style was later coined “selfie” by an Australian group who dedicated an entire website to the concept. This cultural phenomenon grew through the use of smartphone cameras, with 55% of millennials having posted a selfie. Today, even grandmothers of millennials have begun to take selfies.
Smartphones may teach us to enjoy photography again. The award-winning photographer Chase Jarvis once coined the phrase “the best camera is the one that’s with you.”