Early camera phone examples

I was very easily converted from the expensive gear-heavy and highly technological world of Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) photography when I first got my camera phone. Chase Jarvis, the author of this book, had a similar epiphany. Here there are many of his early camera phone photographs to illustrate his contention that the best camera is the one that is always with us, and even more now than was the case ten years ago when Jarvis wrote the book that camera is very likely to be part of the amazing technological marvel which is the camera phone.

Of course the camera phone has its limitations. Even now the greatest limitation is that mobile phone photographers do not have ready access to convenient wide-angle or especially telephoto lenses, which is why I have recently given him and bought a bridge camera purely for the remarkable long lens zoom). But back in Jarvis’s early days one of the perceived limitations was the small image resolution. All the photographs which Jarvis uses to illustrate his book came from his early iPhone. He doesn’t specify the model, but it is likely to have been an iPhone 3G with a two-megapixel resolution.

That would have limited the resolution of his photographs, but I have to say that most of them in this book simply look blurred rather than of the low resolution, and I think he was aiming for artistic effects. Certainly some of his subjects and the treatment of them supports that view. I readily admit that my preference is for images that have something which is reasonably well defined, and which has a good range of tones – I grew up with Ansel Adams’s Zone System – so I am not impressed by the images in the book.

But his introduction is worth reading to support the idea that “photography can escape the technical trappings of so many other artistic endeavours. Is accessible, nearly ubiquitous today. And it’s given us an opportunity – more than ever before in history – to capture moments and share them with our friends, families, loved ones, or the world at the press of a button.” And very short notes inserted occasionally in between the images are also motivational. For example:

  • There are at least 10 great pictures waiting to be taken within 10 m of where you are standing right now
  • Every Photographer Takes Crappy Pictures, Every Painter Paints Crappy Paintings, and Every Actor Blows the Lines. What Really Matters Is That You’re out There, Sending Stuff into the World
  • Some pictures tell stories. Others ask questions
  • If you don’t think you can take a picture of something with a certain camera, you’re playing by the rules
  • The dirtiest secret in photography: shoot a hell of a lot of pictures to get the ones you want
    There’s an old adage in photojournalism: “f/8 and be there.” Now we don’t even have to remember the “f/8” part

A half-dozen quotations from Chase Jarvis’s book to give a flavour of the advice he gives. I learned a great deal from this book, and I hope that he might one day bring out a new edition with updated – and by my taste, better – photographs.