Last year I left my DSLR at home when I left on a two-week trek in Ladakh and relied on my iPhone 6s. Not because I didn’t realise Ladakh would be photogenic (I’d been before) but because with an iPhone 6, 6s or 7 I’m confident that in 90% of situations I can shoot a photo I’ll be happy with.
For me, shooting with a DSLR is about saying, “despite the amount and quality of light and shadow on the subject and background, no matter how far away I am from the subject and whether it is moving or stationary, I am going to shoot exactly the photo I want.” Given sufficient accessories (and my gear was getting carried by mountain ponies so I could take as much as I wanted) when I’m shooting with a DSLR, all the power is mine and I can shoot whatever I want.
Shooting with my iPhone, I need to compromise. I won’t be able to take any shot I want in some situations. I may need to move or wait for a while so the subject is lit from a different direction, get closer to it, bounce a head torch off it. It might take further work in post- to get something I’m happy with. The subject and the background and the scene don’t have all the power over what I photograph, but they have more power over my result than if I was carrying a DSLR.
If I were a pro or semi-pro photographer, I’d have to shoot according to the brief I’d been given, and I’d need a DSLR and accessories in order to achieve that brief despite the prevailing conditions of the shoot.
But since I’ve started shooting primarily on my iPhone I’ve learned an important thing about myself: mostly, I’m shooting to help me remember; where I was, what I saw with my eyes and brain, who I was with, and what it felt like to be there.
Personally, I’m not making great art or even trying to. I’m helping myself recall emotions, tastes, sounds, smells and textures from the past.
I don’t need a DSLR and accessories for that, but my iPhone is perfect because, not having a brief or a plan, the moments I photograph are mostly unexpected, sudden, and (just as suddenly) gone before I’ve reacted.
I’ll be fascinated to see how much better the results will be from the iPhone 7 Plus with its twin lenses and optical zoom but I will need to carefully consider whether I really want to carry around a larger iPhone in order to achieve that. Smaller is more beautiful to me.
I think when we look back on today’s Apple product launch it will be the AirPods we realise were the most significant announcement. But that’s for another blog post and in the meantime, I will definitely upgrade from 6 to iPhone 7.