A few weeks ago I did a full fashion photo shoot with my iPhone 3gs. I posted a few of the images and asked people to critique them (never exposing that they were shot on my cell phone). I couldn't help but laugh when a few of our readers claimed that these were "the best images I had ever taken." Nobody ever claimed that they were too grainy, too soft, or lacked detail.
So before I say anything else let me start by saying; I created this video to simply show that you should not be limited by your camera. Obviously there was a lot that went into this shoot including a professional model, hair and makeup, a studio, lighting, and a retoucher. We may create another video in the future where we shoot with only natural light but this video is simply about the camera. There are so many photographers who are obsessed with noise, sharpness, color, dynamic range, megapixels, chromatic aberration, moire, distortion, etc. So many photographers get wrapped up in the technical side that they forget how to take compelling images. This video is for them.
So a few months ago I called Olivia Price; "Hey Olivia, would you be willing to let me do a full photoshoot with you but I'm only going to use my iPhone camera." I had worked with Olivia before, and I must have gained her trust because even though she was very busy she agreed to model for me. Luckily, we set up the shoot right before she was scheduled to move to LA to continue her acting career.
Next I called the local high end hair salon in town, Stella Nova. Madison LeCroy and Tiffany Starnes agreed to donate their time and talent to be a part of this shoot.
I then contacted Pratik Naik of Soltice Retouch. Pratiks portfolio is mind blowing and I was thrilled when he agreed to do the skin retouching for the video.
Travis Harris, a photographer from Miami was in town for the week and he agreed to help Patrick Hall film the whole day.
I now had a full team of extremely talented people and I had yet to even test the phone's camera capability in the studio. At this point I was scared that I may be in over my head. What if the iPhone wasn't capable of creating good quality images? A few days before the shoot I called Patrick Hall over to my house to help me test out the camera. I set up a standard square beauty lighting scheme and got Patrick to stand in. I took this shot:
We were both shocked by the quality of the image. Once we uploaded the picture to the web, you couldn't even tell it wasn't shot on a DSLR. I now had the confidence I needed for the upcoming shoot.
The day of the shoot went very well. I tried to be as informative as possible in the video so I won't go into great detail here about how the images were shot. After the shoot I sent the files over to Pratik for initial retouching. Once I got the files back I gave each of the images a "look" using different photoshop techniques and filters. In the video you can see the original image, Pratik's retouching, and then my final editing.
People may claim that the original images don't look that great but I was shooting with the intent of using Photoshop afterwards. If the backdrop paper didn't fill the frame I knew I could easily fix it afterwards. With today's market being what it is I see Photoshop as a necessary tool for every image I make. I am in the business of making money and my clients do not care if I got it perfect in the camera or made it perfect in post, they simply want a perfect image. It's the same process with music. A band could record and entire album in 1 take, but what successful artist does that? Today, everyone records track by track one at a time and use software to combine them all together into a perfect mix.
A quality camera and lens is a fantastic tool to begin with but even the most expensive camera in the world is capable of taking bad pictures. When your clients view your work they aren't thinking, "Wow I don't see any chromatic aberration in this image!" They are simply thinking, "Wow, I can't put my finger on it, but this looks great!" Olivia has one of these images as her profile picture, and it already has a ton of comments like: "G-L-A-M-O-R-OUS", "LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!", you are so beautiful!!"... These are your clients; these are the people that will pay you to take an image and they are not pixel peepers. And many of you, who are photographers, even still said these are some of the best pictures I have ever taken. I can't say that I agree with that but I will say they are pretty damn good for a cell phone.
You can view all of the edited images below both as high res raw and edited images here.
Please help support Fstoppers.com by commenting below and joining the conversation on our forum here.
UPDATE: A lot of people have asked us what sort of budget equipment we could have used to create these photos. Here is a list of a few items that would make this possible on a budget:
Interfit Photographic 36" Octobox: Large enough for soft light; good on the wallet.
Pro Studio Solutions EZ Pro Strip Box softbox 12"x56" soft box with Speedring Great little strip box; this one is for Alien Bees but can be used with constant lights
Cowboystudio 24" x 36" softbox soft box for Alienbees Alien beesLarger softbox for beauty style lighting. Again, Alien Bee version
Cooper/Regent TQS1000 Twin Work Light 1000-Watt and StandThese would work so much better than our studio strobes. Just be careful with 1000 watts in a 1000 watt softbox, don't let it run too long.
For more photography by Patrick Hall and Lee Morris, check out www.patrickhallphotography.com and www.rlmorris.com
Your shots are terrific! Hope you will do it again with an iPhone4. The shots I'm getting are much better than my old 3GS.
Fantastic video guys!! killing it once again--and entertaining!
Listen, everyone that is trying to diminish the value of what they have proven in this video is clearly missing the point. It's simple--Yes you can create very cool, interesting pix if you just got off your @#% and get out and create something. Not only did they come up with the idea...but they shot it, did the behind the scenes and edited by simply just doing it--and, before most excuse makers even got their camera out of their bag. This video is clearly about making it happen with even the cheapest camera, not the all around cheapest way to do a fashion shoot. It's very clear they could have easily done a shoot using all a natural light but used a controlled environment for efficiency to make a point. It's hilarious that they make a video to squelch the naysayers, but the naysayers still find a reason to make an excuse!!
Well thank you Todd :)
I'm Alex from Italy, I saw your video and photo very very nice work!
If you comes in north italy, call me
I want to meet your beautiful model girl, i love her :D
I may come to Rome in a few months actually. Olivia isn't though ;)
My favorite part is definitely the armpit scratch at 1:38. Saaweeeeet.
Ok Lee no problem, so my wife is quite :)
If you comes to Rome you must also to go on waterland (Venice) is a beautiful city, my wife is from Venice ;)
I started works with Photoshop and 3D software for hobby when i was 13 years old, but now is not my principal work (unfortunately) :(
Man you proved your point and that the key in photography is the lighting.
When are you coming in Italy?
We can organize a coffee and a photo chat.
Amazing video, first of all.
Secondly. a lot of people are missing the point of this shoot. I see some comments critiquing the fact that the photographers are using "thousands of dollars worth of lighting kit" and that they're not impressed until this can be done with a $100 dollar IKEA gift card and an iPhone. What does that even mean? What's not impressive about using a camera phone, with a tiny sensor, and getting amazing shots like these? How is that not impressive? How is it not impressive that actual professional photographers are essentially saying "F$%k the camera, I'll do the shoot with this thing in my pocket."? I'll actually give anyone who has a good answer for that question a $100 dollar gift card to IKEA or any other scandinavian furniture store of their choice.
Quit using your camera equipment as an excuse for your bad photos. Just do the work and get better.
Nice shoot. I've been advocating this for about 9 months now...to create good photo's you don't need expensive kit. You need an idea.
I am not a professional fashion photographer but even I had a go a few months ago
Loving our work here thanks for sharing it with us all
That should have said...loving YOUR work here...not our...
Wow, brilliant guys, awesome work!! Finally, so may people look at my cameras and say you must take great photos GRRRRR, it's not the equipment it's the photographer!!!! Excellent example dude.
Love it! Great project.
One question though: what camcorder did you use for the video?
Thanks a lot
Your model is lovely, she would look gorgeous on any camera!
Still, this is a really well thought out article showcasing the capabilities of the new iPhone
This is amazing.
I just found that on strobist.com and totally fall in love with that site.
Thanks for sharing all this information with us.
It is interesting to see how much good lighting and a decent model can make a low quality camera seem better...but it's still pretty easy to see all that grainy noise from the low quality sensor. The lighting into the camera was able to distract from it a bit...but it's not hard for a photographer to spot poor digital quality like this.
You guys rock! What a great video. Next, I need you to show me how to get all the great shots without all the killer modifiers :)
Lighting. It can make all the difference in the world, especially when you're using a point and shoot.
Photo Phoul right here. I hope this makes your followers really upset. Sure. Any camera, but a couple of grand of lights. Sheeesh.
Awesome! I love seeing people get out there and go for it with non-traditional camera systems. For those interested here is a clip of a short film I shot using an iPhone 3GS. It's shaky because the style was found-footage (cloverfield/blairwitch).
Awesome video and terrific images, although I think there was a tad too much PP involved.
You guys really need to do another video with DIY or a very cheap lighting setup which is accessible and affordable to most people.
Love your work guys! Looking forward to your next project! ;)
What camera was used to shoot the video?
Gorgeous shots.. Hard to believe that’s a 3GS, either iam a Noob or under-utilizing and underestimating :)the 3gs capabilities..
and Olivia is drop dead beautiful...her pictures on the new iphone4 might definitely cause some retina burn :)
where is she from. great work Bravo
You've given new life to my iPhone! You've made a great point and I enjoyed the video. You're fun to watch and you make what you're doing understandable. I'll second the motion if you could do something more 'natural' for us laymen who carry our cell phones in our back pocket and don't have access to a studio etc. I hope that don't sound negative because I appreciate the photographer in you and I'll definitely be hoping for something like this again from you. Thanks and keep having fun!
OH my!!! I'm really Loving it!!! this video really adds the bar for me to get an iPhone!!!
Amazing! everything about the video is amazing! the concept, the lighting, the model, the music, it's all great! thanks !
Really, I think this goes to show, how close each of us are to one day being out of a photographic job....
If only I had that much lights and space at my disposal. Not to mention the kickass retouching...
Patrick & Lee,
Yall are amazing. Freaking amazing. Can't wait to see what you two come up with next!!!
Great job! Well done! The photos and the videos are both first rate. Now if you could pull this off with the Palm Pre's camera, it would take the cake!
I would say that the photos are basic and not that interesting for a fashion shoot. I would also add that you have not proven that much because these photos are achieved based on the use of light (which is a large percentage of what counts in photography). in this case, you have a lot of lighting equipment, so if you get that right, the image is possible to achieve. It is really a 'no-brainer' if you consider the original 'greats' who shot with much 'inferior' equipment
how do we upload our own phone photos?
Great work guys!!! How did you balance color temperature of the floodlights with the rest of the lights?
I agree with every thing in your video, just one dig, quit hating on the Olympus cameras, they have served me well in the wedding industry and the brides like the pictures better from them than the canons and nikons I have also shot.
Great video. It helps to remind everyone, once again, that it isn't the equipment that defines the photo, but the photographer.
Do this again with cheap lighting and shoot with the 3g/4g as well as with a semi-pro DSLR. No photoshop for either one of the cameras. The results should be considerably more interesting. Great video by the way.
I'm afraid Manuel, that at websize, the difference will be very small.
haha - worst camera fashion shooting - what a bullshit and nothing worth not even the time to spend on looking the video
why didnt you use a holga?
This just proves its more about the auxiliary equipment rather than the actual camera.
I.e. what you really need is some lights, reflectors and even backdrops and of course photoshop. Depending on what you are shooting.
Oh, and it goes with out saying... the photographer is the biggest margin of imperfection.
I have to say Lee, that was an outstanding video. No excuses, it can always be done if you challenge yourself and work with talented people. You could have still done it with natural light or even homemade Studio lighting. Excellent idea, great execution and outstanding results. Keep up the good work!
Well done you made it work ..... If you're up to the challenge maybe an outdoor shoot ? = ) Your newest BIG Fan Here
LOVE the video- hate to get off topic, but what is the song playing in the background??
Beyond a certain minimal camera threshold, for this kind of shoot you need the model and the light... and she's fabulous. Other photography, 'being there' with a camera is much more important than -which- camera. Your point is well made, a very entertaining video. I wonder how many pictures of all types are taken with the phone because that happens to be the camera available. I don't carry my DSLR's around regularly (not Olympus's, either...) but I almost always have the phone...
You totally bring up the greatest of the greatest. Fantastic video and tutorial... Awesome!
I guess I can stop being jealous at Soccer Dads and their Nikon FF dSLR's and $6,000 zoom lens at the park as I carry my Olympus dSLR with the kit lens around... ;)
Awesome work.. Love the videos & photos.. Great work..
First, i appreciated that. Actually, it is not special at all.Professional lighting, beauty only
Do another project shooting a model using no professional lighting or natural lighting. Can't wait to see that!