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
nice work man,,,,,love it.....really awesome!
Gosh...these pics make me want to see if she'll model on my personal pole even more...
Or see if she'd do a personal porn shoot with/for me...
It's kind of self contradictory, you said you can take good pictures even with the iphone. Just go outside and shoot great pictures in normal light, andavaerage light conditions, not on a studio with profesional equipment. Unfortunately for me i saw at the header that the pics were taken with an iphone so i knew the color didn't look so rich, the noise, etc. But still even without reading it I think is obvious that the camera quality wasn't very good.
Good post, but why kicking the Olympus users in the balls? If ditching one specific brand for that, you've got to have a good reason, and you have to tell us why. Otherwise, it's on the wrong side of funny.
I'd love to see a photoshoot done on the new iPhone 4.
Loved it, now I have to swap my 3G with my wife's 3GS and she'll be so unhappy about that. Great stuff. Cant help admiring and laughing at the same thought.
Great job. Makes me wish the iPod Touch had a camera.
Awesome! I always say it's not the camera, but the lighting! You guys did a great job explaining that! Love the video!
iPhone 3G photo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/taodutra/3379163620/
Congrats on getting the front page of YouTube today.
Hey Lee, LOVED this video! Great work, keep it up.
And here's a couple pictures I took with my CRAPPY 2.0 MEGAPIXEL MOTOROKR E6!
You are such a tool, incredible.
dude that was epic
this is a mis fire...comes of very cocky
i'm not knocking the skill
but this missed the point of the general argument
a pro camera is equipment, it's a better tool,
but all that lighting and rigging, not to mention buying flood lights just for the shoot?
all equipment and all better tools
tool/equipment costs money; something regular people don't/won't invest in
thus it's much harder to get great photos that effortlessly
(next time snapping pix round town with your iPhone - bring two huge flood lights.
Better yet support the economy buy the flood lights when you need them. cheap at only $50 each)
on the other hand the model was lovely
Quite astonishing results!
Great Shots! You proved your point!
So, I saw this and thought, wow, all I need now is to invest in some really good lighting, a model, hair and makeup, and a touch up studio. Shit, the cheapest part of it all would be the high quality camera gear. This is not want I wanted to focus on, I just thought it was funny to hear...
Almost a year ago, I started my own iPhone photoblogging site, lensify.wordpress.com, to see if I can turn the iPhone pics from my 3G into something worth printing out. Using Photoshop and other free iPhone apps coupled with the terrible camera, I was able to do some decent prints from it.
Great post, regardless of irony, from Fstoppers, and the model was hot to look at so that's awesome.
"It doesn't even shoot RAW"
Hilarious. Nice video, very informative. My day job is a video editor, but I've began to dabble in photography on the side. Mainly food, babies, and brides (but only when coerced).
It's all about the lighting. You've proved your point very nicely and over the top. This is why cameras like the d70s still rock - 1/500s sync speed, pop on a $100 50 f/1.8 and get some light modifiers, you can really shoot some nice things. The point that a lot of people are missing is that you don't need a $2600 dollar 5d Mk II and $1800 85 f/1.2, you can get by with much less, heck a basic studio kit:
d70s, 50mm f/1.8, SB-28s and cybersyncs plus a couple of light mods will have you shooting for under a grand. DIY spirit is where it's at. For example, I shoot all my product shots on a $50 dollar DIY shooting table: Why Not!
I am a broke college student, last year my best friends asked me to shoot their wedding... I took a class, and got a crummy canon rebel valued at 300 dollars. I am new to all this, but I would love for you to check out what my cheap camera can do!!! I hope to get a better one when I'm out of school and can afford to, but for now, this little guy is capturing all my beautiful friends pretty well.....
Also, side note, guy doing the shoot... kinda cute...
Brilliant! As an owner of a 5DM2 & 85 f/1.2, this is a cold splash of water in the face... I obviously should be selling camera bodies & lenses and buying lights, stands, modifiers, continuous, etc. plus investing in relationships with models, hair & makeup people, etc. and THEN get out there, SHOOT, and publish the images. Point made. Not sure how many people out there will accept this realization and act on it going forward...
My conclusion is different: no, you don't need an expensive camera. What you need is expensive lightning, an expensive model, expensive hair and make up, an expensive post artist...
Good work with the iphone.....Apple's got another feather in their crown....by you.
Soon I will try and you can find my pictures here;;;
I'm really blown away but this, the photos look amazing. (obvisouly it shows your skill as a photographer) but its an amazing post!
Mark B Brown
now i only need a bunch of good lights
Hmm.. why apple products always landed in people with a good taste..
All the buzz today focuses on the camera and technology...what they all seem to miss is what you have proven: that since Nadar to today and until tomorrow,the quality of imagery is not in the camera but in the LIGHTING..it's all about " light,camera,action" and in that order.
Great photography starts with great lighting and those who master it can shoot with anything..
What is the music playing in the video?
simply tecnologic for beatiful photography....
view sample cellular htc hero:
yep ... sure ... it doesent mather if you took the picture with the iPhone, you used lights of more than 1000 $ and the pictures wore procesed in photoshop by a profesional level.
And you sead : is not about heaving good equipment, is not about knowing all the fancy softweare" and you used photoshop (SOFTWEARE) and diferent ligt setups in studio (EQUIPMANT)
WTF? you dont know what you are taking about?
sorry my english :D
So the moral of the story is, you don't need an expensive camera...just lots of lighting, studio gear and some PhotoShop skills.
But regardless, great results..bravo. :)
Awesome! This video proves lighting is everything. The only thing though is that you said it's not about the equipment, but obviously it is. You have all kinds of lighting equipment which really allowed the iPhone to take great shots, plus it was on a tripod.
Amazing :D. The model is great to.
Impressive, thanks for that. Great video
amazing photos and video! i was wondering what video program you used to put it together because i love it! :D keep up the good work and hope to see more. :)
Wow...this is great...thanks for sharing...For me this is back to the root true meaning of photography...'Drawing with Light'
Awesome video! haha
Coole Fotos : )
Fun video, beautiful photos. Still, it shouldn't be surprising that it's all about the talent (really kudos to you), lighting and doing studio shots takes out the issue of distracting backdrops out of the equation.
I used the <a href="http://blog.phatbabyphotography.com/2009/12/zany-zoe-day-in-life.html" rel="nofollow">iPhone to do a full fledged video</a> (not nearly as cool as this) just to see what could be done and got some great perspectives.
amazing video. =]
p.s. song was 'this too shall pass' by OK GO, for those wondering.
Good Job! But Now I know How important the lighting is for a great shoot. I wish I had that setup. Thanks for sharing.
As it was said by an award winning photographer "The best camera in the world is the one you have on you". If you can't get over the technical specs and how you "think" things must be to take great photos you are missing the whole point, find a new day job.
Thanks guys for the great video and photo shoot. Looking forward to the cheap/natural lighting run you do later.
Michael McGrath , Photographer , Ireland . I always use a Bronica SQA for Exhibition size prints .
But there's no doubt that Lee proved that Lee Morris is a fabulous photographer !
And he's right , Sony brought out an absolutely fabulous cheapie DSLR camera last September , tthe Sony Alpha 230 with BUILT-IN ANTISHAKE . When I copped it going for 324 Euro in the local Argos here in Ireland , I rushed out and grabbed it because it would make anti-shake out of my old Minolta AF lenses - and it came with an awesome new kit lens too , the DT 18-55 SAM that must have escaped out of the Sony Zeiss shop ! While Canikon are charging the world for lenses with IS and VR built-in antishake .
And do you know what , the Internet was chock - a - block with complaints about the GRIP on that awesome little camera, for f**cks sake . ! You don't take a photo with a grip . In all of my 44 years as a photographer, I have never encountered ' photographers' who want to be molly-coddled so much right across the Internet . I wonder do they actually take photos at all , or do they simply sit at their keyboards and mouth about cameras they have never held , there's an awful lot of this snobbery about Canikon too , Lee has exposed it all for the gigantic fraud it is .
Anyway I found the cheapo Sony , looking like a million dollars space -age because of the actually cute-looking non-grip, to be the equal of a Canon 500D and Nikon D3000 , both at more than twice the price - and I have about 60 good Minolta lenses , including Sony Zeiss , to draw upon should I need them , I won't , but they would all become instant anti-shake , and at an average 50 bucks apiece compared to the equivalent Canikon at 300 .
It's all marketing from Canikon , but God do you pay for their marketing costs through the nose , and for life with every lens you buy .
I am 44 years now using Canikon , thank God I have got out of their GRIP at last . Lee has exposed them all . As for lights , get an old Courtenay for half-nothing , with a Brollie and stand , paint a wall white or whatever colour or mix you like and blaze away .
The Mill recently posted a 'making of' video showing how they made their incredible 'City Harvest' PSA with an iPhone to capture the raw footage. The rest is all rather hollywood vfx.....
The images on Flikr look interesting - the noise from the sensor, even though shot under serious levels of lighting, gives the shots a film-like appearance. But the pixel sizes seem very low for what Apple claims is a 3.2Mpixel camera - have you deliberately not posted any at full resolution?
lets see how the natural light shooting goes.
meh. photos results are dreck. either don't retouch or get a better retoucher.
as for using 'sheets' or whatever, you still gotta get them stretched into position.
you gotta understand lighting. hot lights are a bear to work with: they're *hot*.
this shoot can't be done under $300 from a standing start:
no camera, no lights, maybe you gotta sheet, how to stretch it (or them), lighting supports, sweep (paper roll background).
to me (a pro) this is a cheap shoot.
but for many out there, this is very expensive.
fine: don't get hung up on equipment. i don't.
but the only cheap thing about this shoot was the spots you bought on the day.
Dude, ur HOT! lol :)
Fabulous video and images. Great talent for sure!