Professional Photographers Are Now Offering Cameraphone Courses

Professional Photographers Are Now Offering Cameraphone Courses

The omnipresence of camera phones and their prospect of "replacing" professional cameras has caused an uneasy stir within the photographic community. And now adding to this agitation are a few professionals who are offering photography workshops based on shooting with smartphone cameras.

Just five years ago, would this even have seemed possible?

The very idea of a "phone photography" class would still seem absurd to many professional photographers. But with advancements in technology coupled with adult smartphone ownership now having passed 80%, more of the public sees these everyday tools as a means of capturing professional-level photos. It's only natural that more people are are interested in learning how to properly shoot with camera phones, as companies add on more features and customized settings to their mobile gadgets.

Staying current with popular tastes and commercial trends is always a good idea, even as any current trends may involve degrees of error and naiveté. The sophistication of software and features in camera phones is gradually increasing, and once-simple touchscreen features are expanding. Not every camera phone is as fully automatic as it used to be.

Taken on an iPhone XS. Image by Fstoppers editor Ryan Mense.

A recent Chicago Tribune article features two notable veteran photographers from the Midwest who have embraced the era of camera phone photography and are now offering a crash course in the medium. Classes range from the topics of selecting the proper phone, lighting (assumed natural or "hot lights,") and properly holding camera phones, to the transfer, storage, and editing of images.

Despite the fact that, given the proper ambient conditions, camera phones can capture impressive images, there are still many limitations holding back these cameras from replacing professional gear. We can expect camera phone limitations to be gradually reduced over the years, but by then professional gear will also have developed further. The race continues on.

Taken on an iPhone XS. Image by Fstoppers editor Ryan Mense.

An untrained eye is less likely to notice the finer differences between professional gear and camera phones. As for image quality, what’s "good enough" will be acceptable for the majority of today's online content creators, professional or amateur, and their large or small followings. But nearly all professional photographers and even some non-professionals will remain aware of the important (if sometimes subtle) gap between the image potential of pro and amateur hardware.

How long do we have until professionals might favor mobile phone cameras over their bulkier DSLRs, mirrorless or even compact options? I think this will depend on several factors: the development of sensor quality, ability to sync with strobe (studio) flash, and most importantly, optics. Cell phones still have a long way to go.

Please share your own projections in the comment section below.

Scott Mason's picture

Scott Mason is a commercial photographer in Austin specializing in architectural imaging.

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And I thought I hated physics class... :-)

I think that for bigger images, for posters, for the real HQ work - the smartphone can never replace the APS-C/Full Frame camera. But it's capable of taking more than good enough pictures - even for pro-usage. It depends from case to case. I do prefer a real camera - just due to the grip you miss with the smartphone. The format of a tablet or smartphone is not suited for filming nor photo-taking unless you start to use systems to put your smartphone in. And then you have to carry those with you - and you degrade yourself again to a photographical mule.

My invention will be a portable battery draining device that I take with me and it drains every phone within 50 feet so I don't have to try and look through a sea or morons trying to video a concert in front of me.

Bands make the majority of their money from touring so I doubt they love seeing their entire concerts in crap-a-vision on youtube when they can be selling a high quality version of their show. Or how many people skip going and just watch for free on the web?

I'm a professional photographer in London and have been managing my own commercial and social photography business for 10 years. I've also been running workshops on "Tips for how to take better smartphone photography for your business" since 2017 and run them at the British Library's Business and IP Centre.
The need for professional level photography will always be there, but we live in the world of the instant, the selfie and the fakery of filters so reasonably decent images viewed on a device will be OK and acceptable. The cameras in the latest iPhone, Samsung and Huawei devices are mind-blowing, and with a few tweaks and tips the average snap can become an award-winning image but I am not ready to hang up my D850 or Z7 just yet...