National Geographic Photographer on Assignment with Only His Cellphone

The Nokia Lumia 1020 was met with a lot of skepticism, and sparked yet another battle in the megapixel war.  But for a cell phone, it's hard to deny that the photos look pretty darn good.  Now when you think of National Geographic you think of incredible photographs of rarely seen places and people.  You know the photographers hired by NatGeo are the best in the world at what they do, and probably work with the best gear money can buy.  Well this time they did a little something different.  They sent a 17 year veteran out in the field with only a cell phone!  Stephen Alvarez was given a pair of Nokia Lumia 1020 phones and told to go circumnavigate the Grand Canyon and document the entire process.



What I found so interesting about this project is the level that National Geographic has taken this seemingly mundane assignment.  They've taken the work produced by Alvarez and made it into an interactive journey made by only a cell phone.  From a map with geotagged photos to behind the scenes videos (yes those too were made using the Nokia Lumia 1020).  Not to mention the talent of Alvarez behind the lens makes for a visually inspiring adventure. I don't know about you, but after seeing this, I'm inspired to get out and makes some awesomeness myself! Do you own the Nokia Lumia 1020? If so, share some of your images in the comments below!

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I was about to say that this looks like an ad, but at the end I realised this really is an ad :)

and this is why companies are firing there staff photographers for the average joe with a cell phone

so sad that FS is going this way,,,,,more and more focus on satisfying the ad sad.

It's such a shame. He went to all those beautiful places and couldn't get any night time/long exposure/milky way/light painting/time lapse/RAW photos the entire time. What a wasted journey.

Because, everyone's goal is to get light painting (what?) and timelapse night shots....I mean, if you can't do that, why even photograph!!!!!!!

I think it's just stating the obvious lacking abilities and impracticalness of only using a phone for travel. Where did it say anything about everyone's goal is anything? We, I assume, are all here as photographers, so having an ad on this site saying, "hey, leave your camera at home only only use this awesome phone" is kind of dumb and annoying.

Maybe you'll be buying one of these phones then? You're obviously impressed enough to defend it's advertising.

impractical? That's just like, your opinion man. I see it as very practical. It does everything I want/need a camera to do, and well. If it does not for you, that's your photographic style.

The goal here was to be an ad.

E Port's picture

Entirely wrong demographic. Your audience is the annoying guy on trips that brings a backpack full of gear because we don't believe in compromise.

Arturo Mieussens's picture

Sadly we've settled down with compressed audio for general music consumption. This is not good enough for the general public yet, but I'm afraid some day not too far it will.

Dont get me wrong, that seems like an awesome phone and the future of technology will move with or without you. So to the photographers that do nothing but bitch about this smartphone... STFU... Technology will always get better, smaller, faster, thinner, etc. Quit worrying and just shoot!

I do though hate that this was entirely an ad and not an unpaid opinion so yes, that part is sad.

how can he has such vivid colour from the phone

It is the artist using a tool. It's not the tool that is creating the art!

Nursultan Tulyakbay's picture

I do see this as a compact camera killer, if you need to have a phone and camera in one that is. And can settle for AT&T. For $669 I can build a decent mirrorless kit that can be pocketable or can give me far more creative options without the DSLR bulk. In fact my Panasonic GX-1 and two lenses cost me less than half of the no-contract Nokia.

What's up with all the hate? It's a smartphone that takes pictures better than you'd expect from a smartphone. It's a logical advancement in the smartphone industry. I know there's a lot of real photographers here, but real photographers have gotten pretty good at complaining about "fake" photographers and how real photographers are so misunderstood.

FStoppers gives photography news, and this is photography news. You don't have to like it, but you don't have to get so damn insulted about what comes out. This isn't YouTube, it's a photographer's forum. I would expect more mature comments.

phones have come a long way for sure. i have the galaxy s4 and it takes pretty impressive pictures 13 megapixels . i still carry 45lb of equipment in my backpack but i also have my phone i use it for panoramic shots and if something just pops up that i cant reach it in time... i always have it with me anyhow. is it the same well no... does it do a good job yes. i have people ask about my pictures and when i tell them i took those with my phone they don't believe me. if someone has to ask does it really matter?

I am not surprised by this at all from National Geographic, some of the great images found in the magazine are made with point and shoot camera, wild life camera, and now phone camera are acceptable also. It is the final image that matters period... Having the right angle, composition, time of day and light are so much more critical than the gear itself. My camera phone is just another tool in my bag. I know people that hated on Apples Iphone photos until they saw the results and you know the panoramic mode is impressive. What is wrong with some compact competition?

I think you made this "Rich Meade" Guy up and his dumbass profile picture in order that no-one else at fstoppers could be hold responsible for posting so shameless a nokia ad.

Rich Meade's picture

Ah damn, our secret is out!

It may be worth the effort of creating a whole new section of fstoppers dedicated to mobilephone (or likewise) photography, as it is defenitly here to stay. Otherwise we will have the endless discussion and meh-ing we have here everytime this topic comes up about wether or not mobile photography has a right to exist on an art or pro level, and what evil comes from it.

Guerrilla marketing for the Lumia again. It takes more for a camera phone to be good than the camera. The only way this would be a valid "review", the same photographer could have also taken pictures with his real camera and we'd see which ones were better.

RUSS T.'s picture

I do something a lot of people don't do anymore.
WITH MY cell phone, i created wonderful VERBAL conversations.
It's a beautiful thing...

As long there is no Instagram in Nokia, i want buy it

I have Lumia 920 and Canon EOS 600D. On my last vacation I only took my Lumia 920 with me.
Sure, it was impossible to take some Pictures, but on the ohter hand, my hands were free and I was not carrying that big bag with camera and lenses and stuff. I took some great photos anyway and I got many "like"s on facebook. I can tell you that nobody asked what camera did I use, I was just getting "likes" and "great photo" comments. So I guess many people relly do not care and do not see pixels and noise as professionals do. So my conclusion is that for me Lumia will do more and more....

Doesn't it rather depend on what the final application is? Sure these images look great on a computer monitor at 72 dpi but what else can you do with them? And whatever the image size is claimed by the smartphone, your final file size is generally about half of that. Sure you can get some great shots - it's the artist behind that camera that makes the difference, knowing how to compose and frame the shot - but really what's the ultimate point of this?

This blog is entirely iPhone 4s, and without Photoshop or anything of that ilk. Just composition and opportunism: