Smartphones are not what they used to be. There was a time a few years back when I personally said that smartphone cameras have no place in the serious field of photography, but things have definitely changed.
More and more, cameras on smartphones are becoming very much capable of capturing images with optimal quality, and while I still firmly believe that smartphones will never replace a DSLR or a mirrorless camera as a photographer’s workhorse, it’s about time that we acknowledge its valuable place in a photographer’s arsenal.
The best camera around is always the one that’s in your hands. That’s probably one of the most used quotes when it comes to talking about photography gear, and I believe it still holds firmly true even in the age of super-capable smartphone cameras because the smartphone camera is the one camera that’s truly always in our hands. A photographer may leave his gear at home, especially on days he doesn’t expect to shoot anything, but no one ever leaves their smartphone home, at least, not intentionally. You’d be a rare gem if you do.
For the past two years, I’ve been working with Asus as a local brand ambassador for their flagship camera phones for smartphone photography. What amazes me is that as I look back, I have never really gone out to shoot with the intention of only shooting with my smartphone, and even then, I have never ended up emptyhanded, with no photos to use for various speaking engagements I’ve done for them. As I look back, this is most likely due to the fact that the smartphone has been deeply embedded into my lifestyle not just as a digital creative but as a social media citizen as well.
With over 11 years of being a photographer, I’ve come to that point that I’ve outgrown the desire to always be carrying my main camera around. Even when I travel, I’ve learned to reserve the efforts of taking out my camera for the main shoots that I’ve planned. This doesn’t mean that I don’t shoot as much when I travel, but actually, I end up taking more photos more efficiently when I find inspiration as I walk around a certain place. As a landscape photographer, I’ve learned to give exclusivity to my main camera for the more serious shoots, and my smartphone plays the key role of documenting my travels and the simple and interesting things I see walking around a certain place.This doesn’t only apply to traveling. In fact, the smartphone camera plays a bigger role in our everyday lives. When I first got my own camera, there was this burning eagerness to always be shooting. I was always looking for something nice to photograph. Now that I don’t have the same energy to always be carrying all my complicated gear, the portability of my smartphone has enabled me to shoot with the same enthusiasm but with much less physical effort.
The everyday things I see in my daily commute around my hometown are captured successfully by my smartphone camera. There may be a difference in the quality of the image, but I believe that it has never limited the amount of creativity I use in taking those photos. The smartphone has truly enabled the photography lifestyle without interruption and very few and surmountable limitations.