Just five years ago I started down the path of photography and it's been some of the best professional and personal years of my life thus far. It has opened up my creativity to a whole new way of thinking which has added great value in the day job of design and advertising. Sparking my interest in this field was Instagram. Like many others in 2011, it was the iPhone that challenged me and helped me hone my skills over the years but I always wanted to get my hands on a full frame after talking with so many professionals. This year I finally did it. Here is how I feel professionals and even those starting out can maximize using both a DSLR and iPhone in a professional setting.
To begin I have to be honest and say that the iPhone has not always been my only camera but rather my preferred and most used camera when shooting both personally and professionally. It's likely because it is that always-in-your-pocket mentality or that it's the camera I feel most comfortable with, having started with it. After the first year of shooting I grabbed a cheap Canon body and the one and only 50 f/1.8 lens as a start. That camera lasted me all the way through the end of 2015 where I had the option to finally put a few extra dollars towards the setup I had always wanted: a Canon 6D (full frame) paired with the Sigma 35 1.4 Art. In my eyes I have the perfect setup for me without going overboard, which I have seen happen when photographers start out and feel gear is the way to great photos.
So you might be asking why I would still use my iPhone in a professional setting even after grabbing a fully capable setup like the 6D and Sigma 35? Or why would I go and buy a full-frame camera if I make a majority of my money using simply an iPhone? Let me explain in a little more detail below why I chose this setup and hopefully if you are either a professional or just starting out you can pick up a few tricks and tips on using the iPhone to its fullest potential.
An Instagram Following Helps, But Only So Much
I've been able to make a solid go at using nothing more than my iPhone to pull in clients such as Harry's Razors, General Electric, Mashable, Xbox, and even Apple. All of these clients were attracted to my work via Instagram. Though my following is larger than some, it has not always been that way. I had built my following by simply taking good photos along the way using, you guessed it, my iPhone. It was that simple fact that got me ahead on social and has helped me learn how to communicate with clients and allow them to understand I use my phone to take photos.
Sure my following helps, but it becomes more clear when talking with clients that you must be able to communicate and set expectations going into any project and that calls for the simple act of professionalism and respect.
Communication is Key
As funny as it sounds I have been hired to shoot senior photos and even weddings, and when the day comes to shoot the client will ask "I thought you only shot with an iPhone?" It becomes clear that communication is more important than ever as I work professionally in the realm of both iPhone and DSLR work. Even though in my eyes those two worlds are one and the same, it is not always clear with clients. You have to be able to know when and where to use either camera system. I have gotten away with quite a few shoots with only the phone, including a professional soccer game, but it's not ideal and that situation is better suited for a DSLR.
In this case it was mainly for social media work and advertising I was able to generate some solid images for the client. Personally I wish I could go back and use a huge zoom lens with a crazy fast shutter speed but I don't regret my decision. The end result would have been the same as the client loved the work and thought highly enough to want to hire me back for next season.
Where I Plan to Use and Not Use My New Full-Frame DSLR
It's been a point of discussion with many people on what clients I decided to use my phone versus my camera, but in the end I simply wanted to create great images for my clients no matter what I used. How do I look to differentiate the two when shooting? I'm not quite sure yet considering I have had this camera for about a week, although I've got a pretty good idea.
It starts with the glass. The Sigma 35 1.4 is brilliant in low light and will easily fill in those projects that need great depth at events, weddings, and on the base level, more portrait shoots. Another big point of using the DSLR is the dynamic range which ranks highly in the Canon lineup currently. Being able to save darks from shots while editing in Lightroom is a huge plus compared to the iPhone, which has piss poor dynamic range and needs to be shot perfectly for editing on the go. Though editing on the go is hands down the best feature on the iPhone as I am able to shoot, edit, and share all in one place, the DSLR market is catching up with Wi-Fi enabled cameras. That is where I will begin to use my 6D more often than my iPhone. The speed in which it transfers photos to my mobile device is brilliant and I have no idea why more pro level cameras don't have it.
So Why Did I Buy a Full-Frame DSLR If the iPhone Has Worked So Well?
In the end, I wanted control. I weighed the options over the last 18 months shooting with a lesser Canon body paired with my trusty iPhone and found that a few key pieces were very important to me going forward. Those features I have marked below.
- Dynamic range and depth
- Wi-Fi enabled
- Weight and build quality
- User interface
Having been familiar with Canon I decided to go that direction solely for the fact I know it and I know it well. The other factors in going with the 6D specifically were that it holds a solid build quality with weather sealing along with a solid weight well below the 5D for on-the-go shooters like myself. I pride myself on a minimal setup and you can read more about that here, but I wanted something light and powerful at the same time. The full-frame sensor along with the great weight are perfect in my eyes. Adding the Wi-Fi capability makes this a triple threat as I am able to shoot, quickly transfer, edit, and then post to social quickly all while saving the highest quality image possible.
My setup is not perfect but it's pretty damn close to perfection for me and many shooters in the same market as myself both professionally and just starting out. After my recent article on shooting with nothing more than an iPhone professionally I can't wait to push the limits with the new gear and see where it takes me. Knowing that it's not the gear but rather the photographer that makes the image, it does help when envisioning something and not having the right tools to make that happen and I feel the new 6D can do that paired with the Sigma 35.
I hope you found this article helpful and can see the importance of pacing yourself when buying gear. In my case, I spent a little more time than I had wished to get to this point but I'm really glad I waited and weighed all the options. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and hit me up with any questions or comments you might have with my methods as I take this journey from almost strictly iPhone photographer to a more professional level.