Mobile phones offer photographers a fresh perspective
As the novelty of smartphone cameras wears off their role as a serious part of a photographer's toolkit is becoming increasingly common. More professionals are turning to mobile photography as another way to supplement the way they work. We look at how some photographers are using their most mobile cameras to stay relevant, get close and find a new perspective.
A new angle on sports photography
At the 2012 London Olympic Games, photojournalist Dan Chung decided to use only his iPhone to document the various sporting events. According to Chung, the phone enabled him to achieve interesting angles and squeeze into tight spots in the crowded photographers’ pit.
Chung made the iPhone work for him in this fast-paced, demanding environment by harnassing its advantages wherever possible.
At the pool events, peering underwater at the swimming lanes, Chung was able to lie the phone flat against the glass, reducing reflections and distortion while also staying out of the way of other photographers with their big glass lenses.
In this shot, taken during the marathon event, Chung shot from ground level and used the iPhone’s snug lens position to almost touch the water in the puddle. The result is a highly effective angle on the gruelling race.
Chung was also able to manipulate the iPhone’s low light limitations to his advantage. The resulting blur in these shots adds movement and drama to his photographs taken in the table tennis and gymnastics arenas.
Up close and personal on the frontline
Well-known photojournalist Damon Winter takes his mobile phone with him to cover conflict on the front line, explaining that using his phone allows him to get closer to his subjects. In an interview with Poynter, Winter states that a number of images in his A Grunt’s Life photo series, of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, would not have been possible without his camera phone.
In one example, Winter tells Poynter: “The image of the men all resting together outside on a rusted bed frame would never have been made with my regular camera. They would have scattered the moment I raised my 5D with a big 24-70 lens attached. The men were very comfortable with the phone, and it always got a laugh from them when they would see me shooting with it, with professional cameras hanging from my shoulders.”
Another photojournalist, Theodore Kaye, while not covering war zones, also uses a mobile phone when shooting on assignment throughout Central Asia. Kaye has found that the low-profile of the phone helps him get a more intimate perspective of everyday life, including urban regeneration, generational divides and a resurgent Islam throughout the region.
Freedom in the Australian wilderness
When shooting in the Australian bush, wildlife photographer Kaisa Breeden often reaches for her mobile phone to complement her SLR shots. According to Breeden, the phone provides a lot of physical freedom, and is unique in that any accessories such lenses and tripods are relatively inexpensive. In an interview with ABC Australia, Breeden revealed that using a mobile phone is particularly helpful for taking photos of rare (and shy) wildlife, such as the baby cassowary (a large native bird to Australia and Papua New Guinea) in this shot:
“The iPhone is unobtrusive … it doesn’t look threatening so you can get down to the ground to get a baby cassowary’s eye view,” says Breeden. She believes that shooting up-close or “macro” helps broaden the photographer’s perception of nature: “By looking closely, the world gets bigger and even more wondrous and absorbing.”
Are you a professional photographer who has found a unique or novel use for a mobile phone camera in your toolkit? We’d love to see your work.
Misho Baranovic, @mishobaranovic, has worked as a photographer for many years and is prominent in the emerging practice of mobile photography. His street photography has been exhibited internationally and in 2011 he held his first solo exhibition, New Melbourne, in Melbourne, Australia. He is a founding member of the Mobile Photo Group, and the author of iPhone Photography.
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