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Are Cell Phones Ruining Photography?

Cell Phone Photography

By Jeffrey House Photography


Cell phone photography.  Are they ruining photography?

This has become a loaded question!

This is a question and a topic of discussion that's become increasingly debated.  Regardless of which side of the fence you're on, good arguments can be made for both sides.  In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the pros and cons of cell phone cameras.  Whether you agree or disagree, hopefully everyone can gain some new thoughts and perspectives.  

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the "pros" of cell phone photography

1.  Accessibility

The majority of our population has a cell phone.  I am not aware of any cell phone - currently - that doesn't have some sort of built-in camera.  This essentially makes photography accessible to everyone.  This is great for those who enjoy photography, but don't have the money to purchase a real camera.  It's also great for those that enjoy photography on a more casual level without having to invest in camera equipment, even if money isn't an issue.

2.  Convenience

Cell phone cameras are extremely convenient.  They're small, portable, and quiet.  This is especially great when taking vacations, hiking, etc.  You don't have to worry about transporting expensive camera gear in its own bag or running the risk of it being damaged or stolen.  

3.  Exposure

Every photographer has to start somewhere.  Cell phone cameras are a wonderful way for brand new photographers to dip their foot in the "photography pool" to see if they really like it.  While a cell phone will severely limit your creative options, it will give you enough exposure to see if you truly want to pursue photography on a deeper level.  This is a lot better than spending hundreds - if not thousands - of dollars on camera equipment only to discover photography is not for you.  

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the "cons" of cell phone photography

1.  Accessibility

Yup, accessibility is also a con.  Since I'm a wedding photographer, let me share an example with you to show you why I say this.

A wedding ceremony  is the reason why wedding celebrations exist.  They are emotional, intimate, and the most important moment of the wedding day.  The next wedding you attend, take a look around during the ceremony and take note of how many people have their cell phones raised in the air taking pictures.  

Unless the couple is having an unplugged wedding, it's almost impossible for professional photographers to get "clean" photos.  Taking pictures of a wedding ceremony might seem harmless enough, but trust me, it's ruining wedding photos.  The photos created by professional photographers now have tons of arms, hands, and cell phones littering their images.  It makes the photos ugly and distracting, and this is not what the couple paying for the wedding wants.  

Many times, the situation gets even worse.  Professional wedding photographers have missed critical moments - like the couple's first kiss - because a wedding guest unexpectedly jumped into the aisle completely blocking the paid photographer.  Even though the couple won't have a professional photo of this special moment, at least they'll have a blurry cell phone picture to remember it.  

2.  Everyone's A "Professional"

With the quality of cell phone cameras improving (and even the affordability of DSLR cameras), it's become much easier for amateurs/hobbyists to own decent equipment.  This has also resulted in many amateur photographers posturing themselves as professionals.  This is definitely a huge issue in the wedding industry and it's why I believe we are seeing more and more couples being scammed by "wedding photographers."  These scammers promise you the world at cheap prices, and lure you in.  Sometimes they show up on your wedding day and sometimes they don't.  Sometimes they deliver you photos after the wedding and sometimes they don't.  Sometimes they give you quality photos, but most times they don't.  

Let's be honest.  Social media can be great, but it also makes you vulnerable.  Amateur photographers can set up FREE business pages on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.  They can easily lead you to believe they're the "real deal." 

Not only that, but these amateurs can now attend these stylized wedding shoots to create fake wedding portfolios.  It's becoming increasingly more difficult to tell the difference between the scammers and the true professionals.  

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3.  No Prints

Digital photography is mind blowing, but we completely take it for granted.  We can capture images and immediately view them on our devices.  It's instant gratification.  The digital age is leading to less and less photo prints.  

While a photo print might seem archaic, nothing compares to a big print of a beautiful photograph.  It's such an amazing way to truly appreciate a gorgeous image.  While cell phones are convenient, portable, and quiet they are devaluing photography.  We look at our images on cell phones and if we don't like it, we simply delete it.  The photos we do keep tend to be stored on our phones, computers, etc.  They rarely see the light of day. 

The accessibility to digital photography, the instant gratification, and social media sharing are all contributing to the degradation of photography.  When it comes to photography, there's a HUGE difference between a "snapshot" and a "photograph."  Most of the images we consume today are "snapshots."  A cheesy filter is applied to it and voila, it's shared online!  We have become accustomed to seeing snapshots and sadly, this is devaluing truly beautiful photography.  


what do you think about cell phone photography?  share your thoughts, i'd love to hear what you have to say!


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