The Chicago Sun-Times drew widespread criticism last year when it fired its entire full-time photo staff and placed the burden of both words and visuals solely in reporters’ iPhone-wielding hands.
Enough argument has ensued over the rationale and implications of the move, I think, but the iPhone’s capabilities are an aspect that haven’t received the attention they deserve.
While the public and numerous professionals have decried the decision the Sun-Times’s management made, they did so, in part, claiming the iPhone was an inferior replacement to expensive traditional DSLR cameras that photojournalists have used for decades.
I myself have toted around a bulky DSLR and bag full of lenses for the past six years, but when I received an iPhone for Christmas two months ago, I’ve been surprised at how well it delivers.
Low light scene at a crowded restaurant? Check. High-dynamic-range scene under midday sun? Check.
(The iPhone I used to photograph the scene at the top of this post delivered an impressive 8×10 image at 300 pixels per inch, more than enough to fill a newspaper’s average front-page photo frame.)
The iPhone delivers, but what matter more than its features or drawbacks is the operator.
Depending on my training and understanding of photography, I can make evocative images with an iPhone as easily as taking bland, boring shots with expensive glass and a pricey DSLR.
Rather than lambaste a still developing tool for not surpassing a technology that has stood for decades, perhaps we should be more critical of those who wield the technology and work to educate them about how to create compelling imagery.
In the end, an understanding of light and composition will matter more than the size of a sensor or the weight of a camera.