When asked what he thought the best camera was, Pulitzer prize winning photojournalist Barry Staver came up with the memorable quote “It’s the one you have with you”. Very few of us these days do not have a mobile phone, and very few of us have a mobile phone without a camera, so, logically, the ‘one we have with us’ will almost always be our phone.
I’ll have to put my cards on the table here. I’m a Mac user. As a professional photographer, 100% of the business I’m in runs on Macs. It’s become ‘industry standard’, simple as that, so this article will be Mac biased. I have an iPhone 4s and a LOT of apps. I’ve whittled them down to what I consider to be the essentials, and will come back to this at the end of the article. A lot of these apps are now available for Android, and there are plenty of on line sites to help you out.
All the pictures included in this article have been shot and processed using ONLY in-phone apps.
The one criticism that most serious photographers come up with when iPhone photography is mentioned is that so many people are taking so many pictures that all look the same. I agree that by using Hipstamatic, or Instagram, putting one treatment, or filter on it and uploading it to the internet, it’s almost certain that you’ll end up with a picture that looks just like ten million others. The solution? Use more than one app or treatment. All the pictures here have been through several. Start with one, Save it to your photo library and put it through another, then another till you get what you like. I always say that one of the great things about photography is that there are no rules. If you like an image, that’s enough, and that is more true than ever when it comes to using your phone.
One of the main reasons for adding all these effects to our smart phone pictures is simply that we can. As a professional photographer, I love it. It’s fun, and that, for me is the whole point. I WANT my iPhone pictures to look like they were taken on my phone…I have my ‘big cameras’ to do all the high-end technical stuff!
I’ve been in the unfortunate position recently of having to spend a lot of time in Doctors surgeries, and one of the things that has helped while away the time is playing around with my pictures. I can heartily recommend it! Whizzing a picture from app to app and back again, then emailing a full-res picture to myself to look at on my screen when I get back to my desk.
I’m really enjoying shooting with my phone. Having fun with all the fx, loving the images I would have otherwise missed, and realising that as photographers, there’s really no excuse these days to consider oneself ‘off duty’! In fact, I’ve recently added an ‘iPhone’ gallery on my new website.
Food photography with the iPhone
Your phone is a fantastic tool to have when it comes to food photography, and here are a few, very simple tips that you should all know:
1. Use daylight (incidentally, I get extremely cross when I hear people banging on about how ‘they only use daylight’. Daylight is beautiful stuff, but getting the best out of it is another thing entirely. ‘Lighting’ is a skill learnt over many years, and NOT simply turning the flash on your camera on!)
2. Use a reflector. This can be anything, a bit of silver foil on a card, a white napkin, whatever’s to hand. Simply hold your reflector on the darker side of your picture and see the difference it makes.
3. Take the bl**dy orange out! I HATE seeing pictures whacked on someones blog that have not been colour corrected. They’re horrible, and make you look lazy…The solution is dead easy…Filterstorm & Perfect Photo are both brilliant apps, easy to use and perfect for colour correction on the move.
4. Shoot lots…then shoot lots more. Just taken a nice picture? You sure? Take another one. Then look at it…could you move something a little bit? Take something out? It doesn’t cost any more, and gives you more chance of getting a cracking picture. Just delete all the ones you don’t like when you get home.
5. Tired of all your pictures looking the same, and the same as everyone else’s? Then stop using Hipstamatic & Instagram. They are the most popular photo apps out there and as far as I’m concerned, the home of the lazy photographer. Quick! Take a mediocre picture of your supper in the tungsten lighting in your kitchen with Instagram and pop it on your blog!…then stop and wonder why there are so many bad food blogs out there…
6. And the most important piece of advice I could ever give anyone who wants to improve their photography:
Stop rushing things…look…REALLY look, then when you’ve looked think. In my professional life as a photographer (35 years and counting!) The one constant has been that whenever anyone looks at my work, they will remember, and comment on the ONE picture they didn’t like! Don’t give them the chance…if there’s anything you’re not sure about, don’t use it. Simple!
And last but not least, If I could only use one app on my phone? Snapseed. It’s fantastic. Every picture I’ve used here has at some point been through Snapseed (and incidentally, no, they are not giving me any money for saying this!) and I heartily recommend it.
To sum up… For me it’s never going to replace a ‘proper’ camera, but, I enjoy it! It’s fun, and with a bit if effort you can produce some very interesting images. Will it all last? Who knows, but rest assured, there are some great images out there in the ‘Democratic Republic of iPhoneography’. Remember…don’t over process, but don’t under process either. Use the apps for what they can do to make your images look fabulous. Put your cynicism on hold and give it a go. You may just surprise yourself!
Tim Clinch has been a photographer all his working life. He spent five years assisting in London, then ran his own studio in Clerkenwell. In the early 90′s he moved to Spain, where he lived and worked for eight years, five years in Madrid and three in the province of Cadiz followed by many years in South West France. These days, he’s still a nomad, dividing his time between England, France and Bulgaria. Tim says: “It doesn’t really matter where I ‘live’ as I’m always travelling.” His latest passion is discovering Eastern Europe, especially the fascinating country of Ukraine.
Tim works for a wide variety of magazines all over Europe and America, including CN Traveller, Forbes Life, Town & Country, Food Illustrated and House & Garden, and has had many books published, the latest being ‘England’s Hideaways’, a guide to the best secret hotels and castles in the UK (pub. Rizzoli). Tim is currently working on a new publishing project with food writer Kate Hill about the food and food producers of South West France, called ‘Food Stories from Gascony‘ – follow their progress here. Tim was chosen as an exhibitor in the prestigious Food Photo Festival in Tarragona, Spain in 2011, and this year was an award winner at the Food Photographer of the Year awards in London.
Alongside his commercial work he runs food photography workshops in France (which our own Mardi took this past summer and can highly recommend) and Spain.