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Shift in Perspectives

Smartphones and the Art of Photography

Jasmine Singh

In 2017 alone, there were more than 1.2 trillion photographs taken around the world. That’ is 160 photos per person in a population of 7.5 billion people (i.e. the population in 2017). 85% of all photos were taken on a smartphone. The ability to carry a camera in your pocket anywhere you go has undoubtedly changed the way we perceive photographs. With rapid improvements in smartphone technology, taking a photo today needs little to no effort.

“I feel that it’s absolutely beautiful to have a piece of glass that fits in your pocket and captures every moment in the most vivid way. The compactness and mobility is the reason why I shifted from using DSLRs to using smartphones.” said Malhar Sheth, an avid photographer.

The digital age has increased the number of skilled photographers in the industry, and as technology evolves, the technical challenges faced while shooting is shrinking even more. It is also important to see how the purpose of photography has shifted from capturing moments during special occasions to clicking pictures of every single event.

Picture clicked on Asus zenfone max pro m1 Smartphone

(Picture Credits: Jaskaran Singh)

Jaskaran Singh, a final year college student, began clicking photos in 2017 with his Sony phone. “This is just a hobby, I don’t want to pursue this as a career”, he mentions. He also believes that learning photography and composition for him has been easier on a phone than on a DSLR. He wants to buy a DSLR but feels that the cost is fairly high for just a hobby.

Smartphones aren’t the only proprietors of this change, images are an integral part of social networking sites like Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Photobucket and Tumblr. There are also websites dedicated to mobile photography, including EYE’EM and MobiTog. P1XELS is another excellent site dedicated to 'iPhoneography' as an art form. So social media sites and dedicated digital platforms are equally responsible for this boom. But has this technology affected professional photographers?

“In case of fashion photography, mainly the effect came after Instagram. Earlier models required portfolio for different agencies and had to do different advertisements but after Instagram, they can get followers on Instagram, so advertisements and professional projects are redundant. Also, there are mobile apps for editing nowadays, “I also own an editing company and that has been affected hugely because of editing apps being available in mobiles now” said Priyansh Bhardwaj, referring to his experience as a fashion photographer. He is a professional photographer currently working with Shipra & Amit Chhabra Photography from Delhi, India.

Photograph on left was clicked on a Canon 200D and on the right was clicked on an iPhone 7 (Picture Credits: Garima Goyal)

“Yes, over the last few years we have seen an undeniable rise of amateur photographers. For the general public, the quality of a smartphone camera is more than enough. But serious and professional photographers know that it’s not. I don’t think professional photography is going to lose its value because of smartphone photography as we can clearly see a difference between a professional’s work and an amateur’s click.” says Garima Goyal, a food photographer based in Ahmedabad, India.

“Photo taking and Photography are different things, everybody has a smartphone, but they are taking pictures by influence. Whereas some people really do amazing work with the camera, they take photography seriously (Documentary/ research/ project etc). According to me, phone photography is a different zone and upcoming amateur photographers can't really affect the professionals.” says Rajesh Kumar Singh, a freelance photographer who works on exhibitions and museum collections.

Picture clicked on Nikon D810 with an 85 mm lens

(Picture Credits: Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Even though smartphone photography is a great prospect for budding photographers, it is still in its rising stage. There might be a time in the future where professional photography can also be done on smartphones, but that time has not come yet. Thus, there isn’t any threat to the professionals as both smartphone and camera photography are two different branches of the same tree.

Edited by Aviva Baig & Shaardhool Shreenath