With every new phone, technology is bridging the gap between a professional camera and a phone camera. In the last few years, the image quality achievable on a phone camera is almost comparable with a mid-range DSLR. Phones also offer automatic features that eliminate many of the technical challenges faced by photographers.
You just need to scroll through Instagram to see proof of this - everyone with a smartphone and a filter app is turning out good photos.
This new age of photography is changing the art completely. Many professionals are subscribing to it too. From candid snapshots to ad campaigns, mobile phone photography looks like the IT things.
However, in the professional world of high-quality pixels and impeccable resolution, mobile photography is still a young genre that has to find its identity.
Also, technology aside, doesn’t the frame ultimately rely on the photographer shooting it?
To discuss this, we spoke to professional photographer and mobile photography enthusiast, Pankaj Anand about his on-field experience in mobile photography.
Also Read: Through the Lens: With Travel Photographer Pankaj Anand
Pankaj Anand, Photographer
What do you currently prefer, shooting on a phone camera or your DSLR?
It depends on what I’m shooting. For instance, for a commercial job like product photography, you need a set-up to capture the subject. You need a DSLR properly placed on a tripod. However, if its more street style, where I want to grab the vibe of a place, I prefer the phone camera.
Tell us about what you think of phone photography for professional shoots.
I would say that there are still many constraints when it comes to using a phone camera for a professional shoot. One should pick the camera depending on what they want to shoot. For example, there are many genres of photography, like fashion, interiors, travel etc. Each genre will need a certain type of equipment to be shot with. For a fashion shoot, you’ll need to zoom in to capture the facial expressions and mood and you can’t zoom in as much with phone cameras.
The choice of camera will also depend on where these photos will be published. If you’re doing blow up prints, phone pictures may not give you that kind of resolution as a DSLR with a bigger sensor size would give you. Understanding the job will determine what kind of equipment will be required.
Have you shot a professional shoot on your phone?
Yes. This job was to shoot food for an e-cookbook. This was done for a food writer called Sonal Ved, who was launching her book, Gujju Goes Gourmet. We shot a series of pictures and made use of the 2x optical zoom on the iPhone 7, which was new back then. I planned the angles and shoot in such a way that it would be more favourable to shoot on a phone. Overall, it was a very quick shoot. Nevertheless, I used the same lighting as I would have used while shooting with a DSLR too.
When you see photos online or on print ads, you can never really tell what gadget it was shot on. Because of the set up and lighting, even my shoot on the phone turned out to be quite satisfactory and professional.
What are the pros of shooting on a phone?
There are certain times where it’s definitely better shooting on a phone camera. For instance, street photography, journalistic photography or some quick travel pictures. There’s a certain freedom of composition in phone photography. The candidness of the moment and the natural feel of the moment is undisturbed. If you suddenly pick a big camera on the street, everyone will get conscious around you.
Can you share a professional picture shot on your phone?
This picture was taken at The Leela hotel in Goa. I woke up after a New Year’s Eve party and was taking a stroll on the property in the morning and captured it on my iPhone 7. It turned out to be so good that it was a full-page feature in the Condé Nast Traveller. This just goes to show that a photo shot with a good eye, even if it is on a phone can turn out to be a professional match.
So, what cameras would you recommend?
For whoever wants to pick up photography as a hobby or profession, I’d say there’s no camera that’s solely responsible for a good photo. Whether a phone camera or a DSLR, they’re all good. It is the human eye that captures the shot that makes or breaks the frame.
Even personally, I don’t own one particular camera, I pick them as per the job. If I’m shooting the northern lights in Sweden, I’ll pick a Sony Alpha as they’re very good for low light images. If I’m running around during a travel shoot, I will pick a sturdy Canon as they’re known for good colour captures. If I’m shooting wildlife, I’ll take a Nikon that gives amazing sharpness with the sensors. If I’m just doing some quick shoots for online campaigns, I would just take some with my phone.
One quick tip to pick a good phone camera.
You need to look for a phone camera that gives you a good sync of camera quality and resolution. If the camera has great megapixels, it should also have a pretty good screen resolution to match it. The right compatibility will give you pictures that will not only look good on a small phone screen but also on the big screen.
Pankaj Anand is a professional photographer who works across many genres of photography and has been published by magazines like Condé Nast Traveller, Inside Outside, Vogue India etc.
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