Recently, Eric Kim has shared a post about shooting street photography with a cellphone. As a daily shooter and iPhoneographer since one month, I would like to share my experience and tips about that (emphasis on MY experience, this is very personal and maybe it will not work on you, have it in mind!)
1 – USE A CASE WITH A BATTERY INCORPORATED – I personally use a Mophie one with good results. I dislike power banks, they are clumsy and they add weight/problems in the time you need to draw your phone like a gun in Wild West. One more thing: I don’t know how it works IPhone 6 and beyond, but previous iPhones the batteries got broken after using these batteries all day connected, so, DISTRUSTS when a company says that batteries don’t suffer if they are wired all day, I broke THREE internal batteries like that and my Mophie external one starts to act funny. Just turn on when you have 20% or less and only in emergencies.
2 – I USE THE DEFAULT CAMERA APP – yes, the crappy one. It’s more versatile than meets the eye. You can control the shutter speed easily (drag down your finger across the screen and you will see the image darkens, this is the shutter speed adjusting). Also, it doesn’t eat system reaources (so it will consume less battery), it’s perfectly synced with all the apps of Apple, you have GPS in case you need, in new iPhones you have AUTO HDR, and I think that even RAW files (didn’t have the chance to test them. Any recommendations?). One more thing: you can lock the iPhone for saving batteries/device life, and when need to fast draw it to shoot you can access this app from the lock screen really fast and don’t lose time. With other apps you cannot do that. Also, need sharp and in focus pictures but fast shooting? Lock the AF with press and holding the screen in one point at a desired distance and you have the Ricoh GR “snap mode”. And adjust the brightness/shutter speed dragging your finger throught the screen. Quite fancy huh?
3 – DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME WITH THE EFFECTS – they consume more resources and battery life, because it will go live in your screen, and if you import the photos in another app that it’s not the Apple Photos itself (Lightroom, Image Capture, Aperture…) the effects and editing options will disappear, just like if you shoot in raw with a standard camera with effects and import them (Fujifilm X Series anyone?) Just shoot and edit in VSCO or your favourite app/computer software later.
4 – TURN ON THE SILENT MODE – in case you take very candid and discreet photos like me, a la Bresson mode, you don’t want your candid subjects to become aware of you taking pictures really close with a cellphone. In some places this can lead to problems because with a cellphone they can think that you are spying them (here in Barcelona people are quite strange sometimes, and if you go to Morocco be very careful! They can even beat you the shit out if they find you taking a picture of somebody and you are alone in your own, they are very restrictive). Of course, if you do like Mr. Kim, ignore this point.
5 – USE THE VOLUME BUTTONS – they are here for something, in iPhone they are for shooting in “snap mode”, so you can shoot with the minimum shutter lag and AF lag possible. Have in mind that this is optimum only to shoot like the “Japanese Provoke school”, this is, high contrast and somewhat blurry photos, but you can lock the AF pressing in one point of the screen (see point 2).
6 – IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT, USE TWO IPHONES – I have two iPhone 4s that I acquired for a bargain. One for communications and the other as a camera/iPod with plane mode on (with no SIM card). In case one fails/gets stolen or broken, you have the other.
7 – NOT MANDATORY BUT RECCOMENDED: LEARN TO REPAIR YOUR IPHONE – if you have an old iPhone and Apple refuses to repair it or it’s too expensive, go to ifixit.com or look for spare parts and tools on eBay and learn to repair it by yourself. The DIY philosophy can save you a lot of money and you will feel more free from consumerism. For example, I know how to disassemble my 4s and change the batteries.
Of course, this is really something personal, and some tips I don’t use myself, for example the AF lock, because I like surreal and blurry photos, but for people that wants sharp in-focus pictures this is the way. And of course, you can use other apps for camera that will fit your needs (I have the Instant App and Camera+ for some works and turnarounds). Use whatever you prefer.
Comments, suggestions, another points of view, anyone? Hope it will help “cellphonographers” here!
Here some examples created with that workflow: