As more and more people purchase smartphones with built-in cameras, the newborn field of mobile photography is exploding from its early days of extremely fuzzy and pixilated photos that required a good bit of squinting (and loads of imagination) to figure out what they were to a discipline of photography in its own right. Mobile photography apps such as Instagram and photography sharing sites like Flickr and Picasso — not to mention Facebook and Twitter — have helped more and more people to get interested in photography. And, with cameras built into the phones they are already carrying everywhere anyway, the barrier to entering the realm of photography has never been lower.
Smartphone manufacturers such as Nokia and Samsung are working harder than ever to improve the cameras built into their phones, bringing many of them up to the level of a basic entry-level point-and-shoot. Granted, a dedicated camera will always function at a higher level than even the most sophisticated of camera-phones but, for many GenXers and Millennials, a smartphone is a much more practical investment as it can multi-task better than even a high-end DSLR. After all, there aren’t many DSLRs out there that can make phone calls, send text messages, store voicemail, let you shop on them, let you browse the Internet, and let you play games. So, many in the younger generations are starting to treat their smartphones as if they were pocket-sized point-and-shoots. Mobile photography app developers, seeing this trend, have been doing their best to refine their apps and software to provide things that dedicated cameras have had for years — image stabilization and better digital zoom — in hopes of spurring even further growth in the mobile photography field.
There are even awards for mobile photography and some photography magazines and journals have even begun to create mobile photography categories to encourage those who might otherwise have no interest in photography to dive in and make use of the camera they’re already carrying around with them.
All in all, it will be some time before mobile photography matures as a field. More research by manufacturers will be needed in order to hone camera phones so that they can take better quality photos and can have more features — possibly even built-in flash and optical zoom — before camera phones can replace point-and-shoots entirely. It will still be a few years before that happens, though, but the movement that direction, at the moment, seems almost inexorable.
Did you get your start with mobile photography? If you did, let us know in the comments below!
– da Bird