Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why No iPhone Shoots for Me?

In spite of the video I posted above, assuming you took the time to watch it, or the fact that iPhonography is growing more popular by the day (and the quality of iPhone images getting better with each new iPhone release) my Canon 5D, or any other dSLR I might use or acquire, is in no danger of being replaced by my iPhone... or an iPad or most any other small, point-n-shoot, device. Why? One word: Perception.

Technically, many of the images I'm hired to produce could be snapped with an iPhone and pass muster in terms of quality, especially for work headed direct to the web. But winning over the confidence of my clients, that is, altering their perceptions about paying me to shoot with my cell phone versus paying me to shoot with (what they consider) high-end, state-of-the-art, expensive, and customary gear, are world's apart.

If I suddenly decided to shoot with my iPhone, the scenario might go something like this: I show up on a set. The model is in makeup. I put up a white seamless and some lighting. Obviously, continuous lighting because I'm going to shoot with my iPhone. The model, now out of makeup, shows up on the seamless. I direct her where to stand and how I'd like her to begin posing. I pull out my iPhone. The model slumps and moves off her mark. "What are you doing?" I ask. The model explains she thought I was taking a phone call and I wasn't yet ready to shoot. "I'm shooting with my iPhone." I explain. The model looks at me strangely, as if she's saying, "Dude! Are you for real?" She then retakes her mark and assumes a pose.

My model continues posing, obviously accepting that I am for real. (Either that or she's catering to my idiosyncrasies which, I'll admit, I have a few. Maybe more than a few.) But that doesn't really matter to my model. She's getting paid (and paid well) and that's what really matters to her. If I want to shoot with my phone or an Instamatic or a pin hole camera, she could care less. Besides, I'll just tell her I'm being artsy. (Not that she'll automatically care about that either... pardon my hard-earned cynicism.)

After a bit of iPhone glamour shooting, my client walks in. "Jimmy! Haven't you started shooting her yet? We have a schedule, bro. Get off the phone."

"I'm not on the phone, I'm shooting," I explain. "I'm shooting with my iPhone. It's the latest thing. The pictures look great!"

My client stares at me for a moment, dumbfounded. Finally, he speaks. "I'm paying you your rate to shoot with your cell phone?"

"Yeah. Cool, right? Lots of pros are shooting with their iPhones."

"Not on my productions," my client tells me before never hiring me again.

The moral of this fictional tale is one I'm confident most of you can figure out.


Pete said...

Back in the early days of radio (so I've read,) people used to tune their crystal sets to radio stations all over the world, just to see if they could find new stations they've not heard before.
This phase gave way to the more structured radio stations that we have today.
The iPhone and similar photo sessions are more to show what can be done, than to show what should be a normal occurance.
Early stereo recordings had a lot more stuff only on one channel or the other, to show off the stereo effect, than on most recordings today, even though it's technically easier to do it now than it was then.
When people get their first HD TV, they tend to watch shows that are in HD that they wouldn't watch in SD.
The circle of technology continues.

jimmyd said...

Pete: I agree that most of the iPhone hype (relative to photography) is merely about showing capabilities. But then, I'm seeing more and more where it's touted as a viable option for paid work.

Bill Giles said...

Remember how 3D TVs were supposed to be the wave of the future?

Rick said...

Ten years from now the iPad will be a full blown camera/computer with a 200 terabyte hard drive that will take the picture, edit in Photoshop and update all your websites in just ten minutes.

Everyone with an iPad will now be a professional photographer and with the glut of photographers on the market, be able to charge the top rate of 25cents per hour.

However, I will be the bum on the corner of Hollywood and Vine with my $6000 Nikon D4 making more money with a coffee cup asking strangers for "spare change."

The times - they are a changin'

Rovingrooster said...

It's certainly true that a competent photographer can make a good picture with any camera; it's also true that it's easier to make pictures with certain cameras for certain photo applications.

If you're a pro and production costs are burning away by the minute, you tend not to piss around. Don't trade your Canon for the iPhone Jimmy, and I definitely won't be trading in my Nikon. I also have every confidence that you could take an awesome iPhone photo if you have the extra time, money and desire to do so.