In 2010, when Apple released the iPhone 4, it sparked a debate on whether a smartphone could replace a camera. At that time, professional photographers were sceptical, but little did they know that this small device would revolutionize the industry forever.
Despite having used both film and DSLRs in the past, I will never go back to shooting travel photography with them. The iPhone has become too convenient, and I see little difference in the quality of images. This is how I created these beautiful images of Norway, Italy, and Serbia, among others, with little more than the iPhone in my pocket.
When Apple released the iPhone 4 in 2010, I attended the PDN Photo Plus Expo in NYC. I remember feeling burdened by the heavy camera equipment I was carrying around. That’s when I stumbled upon Chase Jarvis, who had just released his book about iPhone photography, all shot on an iPhone 4! He was convinced that this small device would change the industry forever, and boy was he right.
For me, the turning point wasn’t until later on in 2015 when the iPhone 6s Plus was introduced. Since then, I’ve come to appreciate the ease of use, size, and immediate connection to social media that iPhones offer, making them ideal for documenting my journeys.
Despite my love for iPhone photography, I have also used DSLRs and film cameras in the past. I was a big believer in the Canon digital system, but after selling all my equipment, I now use the Fuji X100F for everyday shooting and the Fuji X-H1 for studio work. I also have a passion for film photography and own a Leica M2 that I will never replace.
When travelling, I try to keep my equipment as light as possible. I recently upgraded to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, although until last month, I was using the iPhone 8S Plus. I use Moment cases and lenses (18mm Moment Wide and 58mm Moment Telephoto). I have also used the Zeiss Exo Lenses Pro, which is a beautiful lens but, unfortunately, no longer available. The latest iPhone Pro Max versions now have 3-in-1 lenses, eliminating the need for third-party lenses.
Other gear that is good to carry around is a travel tripod and some kind of Phone holder with a tripod mount option. This always works if you need a self-portrait or long exposure shot. Companies like Small Rig and Ulanzi have great universal smartphone cages and really nice designs as well, plus all kinds of accessories to go alongside. I also enjoy shooting with a small drone for aerial photos.
Pros and Cons of Using a Smartphone
There are numerous advantages to using a phone for photography. The small pocket size makes it easy to carry everywhere, and instant access to the world allows for sharing photo stories immediately. Furthermore, in-phone editing and the abundance of resources in the App Store provide limitless possibilities for creativity. The 3-in-1 camera lens on the latest iPhone Pro Max versions allows for versatility in focal lengths. Finally, smartphones are perfect for street photography, as nobody pays attention to you, making it easier to capture candid shots.
There are obviously many advantages to shooting with a phone, but you still encounter unique challenges. Battery life is still a significant challenge, and it requires more attention. Additionally, there is a need for a travel tripod and phone holder with a tripod mount option, especially for self-portraits or long-exposure shots.
Travel Photography with the iPhone
Travel is my biggest inspiration, and I seek out places far from the world’s heat zones. Vast and wild landscapes, like those in Norway, are my quiet places, and I love to photograph the people and stories of these places.
Norway was on my list to visit for a very long time. This was my first visit to the Viking’s land, and it was like nowhere I’d been before. It felt larger, quieter, more peaceful and more beautiful. Norway is a place where I connected instantly and could let my mind explore and enjoy the beauty of its vast landscapes.
A quote from Rick Riordan’s book, The Ship of the Dead describes Norway perfectly:
Pretty didn’t do it justice. I felt like we’d sailed into a world meant for much larger beings, a place where gods and monsters roamed freely.
– Rick Riordan, from ‘The Ship of the Dead’
If you want to take your mobile photography to the next level, keep creating, develop your own style, and learn to tell visual stories. Refrain from comparing yourself to others, and avoid getting caught up in gear discussions. Use what you have and make photographs!
In conclusion, iPhone photography has come a long way since its introduction. While there are still unique challenges to using only a phone for photography, the advantages far outweigh them. It is an exciting time for smartphone photography, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.
About the Author
Maciej Blaszczuk describes himself as a ‘Smartographer, photographer, traveller, dreamer, and wanderer.’ He was born and raised in Poland and finds inspiration in vast landscapes, mountains, and, most of all, the people he encounters on his travels. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Instagram.