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Paths Not Taken



On the first issue of Paths Not Taken, RC Rosales discusses the place of the smartphone in the world of photography, and why more photographers should make photos with their phones. 


Pursuing Mobile Photography

Mobile Photography Counts as “Real” Photography

The first time someone threw me the question as to whether or not mobile photography counts as “real” photography, it was 2014, and I owned a Samsung Galaxy Win. A contemporary of the higher-end Samsung Galaxy S4, the Galaxy Win had a five-megapixel rear camera.


In 2020, smartphones with cameras that go as high as 108 megapixels are available. Also, some established photographers have already hosted mobile photography workshops. Despite these, the question persists.


Personally, I believe mobile photography counts as real photography. Here are my reasons.

A Smartphone Camera Is Still a Camera


“But RC, the rear camera of my smartphone can only take 13-megapixel photos!”


While I understand the image quality concerns, I’ve been able to take amazing photos with both the Galaxy S6 and S7, smartphones I’m still using to this day. The key is using post-processing apps to address or work around the image quality issues. Some great post-processing apps you can use are VSCO and Adobe Lightroom Mobile.

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It’s a Hassle-Free Way to Capture Easy-to-Miss Moments

As a street photographer, one of my gripes with bringing around a DSLR or mirrorless camera is setting it up on the spot so it’s ready for the street. I have to go someplace that doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic, get the camera out of the protective bag, put the battery in, and adjust the exposure settings, all before hitting the road and starting to take photos. But even while on the street, I’ll still need to keep watching the exposure settings.


You can argue that I can bring around a compact camera like a Ricoh GR instead and cut the preparation time significantly, but truth be told, that’s not an option available to everyone as it’s an expensive camera not available in a lot of camera shops in the Philippines.


If you go with the smartphone instead of the conventional camera, you only need to bring the smartphone out of your pocket, open the camera application, and start shooting. Exposure settings are automatically calculated by the smartphone so you can just shoot without worrying about underexposure and overexposure, though you can also go with pro or manual mode for more creative options. 

You Are No Longer Limited to the Stock Wide-Angle Camera


There now are a wide array of telephoto, ultra wide, and macro lenses available for smartphones. They can either be clipped to the phone or mounted on special phone cases or cages quickly for more creative options in a snap.


At the same time, most mobile phones available in the market these days have at least two cameras. More cameras mean more photography modes or creative options you can choose. Examples of additional creative modes you can go for include portrait mode (computational bokeh), macro, and high resolution (usually 64mp) mode.


Yet despite all these developments, some photography circles out there believe mobile photography is not real photography. Then again, the fact that the mobile phone camera has come a long way from being just a gimmicky, low-resolution add-on in the 2000s says a lot about the rightful place of the smartphone in the world of photography.


Paths Not Taken is an article series by RC Rosales for PhotoNation magazine. Stay tuned for the next issue where he will talk about moving on from the 2020 ECQ of Cebu City with instant film.


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