iBrainwashed? - Dreamstime

An "old dog" photographer ponders the question: Could a smart phone camera actually produce quality shots to be used in stock photography?

Foot bridge boardwalk on hiking trail iphone wallpaper

I held out as long as I could. With my flip phone firmly in my grasp, I had refused to join the world of brain-sucking smart phones. It wasn't only the mesmerizing, glowing addiction of smart phones that I despised, but I deplored smart phone cameras! Selfies, poor-quality flash shots, big noses and foreheads from wide angle close ups, and a complete glut of photos of peoples’ mundane daily activities… hated it all.

Whenever someone tried to hand me their cell phone and said, “Here, you’re a photographer, take our picture”, I would refuse and say, “That isn’t a real camera.” But when technology made my flip phone obsolete, I had to upgrade. I must admit, when I turned on that bright screen and saw all the app icons, something inside of me was immediately hooked... but I would resist! You won't see me staring at that little screen at stop lights, in church, at the store and everywhere else!

Happy teen girls using smart phones against a school building

But in just three short weeks, I had become a smart phone zombie too. Well, maybe not as bad as the under-25 crowd. But still, the grip was tightening. And now, my smart phone is attached to me everywhere I go... even on the trails for weekend runs. And it didn't take long before I began to see the advantages of the phone’s built in camera.

I’ve always lamented the fact that I missed so many great nature photography opportunities while trail running. While in the midst of a trail run , I broke out my new "essential appendage" and snapped a photo of the rising sun over the trail boardwalk. "Wow! It actually looks pretty good! What if…?" What if I could begin producing higher quality cell phone shots when my DSLR wasn’t available? What if there was a market for smart phone nature photography for wallpaper backgrounds? Hmmmmm… ​

Yep. It didn’t take long. I’m “ibrainwashed”.

Photo credits: William Wise, Wrangler.

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January 21, 2020


I've now upgraded yet again to the newest phone with the newest photo-gadget of being able to take night time shots, even of the Milky Way.  I've been a film/video producer for over 30 years and now am able to shoot 4K video with my cell phone that can cut into my projects and match the broadcast quality of camera that cost as much as my parents home.  Amazing how technology has given us advances like this all because the next cell phone manufacturer wants to have the better capability.  Now, most all of them do.  Recent article I was reading compared the quality of my SONY A7RIII to the cell phone I was carrying, and determined some of the features of the cell phone beat out the photos from the Pro-DSLR.  However some of the stock libraries will automatically disqualify your photo BECAUSE it was taken with a smart phone, and ignore the detail, exposure, contrast, focus and artistic vision used to acquire the image.  Pitty.  Let's see what the next few years brings.

January 13, 2020


TECHNOLOGY..... gets the best of us....   in todays society.. whats the newest craze.... when sometimes the old technologies or inventions work best.  It is crazy that some phones take amazing pictures better than the expensive digital cameras.... but you know what i keep hearing its not the camera, its the one behind the lens.. the photographer...  I am still learning the basics.. (many years.. i am a slow learner.. well building my self confidence).   setting the aperature, the Iso,  making sure the lighting is just right..I am old fashioned.. Although with this digital aged photography, I would rather take pictures with my camera versus my iphone.   As someone mentioned above, its that feeling of looking through the viewfinder.  great article, William 

January 07, 2020


Well as for flip phones I don't think they will do as the major networks r upgrading to a 5G server only there for the later slower models that don't run so quick will soon be obsolete as for the newer phones previewed this winter photography as a whole will change the way we c the world in 20/20 all eyes on you

January 05, 2020


Hey Joan, I looked through your portfolio and couldn't pick out any that might have been shot with a camera phone. Very nice work! William

January 05, 2020


I have quite some photos up here on Dreamstime made with mobil phones, the quality of the last models, Huawei p30 pro for example comes very near to an acceptable result.

December 26, 2019


I thought much the same as you for a long time.  I have always used an Android rather than an iPhone.  It allows me to use a wide range of camera apps.  I am currently using an APP called “Open Camera”.  It is free.  It allows me to shoot in manual an in raw.  It is able to produce quality photos 5000 pixels large.  

December 22, 2019


If you use your camera just to capture Kodak moments that randomly turn up, you can try doing this with your phone. It works. It is always available. If you have an idea you would like to implement or something specific you plan to photograph better have the camera with you. It is true that phones made a big progress especially due to their strong image processing ability. But we are still far from the day when a wedding photographer will show up to his assignment with a phone only. Most of the guests take photos of the bride and groom but usually none of those pictures will end up in the young couple's album or even facebook page.

December 22, 2019


Well, I thought I was one of the last flip-phone hold outs to give in. Looks like there are more out there! Come to the dark side! lol 

December 21, 2019


I too still carry my flip phone around and keep resisting a smart phone. So far it works, because everyone I'm with usually has a smart phone! I usually have one or two cameras with me at all times for 'kodak moments' though.

December 18, 2019


I think it's like Patrick said that the best camera is the one you have with you. The phone cameras available now are such a leap from what was available before. Like you William, I've been asked to take a photo for someone on their mobile and the first attempt usually has one of my digits partly over the photo, so I try to have my wife take them, as she's way more adept. Currently, there's something comforting about holding a camera up and putting your eye to the viewfinder. Finally, I'm still trying to being a photographer, let alone real photographer :)

December 18, 2019


Looks like the consensus among "real" photographers is that a camera phone isn't a "real" phone! Or maybe we're just "really old" photographers and slow to catch up! lol . Thanks for commenting everyone! William

December 18, 2019


I've just bought a new smart phone to replace one that was over 5 years old! I was initially surprised it lasted that long but then began to think about it and realised that it was because I wasn't brainwashed that gave it its longevity. I didn't use it as a camera, because 5 years ago the camera wasn't good at all and I wasn't into photography, so it got used for spoiler alert phone calls and texts.I will keep trying to resist, someone has to :)

December 17, 2019


I too have yet to become an owner of a smart phone, but I think any camera you can have handy is useful as it's not always practical to carrying your main camera everywhere. At the moment I just stick the TG5 in my pocket and the good thing is no one can ring it! ;)

December 17, 2019


I resisted but gave in. And then you find apps! Dreamstime has the Companion app that tracks your account and notifies you when you have a sale! Even more addicting!

December 17, 2019


LOL I'm still resisting, still have my goofy little flip phone. I know 'resistance is futile' and I'll have to upgrade some day.....but for now....no.   :)

December 17, 2019


Technology has come a long way!  I'm also "ibrainwashed" now, ahaha!

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