One of my favorite photographers is Chase Jarvis, who is based in New York City. Besides designing numerous, stunning photos, he started multiple photography projects to involve the work of people who are either seasoned professionals or average smartphone carriers. For example, his project in 2011, Dasein (http://www.invitationtohang.com/), allowed anybody from across the globe to submit simple snapshots that would be displayed in an exhibition of over 500 photos. Jarvis embodies the universality of photography – the idea that everyone can become a photographer. His newest application, the Best Camera, encourages people to utilize their smartphones more and always be on the lookout for special moments. In the project’s teaser video, he said, “the best camera is the one with you. Images aren’t about dynamic range or megapixels; they’re about stories and moments,” which speaks for the meaning of photography in its entirety.
When my parents finally bought me a smartphone last year, I felt relieved from having to carry my camera with me all days of the week. A smartphone’s camera served me well when I needed to let people know exactly what was happening at any particular moment. While a phone has less photographic capabilities than a DSLR, it’s more handy, quick, and mobile. Plus, anyone can use it. If you are touring Rome and you want to get a picture of yourself in front of the Spanish Steps, chances are the first person you ask will know how to use an iPhone more than a high-end Nikon. And because many people carry around a phone more than a DSLR, it should be the best tool to capture spontaneous moments.
We aren’t talking about the weddings and photo shoots; we’re talking about when you see a street performer juggling five bowling pins and you had nothing but a phone with you. What would you do if you saw someone proposing in the middle of Times Square? Would you stand around and let the instant pass by just because you didn’t have your fancy camera to seize the moment?
This much is true: a photographer is defined by his vision and stories, not his camera. Besides adhering to some composition and lighting ethics, all bets are off. You can choose to shoot with whatever camera you want: the Canon 5D Mark II or the camera phone. I’m not encouraging people to ditch their professional cameras for cell phones. If you think the DSLR will help you shoot a fleeting moment faster, then use it by all means. The only thing that matters is that you can provide someone somewhere with a picture he/she will remember for the rest of his/her life.