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iPhone Photography: Why Should We Care? with Jessica Zolman

From: iPhone Photography, from Shooting to Storytelling

Video: iPhone Photography: Why Should We Care? with Jessica Zolman

Jessica Zollman> To give a little background about why I chose to talk about this, essentially a lot of my friends in East Bay, I grew up in the area, do not understand technology or this whole iPhone photography thing, and I am constantly getting in arguments on Facebook and in real life with them about the legitimacy of iPhone photography. They basically have pretty much written me off as like a chick with a phone who thinks that I am special, and I enjoy proving them wrong. So hopefully, I don't really have to do that with anyone here and all of you agree with me, but we will see if you feel like arguing with me after.

iPhone Photography: Why Should We Care? with Jessica Zolman

Jessica Zollman> To give a little background about why I chose to talk about this, essentially a lot of my friends in East Bay, I grew up in the area, do not understand technology or this whole iPhone photography thing, and I am constantly getting in arguments on Facebook and in real life with them about the legitimacy of iPhone photography. They basically have pretty much written me off as like a chick with a phone who thinks that I am special, and I enjoy proving them wrong. So hopefully, I don't really have to do that with anyone here and all of you agree with me, but we will see if you feel like arguing with me after.

So I am going to just give a little rundown of the camera phone up until today. Basically, the first commercial camera phone, commercial, was available in 2000, and it was a 110,000 pixel image sensor. Then in 2002, there was a 30,000 pixel image sensor phone, which was about 640 by 480 pixels. It's essentially enough to print a 6x4, but it would still be really fuzzy and blurry and not great quality.

And then by 2003, there was a one megapixel phone. This is kind of crazy. In 2003, I graduated from college, so to think that eight years ago, actually high school, sorry, to think that eight years ago there was only a one megapixel camera phone, and I could have cared less about camera phones too. I think I was still playing Snake 2. It's kind of insane. Then, within the last four years, more and more people began to actually utilize what was available and on hand.

So it turns out that the iPhone was what came out. So while other camera phones had a five megapixel camera, the first iPhone appeared with only two megapixels, no flash, no optical zoom, and no auto-focus. I remember having that phone and I still absolutely loved taking photos with it. I can't imagine ever using that phone camera again today. I have friends that still have it. I don't know how they do it. And then in 2009, the 3GS came out, with a 3.2 megapixel auto-focus, auto white balance and auto macro.

And then in 2010, the iPhone 4 came out. In my opinion, that was the first time that we really started seeing that Apple was focusing on creating a phone that also had an excellent camera. I think that photography on the iPhone just kind of started exploding and they really banked on that. So it had a really high resolution, could capture low light images, it had a flash, and it was the first phone to add HDR photography. And then in October of 2010, Instagram went live and social mobile photography began rising.

Everyone has seen these charts everywhere, I'm sure. The first chart is from a TechCrunch article that came out, basically pointing out that the iPhone 4 had surpassed the DSLRs. And the second one is from this last month, and you can see the huge boom that's occurred. Something that's interesting to note though, and it was also noted in the TechCrunch article, none of Flickr's photos that have been sent from an application note that it's an iPhone. So all of the data is stripped. If you're sending your information from Instagram or from Hipstamatic or any other photo sharing, it strips.

So even though this was a huge milestone, it most likely happened much further, much sooner, and this chart is probably way off as well. So now on to the iPhone 4S. It is one of the most dramatic new features of this device. This is the greatest photo of a squirrel the world has ever seen, obviously. I actually was watching the keynote and like lost my mind over this photo of a squirrel, which is so silly, because really, it's just a squirrel.

But it's a hybrid infrared filter. It's a backside illumination, which has 73% more light, and 8 megapixel camera, with a 2.4 aperture, and in my opinion what is the most impressive feature is that it can take a photo in only 1.1 seconds and then half a second for the next photo. So basically it's making this camera-- Apple is deciding to make their camera just as good, if not better, than a point-and-shoot camera.

But would any of this really matter if the iPhone advance in camera wasn't shareable, if there wasn't a way for you to send your photos to your friends or share your photos with your parents or maybe just strangers who are interested? Social photography has given iPhone photography importance. In doing research for this talk I find it extremely difficult, in fact almost impossible, to basically find any information on the first camera phone without also finding information on the first camera phone photo shared, which we all just saw.

Mobile photography is accessible, and it appeals to the masses. It's thin. It fits in your pocket or your purse. It's relatively inexpensive compared to film or DSLR lenses or bodies or accessories. And the photographs captured on an iPhone can be just as good, depending on who is behind the lens. A fun fact is that, as Nate pointed out, the whole reason why I even got into mobile photography is that I wanted to buy a better DSLR. I basically was the most jealous of him having a Mark II, and I was like, I can't afford that.

I worked in support at the time. I was like it's not going to happen. But I wanted to get back into photography and I wanted to be passionate about it again, and I found that the iPhone, because it was so accessible, because it was so cheap, and even the accessories for it are so inexpensive, kind of became that medium for me. Yeah, future phone, that was straight out of Star Trek. So the iPhone has been such a huge success in the world of mobile photography, because it's a phone from the future. I mean, seriously, like this is a stuff that the Jetsons played with on their TV show.

It's the thing that like we saw in Blade Runner and freaked out about basically. So we'll take a multi-touch interface phone, with a robust app store, and a robot secretary by Apple, even if the camera is still behind. So right now there are mobile phones that have 12 megapixel cameras and have much better technology. But people are so loyal to the brand that they are willing to overlook all of that just because it's an Apple phone. People who use Apple products love Apple products, and they will continue to buy the second, the day, maybe even wait in line the night before it comes out, and that brand loyalty helped make the iPhone photography so successful.

There can be a lot of pressure when it comes to the constraints behind creating like a witty or relevant tweet or sharing your information on Facebook. But the constraints behind the iPhone are less limiting, and sharing a photograph of where you are or what you are doing or what you are looking at is easy. So you don't have to convince your parents why they should share a photograph, and you don't have to convince them why they should look at a photograph that you have posted, because everybody wants to see and keep up and connect.

So it's that ease that also makes mobile photography successful. If people can dismiss a photograph of where someone is currently standing, or the side of a building while looking up, and even an image captured out of an airplane window. But like Kevin has been quoted as saying, we have seen some seriously incredible photos of all of those things at Instagram. Sharing is important, because as we've seen at Instagram, we were finding images from the Texas wildfires as they were burning, Hurricane Irene as it was devastating parts of the Caribbean and the East Coast, they could share the remembrances during the 10 year anniversary of September 11th, and we can follow Occupy Wall Street as its happening.

You can also find photos from NASA in outer space of the earth. So all of these things, this photojournalism aspect to social photography provides people with a real-time visualization for important and historical events. And users can also follow their favorite bands like Bon Iver or The National while on tour, catch a glimpse into the everyday life of a celebrity, see Fashion Week photos, and even catch a behind-the- scenes glimpse into like their favorite chef's kitchen, for example.

Sharing gives all different types of brands an outlet to visually connect to fans or consumers or users. So everything is share-worthy in social photography, within reason, please. People share everything from engagements, weddings, birth, summer vacations, festivals, food, and of course their cats and dogs being adorable animals. I could have had an entire presentation about the psychological reasons behind why people really want to share these moments publicly.

It's anything from affirmation, to overwhelming desire to show other people what it's like to be them. But it may even be as simple as watching feedback, like likes and love and comments and kudos on a photo that we've taken, shared, and accumulate just feels really good. So basically, as the iPhone camera becomes more advanced and eventually will become as advanced as a DSLR, and are available in more countries, on even more carriers, and their accessibility grows and increases, the appeal will give mobile photography even more legitimacy.

Recently I saw an article in The New York Times, it was on their website, that had iPhone photographers' Hipstamatic images accompanying the actual text, and I thought that was amazing, because those occurrences are going to become more frequent, and people who never considered themselves photographers before will discover that they have talent and a gift when put behind an iPhone and that they cannot be ignored, especially as it's discovered in mass. And that's why iPhone photography is important and why eventually everyone will care.

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