iPhone photography- in the hands of an artist

The iPhone is a phone of firsts for me.  It’s the first phone that I’ve used to usefully surf the web, the first phone to watch movies with, and the first phone where I actually enjoy using the camera.

My iPhone is always on me, the picture quality is good, and you don’t have to click through a ton of menus to get to the camera function. Last week, I posted a few pictures that I had taken of some Spring flowers in Cincinnati. Greg Schmigel of Annapolis made a nice comment on them and asked me to check out his website, justwhatisee.com.

All I can say is wow!

Greg is a talented photographer, and the fact that he does it all with his iPhone is even more amazing.  The iPhone is a true camera bringing both strengths and weaknesses.  But like any tool in the hands of an artist, beautiful things can be made.

I’ve been interested in featuring unique websites like Greg’s and he was kind enough to answer a few questions that I had about his iPhone photography.  I’ve interspersed a selection of Greg’s photos with his answers.

All photos copyright Greg Schmigel.  Used with permission.

2410967485_666963ee8e.jpgWebsite Feature: just what i see: iPhone photography

Q. What’s your background?  Are you a professional photographer?

I consider myself an amateur, and I like to keep it that way.  It gives me the desire to continually shoot better and more creative shots.   I’m self taught, in the traditional sense.  I finished college at the University of Maryland with a degree in Radio, Television and Film.

2375610842_5198dd5991.jpgQ. What got you started taking iPhone photos?

I used to shoot with a Canon 40 D and a pocket-sized Leica D Lux-3, but since I purchased my iPhone, the big guys have been collecting a bit of dust.  As you can see from some of my photographs, I love to shoot street photography.  The iPhone, because of it’s size and discretion, gives me so many more opportunities to capture interesting moments that I might miss with a big rig.

2344793176_30cc47f88c.jpgQ. How many photos do you think you’ve taken with the iPhone?

I haven’t counted them all, and there are times when I scroll through old albums in iPhoto and I don’t even remember shooting the picture.  Honestly, I would say I have shot a few thousand, maybe 3,000.  I’m on my second iPhone…thank god for warranties!

2343935865_b33409b7ce.jpgQ. When you take pictures of people do they know what you’re doing?  Your candid photos of people are great!

Sometimes they do.  If I want to try and get a portrait-style shot, I will ask them.   They are usually so intrigued by the iPhone that they forget that I am actually snapping their image. 

But, most of the time, my shots are unannounced.  I love to capture the raw and candid imagery of people on the street.

2332724943_1c82513e70.jpgQ. What’s your favorite thing to take pictures of?

If you visit my site, you will see that I am a city lover.  I can spend hours shooting just about anything you would find in the city.  People, signage, graffiti, found objects…just about anything except myself.

2332509210_93b5fe4c5b.jpgQ. Any hints for taking good iPhone pictures?

Always keep your iPhone camera feature on…always keep a wall charger in your pocket.  Just capture what you find interesting.  I’m not much for special lighting or special gear.  I just like to capture what I see, and share it with the world.

2332469438_6c54cb9dc6.jpgQ. How well do the pictures print out?

The iPhone is a 2MP camera, so you can actually get a nice 4X6 or 5X7 print out of it. 
That’s usually the first question gallery owners will ask.  “Well, how do you plan to present your images?”  They can look great in an oversized mattes.

2331681851_8d731c1c6f.jpgQ. Any Pet Peeves about the iPhone camera?

The battery life.  Constant shooting on will last me a few hours, if I stay away from checking my e-mail.  Oh, and if I stay away from making calls.  Did I mention the iPhone makes phone calls, too? 

2331642171_63d6baffe4.jpgQ. What improvements would you like to see in future iPhone cameras?

Hopefully  Apple will move to more megapixels.  Maybe a 3, at the least.  But other than that, I am happy with it.  It’s kind of like shooting with an old plastic point and shoot.  The camera itself doesn’t have a ton of features.  The camera doesn’t “make” the shot…it leaves it up to the shooter to get more creative and find the shot.


Visit justwhatisee.com for many wonderful galleries of iPhone photography
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  • Reply CityKin May 6, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    I like the photos a alot.
    This is the first time I felt like I should get an iPhone as I have missed hundreds of great shots by not having a camera handy, and I always carry a phone.

  • Reply MT May 6, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Having the camera handy is really useful even if you aren’t using it for artistic purposes. I’ve taken pictures of things just so I can remember them.

  • Reply Partners in Grime May 8, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Great shots!

  • Reply ElliR July 22, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    This is absolutely inspirational. I can’t believe that I’ve walked around all these years with a camera phone in my pocket and have missed so many ‘good shot’ opportunities. I must be mad!!
    Not any more though – you’ve inspired me to view street life in a completely different way and now, like you, the not particularly discrete 40D will start gathering dust.

  • Reply MT July 22, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Thanks for your comment. Just wanted to make it clear, that I’m NOT the photographer. Make sure you visit Greg Schmigel’s site- justwhatisee.com

  • Reply iryna August 24, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    how do you get photos from iphone in 5×7. I tried to print 4×6 online and they were mark !, which means -would not look good. Thank you

  • Reply MT August 25, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Make sure that you’re downloading the images from your iPhone. If you email the photo, it sends a lower resolution version. The full resolution photo should be good enough for 5×7, definitely 4×6.

  • Reply iryna August 25, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Thank you for your answer. I guess, I don’t know how to download images from my iphone. Please, tell me how! I do need some pictures from my phone in full resolution. I don’t know how to transfer photos from my iphone to my PC. I tried… many times and many ways. I was searching online for my problem, but wasn’t able to find the answer. Thanks for your time.

  • Reply brock August 26, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I’d like to know how he post processes those images. He does get some wonderful shots, but the iPhone has an incredibly noisy camera. I’d like to see something about this workflow.

  • Reply MT August 26, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    You can email me at morris (at) morristsai.com and I can try to help you.
    So, what’s happening when you plug your iPhone into your PC?

  • Reply MT August 26, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    You can always go to justwhatisee.com and ask him. I know he adjusts contrast and does a little bit of color correcting but I don’t remember him saying anything about noise reduction. I’ve taken some photos that turn out great, but if the light’s not really good, I definitely see some noise.

  • Reply The House of Husar December 31, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Great article. I have enjoyed photography on my iPhone so much that I started a Polaroid photo blog dedicated just to the photos I have taken on my iPhone.
    Visit my photo blog at http://polaroids.husar.us

  • Reply Glyn Evans January 4, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Check out Greg’s latest interview along with other iPhoneographers interviews at http://www.iphoneography.com/journal/2009/1/2/the-iphoneography-interview-with-greg-schmigel-of-just-what.html

  • Reply AussieDingo July 27, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Great blog, great read, I am loving my iPhone. taking photography back to basics!

  • Reply MT July 28, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    @AussieDingo Great iPhone pics!

  • Reply Oliver Foxley March 1, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Great photography – it just goes to show that one can produce compelling photographs from virtually any camera if you know what you’re doing and crucially, if you’ve got an ‘eye’ for a photograph. Composition and lighting are the key to every good picture in my opinion, if you know how to use light and composition any camera can be used creatively.
    I started my professional architectural photography career on a Nikon D80 semi pro DSLR, getting into magazines and competing with other photographers using 60 MP Phase One backs. It’s amazing what can be done with an artist’s touch and the fact is the iPhone is not bad at all at taking pics. These look superb.

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