Us photographers have all heard it form other photographers, or said it ourselves: “The best camera is the one that’s with you.”
But for those of us with multiple cameras, with thousands of pounds tied up in lenses, it’s not always something we really believe. I mean, come on, I get what the quote is getting at, but really… The best?
Fair enough, the new iPhone 14 Pro looks like it takes pretty tasty. But if like me your “gear fund” has gone into cameras and you’re still strolling round with a rusty old iPhone (I’ve got a 7), your best camera is definitely not the one that’s with you most of the time.
But I digress. The point of this post is to demonstrate that… well, the camera you have with you doesn’t need to be “the best” for you to enjoy the simple pleasures of photography.
Rhossili Bike Ride / My Impromptu Photo Tour of the Gower Peninsula
I live in a beautiful part of Wales and love getting out on my mountain bike whenever possible. Hugging the little craggy paths along the coast are my favourite. I tend not to take my Fuji XT4 with me, not because it’s too big or heavy, but because I cycle to get fresh air and exercise. And I know that if I have my camera with me, I’m going to end up shooting more than cycling.
But, judging by my last ride, I might as well just start taking my camera anyway, as I spent most of the “ride” snapping pictures with my old iPhone 7.
I was listening to a fantastic podcast called the Visual Storytelling Podcast with Fred Ranger. It was a good two-hour ride so I listened to a couple of episodes. In one, Fred was talking to Phil Penman, a fantastic street shooter who specialises in high contrast monochrome images. It gave me the itch to shoot so I got my phone out and stuck it in “Noir” mode.
More and more, as I get older, I realise that what I love about photography is the actual act of exploring and creating, pointing in the direction of things that make life worth living. Clicking the shutter button.
It is truly one of those times that I go into a sort of fugue state, when I lose track of time and forget myself. As Fred discusses in a previous episode, it is very much a form of meditation. I returned home from my bike ride feeling fulfilled, creatively as well as physically.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is, I suppose if it’s not all about the images, and much more about the act of shooting, creating… Maybe it’s true, maybe any old camera will do.
And if you get images you love and want to share as a result, well that’s an added bonus.
I shot all of these with my iPhone 7 Plus. I like the Noir setting and think it looks much better than any of the colour settings. They’re a little bit digital, over sharpened… But they’re not bad considering.
What I really like about shooting with my iPhone is how no one really thinks anything of you taking their picture. You pose no threat – especially while you’re sitting on your bike. Smartphones are so part of today’s culture that they are almost invisible, whereas a camera with a long lens on it might arouse suspicions.
I haven’t edited any of the images other than straightening them out and/or adjusting the aspect ratio. I think shooting monochrome makes this a lot easier as there’s less to faff over. Shooting SOOC (straight out of camera) is a really lovely, liberating way to shoot and I think it’s how I plan to shoot moving forward. I’ve written more about it here if you’re interested.
My Photography Workshops on the Gower Peninsula, Swansea, South Wales, UK
Want to exercise your creative eye in the gorgeous Gower? Whether you’re a total beginner, an iPhone photographer or DSLR/mirrorless shooter, I’d love to spend some time with you showing you round and learning new approaches.
What do you think? Can you scratch the itch with any old camera? Or are you only satisfied with your “proper” camera?