Photo Miscellany

 In Photography

I’ve always loved photography. Back in the late ’90s I had a mentor who was a Naval photographer, and he convinced me to buy my first SLR camera. He taught me a lot about composition, development, and the golden triangle of photo-taking. The problem, though, was that unless I was developing the film myself—which I did from time to time in my parents—basement (note: if you do this, have proper ventilation so you don’t wind up lying on the kitchen floor, the room spinning and your mother standing over you wondering what in the world is wrong with you)—it got to be pretty expensive. Digital cameras weren’t around yet, so if I didn’t find a way to get the film developed, it just sat there. I probably still have at least a dozen undeveloped rolls in my closet, ten years later. It would definitely be interesting to see what’s on those.

Because of the costs, I kind of put photography on the shelf for a while, except for on trips and maybe the single-day photo walk here and there. And eventually, I sold my camera to get money to move to New York.

Digital cameras have rekindled my excitement for photography. Not that I ever really lost it, but like a muscle you never use, it atrophied. I bought my first digital camera about six years ago, and for a month I was a photo maniac. Nothing was safe from my lens’ eye. I shot buildings, people, fruit, trash—whatever I could find. And it was great. Then, on one terrible, terrible evening, I exited a cab in front of my apartment in Astoria and left my new friend behind.

Once again, I was in the land of no photos.

It wasn’t until recently—within the last two years—that I started shooting again. And this time I’m not relying on some fancy equipment with a zoom lens or a million settings; I’m using my iPhone.

I rarely talk on the phone, and I don’t need a 100 apps to play with. My phone basically acts as an iPod and a camera now. Of the maybe 30 apps I do have, over half of them are related to photography and photo editing. The beauty of them is that I can shoot and edit right on my phone. Since really diving into this over the past six months, I’ve probably shot 5,000 photos. Some good, some bad, but all fun and all moved from a raw shot to a final image right on my phone. It’s pretty amazing.

Best CameraI’m sure there are a ton of people out there who shoot photos with iPhones and have found some way to market it. But the first person I came across doing it was Chase Jarvis. I figured there must be books of iPhone photography in bookstores, so one day I started doing some research and his name came up. His book, The Best Camera is the One That’s With You, is just plain awesome. Its contents really show you just how far you can stretch an iPhone when it comes to photography, and it’s been like a bible to me since I found it. Plus, like I do with most things that interest me, I’ve researched the hell out of Jarvis and his work. Turns out he’s located in Seattle–land that I love—and he’s worked with a lot of local environmental and arts organizations there, which is obviously something I respect a lot.

The other cool thing about Jarvis is that he’s utilized social networking to turn this book and its accompanying Web site into a living, breathing thing that’s become wildly popular. The Best Camera iPhone app allows you to feed your shots into the site from anywhere, and it’s updated in real-time with a photo stream that is beautiful, not only in content, but also in concept. Through Twitter he’s organized photo walkabouts and broadcasted live shoots from his studio. It’s really inspiring to watch all of this happen, and it’s certainly caused me to rediscover what I can and want to do with a camera.

And there are other iPhone and DSLR photographers out there as well. Just go seek them out and you’re guaranteed to find some amazing inspiration.

Also, speaking of Seattle, there’s the Daily Seattle Photo Web site, which is good for a smile.

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