There’s no getting away from the ubiquity of smartphones these days.
Virtually everyone in the developed world has one, and most of them have a more than usable camera on board.
As I’ve written previously, I’m not ready to rely purely on my smartphone (currently a Sony Xperia Android) for photography.
Nothing against the camera’s capability or convenience, but I just much prefer holding a proper camera with more tactile controls and far superior handling.
Even a cheap digital compact feels so much better to use.
Yet when I started to think about this more deeply, I realised my smartphone is actually pretty deeply embedded in my photography life.
Obviously. As I said, I prefer a proper camera, but for family shots on the hoof, and when might spot something out walking and don’t have any other camera with me, the Xperia does an excellent job.
The camera’s active and ready to shoot with a double press of the power button and a simple tap on screen takes the picture.
Add a Snapseed tweak and the automated saving to Google Photos, and it’s a very appealing and slick set up.
Whilst I generally prefer viewing photos on my iPad or MacBook, I often make an initial sweep through of the photos awaiting editing on my phone.
Most of my photos aren’t made with the phone, but a digital camera with a memory card. I upload the images to my MacBook using a USB card reader, then they sync automatically to Google Photos.
Then I can edit with my phone or iPad, via the Google Photos app.
When I wake my MacBook again, any images deleted from Google Photos are then deleted from the laptop too, so it all stays synced.
The phone has a good enough and large enough screen (better than any camera I have!) to be able to make an assessment on whether a photo is worth keeping.
My first sweep through – to remove any duplicates, missed focused, blurred or otherwise unworthy of keeping photographs – is easy to do with the phone.
Then I usually sweep through again with my iPad or MacBook at a later date for more detailed and decisive editing of those image remaining, on the larger screen.
Where possible I like to use cameras that can get me results I love in camera, without any post processing. Cameras like the Pentax Q and Lumix LX3.
Others need a bit of help, which nearly always comes from one of three or four presets in Snapseed.
Again once the original images are in Google Photos, the phone’s screen is good enough to decide which preset to use. And again, any changes are saved in Google Photos.
Simple, fast, not too much fussing or screen time. Goodness to think I used to scan film myself and the hours it took!
This is something I rarely use my phone for, at least for my own deliberate photography.
For family photos though, I use this frequently, to share images with my wife, and our parents and other immediate family.
Once again, using Google Photos, combined with either WhatsApp or GMail, makes this super simple.
Reading about photography
Any extended reading I do with my iPad or MacBook. But to catch up with a post here and there or a few blog comments, I’ll use my phone while I have a spare few minutes.
I try to avoid writing with the phone – aside from a few text/WhatsApp messages – as it just gets too fiddly and frustrating. I even avoid this on the iPad, much preferring a proper keyboard.
I almost entirely avoid viewing other people’s photos on my phone as it does them a disservice. Anyone who shares their images with you surely deserves the chance of you seeing them on a decent screen, not a mere few square inches of smartphone? (Ahem, what’s the main reason I don’t use Instagram again?)
I could certainly do without the phone for reading about photography but it’s handy to have sometimes when the words are the focus, and not images.
So as you can see, my smartphone actual forms quite a pivotal role in my photography life, even though I don’t use it much at all for my deliberate photography.
I could probably adapt to live without it, but there seems no need when it is very handy in a number of ways.
How about you? How do you use your phone for making, editing, processing, sharing and reading about photographs?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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