Are Smartphone Photographers a Threat to Professionals? (No)

Curators’ Corner

Are Smartphone Photographers a Threat to Professionals? (No)

As camera phones become more technologically advanced with every update and release, it’s no surprise that everyday handheld devices are replacing point and shoot cameras in many households. Camera manufacturers are experiencing the brunt of the trend, many reporting noticeable dips in sales of compact cameras.

To understand the shift, we first must consider why people take photos. Since the dawn of cultured civilizations, humans have been fascinated by the ability to capture moments, expressions, scenery and emotions. Whether painted on a vase, printed on paper or etched in stone, images allow both the artist and muse to live on for eternity. We take photos to solidify ourselves in time, to tell others that “we were there.”

The genius of the smartphone is that it has democratized technology by collapsing several necessary modern devices into one compact computer fitting comfortably into a purse or pocket. Accessibility is essential when it comes to capturing life’s spontaneous moments, and people now walk around with a decent camera already in hand.

But, photographers still hold the true advantage when it comes to the technology available. Picture quality matters, and larger cameras produce better photographs, point blank. Camera phones may have assisted in the upward trend in popularity of photography, as more advanced cameras are actually seeing an increase in sales amidst the changing landscape.

In addition to quality, photographers also have intent versus instinct on their side. Professionals put a lot of forethought into their work and shoot with a predetermined purpose that becomes clear in their product, whereas smartphone photographers spontaneously snap photos of their current environment with little to no pre-thought or planning.

Humans have an ability to detect true artistry, and professional photographers who dedicate their lives to the craft have the opportunity–now more than ever–to set their work apart through their passion and willingness to venture to the ends of the earth in the pursuit of the perfect shot.

The fact remains that art prevails the ripples of time and the passing of trends. Not to say camera phones are a fad, but until our handheld devices can capture a photo that can be blown up to 16×20 without appearing pixelated, interchangeable lens cameras will still dominate the field. There’s nothing wrong with being a smartphone photographer, either. It’s the fulfillment of capturing the moment that  matters most.