Editorials, Food For Thought, The Vault 0

Goodbye Old Friend: How the iPhone5 Transformed My Photography

“The Best Camera is the One That’s With You…”

From early on, I always latched on to that sentiment and still do to this day. While the photographic tools one uses can have an tremendous, and sometimes overriding effect on the ease of which compelling images can be captured, I believe the creative eye behind the lens can make due with far less and generate quality from limitations.

Case in point: the rise of mobile photography.

For many, the use of professional hardware and equipment is their only means to an end. For example, many studio, portrait, and editorial photographers rightfully relay heavily on the performance of their camera and lighting equipment. On location landscape and wildlife photographers employ the benefits of a wide variety of interchangeable lens options, fast and accurate multi-point autofocus systems, and staggering ISO performance.

For myself, however, primarily a street photographer, prone to capture images of events unfolding in fleeting moments, the iPhone5 was my go-to companion, especially since I didn’t have the ability to carry around my Fuji X-100 or DSLR throughout my work week.


 Learning Though Limitations.

To say a smartphone’s camera has limitations compared to even the most basic dedicated mirrorless or compact system camera options would be an understatement. Even the iPhone5 and 5s – widely regarded as one of the best mobile cameras to date – is hindered by its nature as a communications device primarily. You won’t find a large imaging sensor, or even a myriad of manual controls. You won’t be graced with the ability to shoot in the dark at high ISOs or control depth of field at a variety of focal lengths. For me, capturing images on a mobile device requires a different mindset from the on-set – a different set of rules that has become somewhat of a baseline for my personal photography and still follows me no matter which camera I find myself using.

The iPhone5’s inherent technical limitations left more of a demand on an image’s framing and balance.

Over the past two years, I’ve had more of a focus on symmetrical elements within an image, generating more visual flare from existing architectural or natural characteristics, while blending in candid or non-candid moments – a formula practiced in the image below:


Moreover, due to the iPhone5’s resolution and dynamic range constraints, I found myself intentionally capturing more and more silhouettes and exposing for the brighter elements within a particular scene. Doing so added a dose of drama and mystery to an image – something I enjoy capturing in street life – while consequently making the post-processing job more manageable and organic.


The change in style I found myself utilizing with a smartphone has now carried over into my general photographic focus, regardless of the tools I find myself using. As a result, I feel as though the iPhone – iPhone5 in particular – has made me a better photographer. It has made me more aware of my surroundings, and that element can further benefit a photo.

As the iPhone 6 and 6 plus are released, and the next chapter in my mobile photography journey begins, I feel a strong sense of appreciation of my time with the iPhone5. Having it with me at all times, seeing and capturing moments I won’t soon forget and reiterating the notion that the best camera is the one that’s with you.

In parting, here are some of my favorite images captured and edited with the iPhone5. More can be viewed and discussed on Instagram.


Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset







All images were taken and edited on the iPhone 5 by Manuel Calle.

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