The other day, one of our readers, Gianluca, sent me the latest video he made for Sony Italia. He told me about the wonderful experience he had shooting in New York with Steve McCurry, and who wouldn’t believe him – McCurry is one of the most interesting photographers you could ever have the chance to meet. On top of that, he was also the protagonist of the video Gianluca was shooting.
A few days ago, Sony Italia launched a competition where it invites people to send images of special moments taken with a smartphone. The best will be selected for an exhibition in December in the city of Milan supervised by Steve McCurry himself. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, this competition is for Italian residents only.
I have to say that watching one of the most inspiring photographers alive today take photos with a smartphone and promote it for a photography competition was unsettling at first. But then, thinking about it, it is probably a positive thing.
For those who don’t know who Steve McCurry is (and I hope nobody falls into this category), he is known for his work for National Geographic. Some of the photos he took in India became iconic and a reference throughout time. He is also the photographer who used the last roll of Kodachrome ever produced by Kodak.
It is easy to see that Sony’s investment in photography is growing by leaps and bounds. First there was the first Full Frame compact camera (the Sony RX1) and the renowned Sony RX100 series, and now the announcement of the first Full Frame MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera) is imminent and promises to shake the world of photography.
I might have expected to see Steve McCurry promoting the soon-to-be announced Full Frame NEX but instead Sony Italia chose him for its new smartphone, the Xperia Z1, which was launched along with the QX lens camera. Is that surprising? Maybe not.
It is undeniable that as of today smartphones have invaded our daily life and our photography. Even for people who own various cameras such as myself, there is always a moment when you take out your phone to snap a quick picture and capture a moment.
Sometimes your smartphone is simply the most accessible camera to use. And actually, the smartphone is probably the simplest yet most instinctive camera you can find these days. You just compose, press the virtual shutter button and it’s done. Often, it is already in your hands for any given number of reasons (emailing, texting, social networking).
In a way, it is almost as if the more technology advances, the more primitive photography becomes.
You don’t care about settings, sensor size or megapixels. You just take your photo and instantly share it with the world. And now, watching a legendary photographer promote this kind of photography makes it, in a way, a lot more fascinating.
Of course, the smartphone will never be the first choice of anyone enthusiastic about photography but it is becoming more and more of a backup camera. After all, it is better to take a picture with a smartphone than not take it at all. Last but not least, smartphones are indeed the easiest way of instantaneously sharing your photos on your favourite social network or blog. And this aspect is probably the main reason we all enjoy using them.
Smartphones are taking over the compact camera market and manufacturers are trying to compensate by bringing out new products, such as high-end compact cameras like the Fuji X20 or the Sony RX100M2, while pooling their investments into the MILC camera market. If my predictions are correct, in a few years compact cameras will become completely obsolete.
Other companies such as Samsung have proposed a version of their flagship, the Galaxy S4, with an optical zoom included on it, while the Nokia 808 Pureview has a 41 megapixels sensor with a Carl Zeiss lens. Sony recently launched a new concept, a lens with a sensor that you attach to your smartphone and use to take pictures via WiFi or NFC connectivity.
These are just some of the most recent examples but I am sure more surprises are on the way.
And how about you – what do you think about “smartphotography”?
P.S.: By the way, check out Gianluca Catania’s work on his company website, Trees Home. It is worth having a look at!