Professional photographers the world over rue the day smartphone manufacturers started adding cameras to their devices. With the first phone-mounted camera came the beginning of a steady decline in the professional photography industry. Pro photographers still exist, but they are having to shift to different types of work to stay in business.
Truth be told, smartphone photos are fairly good. Their quality gets better with each subsequent generation of phones. Yet they are still not of the same quality as professional shots. They never will be. Why? Because hardware is only half the equation. Human photographers do things that no piece of equipment can do on its own. Therein lies the difference in quality.
Phones Are Just Machines
We love our smartphones, don’t we? But at the end of the day, they are just machines. They can only do what we tell them to do. A smartphone camera can only respond to a tap on the screen that sends a command to snap the image. By itself, the smartest of smartphones cannot decide what to shoot, how to frame it, etc.
Professional photographers see more than just images when framing their shots. For example, when Salt Lake City’s Vargo Photography sets out to do a photo shoot, they are looking to tell a story. Indeed, this is one of the fundamentals of professional commercial photography. Images tell stories that lend themselves well to marketing.
The same principle holds true outside of marketing. Take wedding photography, for example. The pictures in every wedding album tell the story of that magical day. Needless to say, some photos tell the story better than others.
Not Quite the Same
As long as we are talking about wedding photography, shots taken with an army of smartphones just aren’t the same. Yet that is the trend right now. Rather than hiring a professional photographer, couples are merely asking their friends to take shots with their phones.
Weeks after the event, the couple sits down to go through all the shots their guests sent them. They choose the best ones to compile into a wedding album.
Soliciting wedding photographs this way does lead to a more authentic photo shoot, but amateur shots are not quite the same. They do not capture the same emotions. They do not capture those perfect moments that tell the story. Sure, a guest will produce an exceptionally good shot from time to time. But by and large, amateurs on their smartphones fail to replicate what the pros can do.
We Have Come a Long Way
Professional photography aside, it is hard to deny that we have come a long way in the short time smartphones have been on the market. The earliest camera phones were no better than the cheapest digital cameras you could purchase from a big box department store. They functioned, which is probably the best thing you could say about them.
In the years since, phone manufacturers have put a lot of time and effort into improving their cameras. They have added better lenses and developed better CMOS image sensors. They have put time and effort into creating apps that lend themselves well to producing good images.
If you want to take better photographs for your own collections, a modern smartphone will generally do the trick. There is no longer a need to buy an expensive DSLR and a variety of specialized lenses. But if you want pro-quality photos for your business, even the best smartphone is not going to cut it. Pro-quality demands the services of a professional photographer.