Skip to content

Reader Question: Too Many Limitations?

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
1 min read

Reader Jorge E. wrote in about my last interview:

...After reading your last interview at Mylio and that, at the moment, you only use your iPhone camera, I am curious. Does that not limit yourself too much? I am not thinking so much about high ISO or depth of field, but particularly about focal length. Phone cameras always carry wide angle lenses, and you already know that that's not the most recommended choice for portraits. Don't you ever have the need to make a good portrait of your son with a short tele, so both of you will have a high-quality memory of what his face was like as a kid?

Lens distortion really isn’t an issue for me for a few reasons. I don’t really do portraits in the traditional sense. I try to capture moments (or events) that are not necessarily just about fitting a face into a frame. I wouldn't even notice the distortion (if it exists).

Even if I did traditional portraits, it could be a great creative problem to solve, not necessarily a technical problem. Working with the gear you have is often a helpful constraint. Sometimes, it's helpful in ways we can't even imagine until well after the photos are made.

When I look back at the most memorable pictures my parents took during my childhood, they were made with 110, 126-127 or disc cameras. They’re as messed up as photos can be, but it gave them a sense of time and place that is so special, iOS developers are churning out apps by the dozens to try to re-create the same effects. They can’t. It's not a technical problem to be solved.

I don’t really worry about the iPhone being inadequate for quality, since I measure quality by what the photo does to people, not technical aspects. I guess one could even worry about our modern photos being too good and having no character. But why worry at all?

Life is too fleeting to get bogged down by it. It’s much easier to capture what’s fleeting with an iPhone and document your life instead of living to document.