Don’t Forget to Take the Snapshots: Why the Best Camera Really is the One You Have With You

Before I became a photographer, I used the camera on my phone all the time. I took snapshots of family birthday parties, vacation snapshots, and tons of snapshots of my dogs. Anytime something unusual or funny happened, I grabbed my phone and documented it. If I had my nicer DSLR camera out and nearby, I would use that to take photos; however, it never bothered me to take and even post to social media pictures from my camera phone. I was excited to just have photos of those little moments so that I could look back and remember them.

Once I decided to take photography seriously though, things changed. I started only taking pictures with my nice DSLR camera. If I was going to document the moment, I might as well do it right? Right? Also, I became hesitant to post photos to social media that weren't taken with my fancy camera and weren't in amazing lighting. My fear was that, if all of my photos didn't look professional, I wouldn't look like a serious photographer. Instead of simply grabbing my phone which, let's be honest, is almost always attached to me, I would run in the other room to grab my DSLR and the right lens. Of course, by the time I was ready to take the photo, the moment had passed. And trying to get your dog to recreate the adorable sleeping-with-her-tongue-out-with-one-eye-open pose so you can get a photo? Good luck.

What I realized is that I was missing so many moments. Not only was I missing documenting them through photography, I was missing them completely. Instead of noticing the moment and then hurrying to open my camera phone, I was often completely leaving the room to grab my DSLR camera. I also realized that so many of my favorite pictures were ones I took on my phone. They didn't have perfect lighting or composition, but they were captured moments that made me laugh or smile or cry. Sure, my DSLR might have made a nicer photo or better represented my photography skill, but what did that matter if I missed the moment entirely?

One of my favorite pictures of my dog, Rylee, taken just with my camera phone.
This is a photo I snapped quickly on my phone years ago on a walk with my dog. He passed unexpectedly a few years later, and now I'm so glad I took the snapshot. It's not a perfect photo in terms of composition or lighting, but I love it.

I have started taking more photos with my phone lately, and I'm happier for it. I catch more moments and have more memories to look back on. In everyday life, it's often the expression or the memory that matters more than the amount of pixels or the perfect angle. Of course there's a place for professional photography and amazing lighting and composition and I love working to get the perfect photo, but there's also something to be said about just getting the snapshot.

I recently heard the expression "the best camera is the one you have with you," and I couldn't agree more. If I have my DSLR with me and I can get the best lighting, I will do that every time. However, if all I have on me is my camera phone, I'm content these days with just taking the snapshot. Rather than worrying about how the photo could have been better, I'm always glad I have the snapshot.

Resources for Taking Better Pictures With Your Camera Phone

If you're interested in taking even better snapshots with your phone's camera, there are tons of resources out there. Even just a little bit of time spent learning how to take better photos with your camera phone can be so valuable because you can get significantly better snapshots of your life and family. This is an area I encourage even non-photographers to learn about so that you can document your life with better photos simply using your camera phone.

One resource I highly recommend checking out is Craftsy. They have two classes focusing on using your phone's camera to take better photos. One is called Mobile Photography: Perfect Photos in Your Pocket by Jack Davis, and the other is Creative iPhoneography Tips and Tricks by Holly Higbee-Jansen. Creativelive is also an amazing resource for photography classes, and they have a class titled iPhoneography by Sally Cox and several other classes targeted at specific camera phones.

If you're looking for a local resource from a Wichita photographer, there is a class on November 5 at The Cottage Market in Wichita, Kansas hosted by Christi Kidd, a Wichita photographer who specializes in birth, newborn, and children's photography. The class is called Life Captured: Cell Phone Style Workshop, and it is an excellent opportunity to get hands-on lessons in taking better photos with your cell phone camera.

Whether you want to take a class to learn more about cell phone photography or not, throw perfect out the window and get out there and take some snapshots. You'll be glad you have the moment documented to remember years from now!

I just love this photo. The lighting is terrible, it's grainy, and the background is cluttered. However, it's such a nice memory. My husband was out of town for a job interview, and I had the last-minute idea to make signs and put them on our dogs to show "our" support. The dogs weren't thrilled about it and kept wiggling around, so I just grabbed the closest phone I had (my camera phone) and took the shot before they moved. The photo quality is awful, but I'm so glad I have it to remember that moment.

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