Really, it’s not. That’s what many think: “If I have a great camera, my images should also be great.”

For a professional, the camera does matter. We need to know lots of things: aperture, focal length, shutter speed, depth of field, auto focus, barrel distortion, chromatic aberration and to name just a few. There’s plenty more terminology and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by industry jargon. But I don’t care why an f-stop is given that name. I only need to know what it does and what look it gives me.

Along comes the smartphone. Photography changes. It’s dumbed down.The masses have access to decent cameras built into their phones as well as low cost DSLR’s. Everyone is now a journalist/photographer. Or are they?

To prove a point and when I have the opportunity to teach, I unleash the smartphone. It’s a challenge since I mostly have no control…mostly. I may have exposure compensation I can tweak, the choice of B&W or Color, flash: on or off, but that’s about it. There are “looks” the smartphone apps provide: sprocket holes, Polaroid borders — basically an entire range of effects that give your images a hipster flavor. But in the end,  perception rules. Finding the moment when all things visual align and a great composition presents itself is what it’s all about.

This site is filled with phone photos. No special techniques, no Photoshop heavy manipulations.  I take what the phone gives me and upload. Hopefully I’m doing what many others are also showing: it’s not the camera, but how one perceives their surroundings and then captures it. It’s something we all can learn with   a bit of perseverance and some luck.

John Welsh