Getting Better All The Time

Better, better, better

Over the past 60 days or so, I’ve been feverishly editing my body of work, combing my archives, for 3 new possible books on iPhoneography.

What I’ve noticed, quite clearly, other times quite sadly, is that my earlier work, say from the iPhone 4 (2010) to the iPhone XS (2018), wasn’t as crispy or punchy as my more current work. Sigh.

It’s not that my early work wasn’t defined or refined. It was. Sorta.

It’s just it wasn’t technically consistent, across the board.

The photography game, in my personal and humble experience, completely changed when Apple introduced the three-lens camera array on the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max models in 2019. These models featured a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 12-megapixel telephoto lens, and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, offering optical zoom and a wider field of view. The three-lens camera array also enabled features such as Night Mode, Deep Fusion, and improved Portrait Mode. The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max were the first iPhones to have a triple-camera system on the back.

There was no looking back. And the photos I was producing, felt like it.

But, as singular and significant as a camera’s drive is to aid the photographer in creating the possibility of more powerful, more remarkable, and more memorable photographs, it is still only a part of the story.

So as I continue to look at my corpus of work and see, without a doubt, a worthy-of-attention improvement in my photographs with each iPhone model iteration, I ask myself: what exactly is getting better?

The Technology

The technology is obvious and most definitely getting better. The iPhone has come a long way since its debut in 2007, when it had a 2-megapixel camera that could only take still photos and no video. Now, the latest iPhone models have cameras that rival professional DSLRs in terms of quality, versatility, and functionality. The iPhone cameras have also introduced innovations such as computational photography, which uses software algorithms to enhance the images captured by the hardware sensors.

As Chase Jarvis, a renowned photographer, said: “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” The iPhone is always with me, ready to capture any moment that catches my eye. It’s also easy to use, intuitive, and fun. I don’t have to worry about settings, lenses, or accessories. I just point and shoot.

Viola. Click.

The Technique

The technique is also getting better. With each new iPhone model, I learn new ways to use its features and capabilities to create better photographs. I experiment with different angles, perspectives, compositions, lighting conditions, and editing tools. I also study the works of other iPhone photographers and learn from their tips and tricks.

As Dorothea Lange, a famous documentary photographer, and photojournalist, said: “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” The iPhone camera has taught me how to see the world differently, how to find beauty in the ordinary, and how to tell stories with images.

The Talent

The talent is also getting better. With each new photograph I take, I improve my skills and develop my style. I also challenge myself to try new genres and themes, such as street photography, landscape photography, portrait photography, abstract photography, common object photography, travel photography, etc. I explore my creativity and express my personality through my photographs.

As Henri Cartier-Bresson, a master of candid photography and the founder of Magnum Photos, said: “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” I have taken more than 10,000 photographs, way more, with my iPhone over the years, and I can see how much I have progressed since then. I can also see how much more I can improve in the future. Better, better, better.

The Passion

My passion is also getting better. With each new photograph I make (not take), I feel more joy and satisfaction. I also feel more connected to myself and to others who share my passion for photography. I love sharing my photographs with my friends, family, and followers on social media platforms. I also love receiving feedback and comments from them.

As Ansel Adams, a legendary landscape photographer, and environmentalist, said: “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” I make photographs with my iPhone because it makes me happy. It’s not just a hobby or a pastime for me; it’s a way of life.

Better All The Time

The very cool thing about this gradual but noticeable improvement in my work, and likely your work too, is not the isolation of any of these parts but the seamless combination and integration of them working together, which makes the process and product of photography so breathtakingly magical.

Yes for sure it’s good to have a flagship camera as a silent partner in the creative process.

But it’s also equally good to have a trained set of eyes, a nimble outlook, a dedicated drive, a humble heart, an inviting smile, a fearless attitude, a tireless rinse-and-repeat curiosity, and, most of all, an anthropomorphic love for the craft of photography that often rivals human intimacies.

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better, it’s getting better all the time.

As Destin Sparks, a self-taught photographer, and digital artist, said: “Photography is the story I fail to put into words.” I hope my iPhone photography can tell you my story, and inspire you to tell yours.



Jack Hollingsworth