We all know there’s more than one downside to the omnipresent smartphone–the invention of the ‘selfie’, the calloused thumbs, the inability to bullshit our way through a discussion about, well, anything that can be Googled.
But you know what my favorite upside is? The ability to take a picture at any given moment. No, I’m not talking about catching a nominee for the ‘People of Wal-Mart’ blog; I’m talking about taking pictures of my kids.
The truth is, I really didn’t take any pictures at all before I succumbed to the allure of that sleek rectangular gadget. In fact, everything I’ve learned about photography has indirectly been the result of stumbling across a photo app a few years ago. Now that I’m able to take photos at any given moment, countless events that were once seemingly insignificant (like, uh, dental visits) have been captured on-the-fly, off-the-cuff, and even in middle of the street. The fact is, even if I <em>had</em> owned a camera, those spur-of-the-moment memories would likely have never been immortalized had I not been wielding my trusty iPhone.
So the next time someone collides into me on the street whilst checking Facebook, I’m going to think about that perfect photo of my kid–the one that was taken by a phone, the one that’s going be sitting on the mantle for the next six years, and yes, even the one that’s going to be sitting on a hard drive for the next sixteen.
Sure, I’ll likely succumb to carpal tunnel syndrome within the next year or two and end up with the permanent posture of someone decades older than me, but that hike we took on our family vacation? It holds a permanent place via some pixels in square form.
And when I’m in line for a coffee and the guy in front of me is haphazardly ordering a chai tea latte with almond milk and an extra pump of chai while day trading stocks, instead of whacking him upside the head, I’ll just take it as a trade-off. He gets to be obnoxious, I get to remember that look on my daughter’s face when she’s grown, and maybe her kids will get to know her a little bit better because of it.
Admittedly, not all of the disadvantages involve other people, and the perceived urgency my phone causes in me is distressing. It’s just slightly possible that I don’t need to take my phone in with me every time I use the bathroom. And it’s probably a good idea to actually interact with my kids in addition to getting the perfect shot for Instagram.
Maybe, if I’m lucky, my kids will take up photography. Or at least look back on the photos I’ve taken and appreciate them. It’s possible that in a few short years they will have their own phones and will be telling me to go stand in front of some foggy woodland scene so they can post it somewhere. I certainly hope so. I’ll try not to be annoyed.
Jeff can usually be found roaming the streets of Northampton, Massachusetts, pretending to deliver mail. Between deliveries he takes pictures with his iPhone, always in search of new ways of interpreting the world around him. His editing style ranges from minimal to outrageous, and constant experimentation, collaboration, and inspiration from other mobile photographers keeps Jeff motivated to try new things.