We’ve all heard the cliche: the best camera is the one you have with you. And there’s usually a reason something becomes cliche — because, at least to some extent, it’s true.
In this case? Totally 100% TRUE.
Here’s the perfect example. That photo above? Taken with an iPhone 5c. I went on a photo walk yesterday. I thought I’d drive myself up to Mt. Charleston and take a hike I hadn’t been on — Mary Jane Falls. I wanted to capture a few nice shots. Maybe do a few yoga poses. Have a nice afternoon strolling about the mountain.
I got about a quarter mile into my hike and saw a tree stump that I thought would be great to sit on for a creative self-portrait. I walked over and scoped out the scene. I found the perfect angle to set up my tripod. I checked for the best light and best background. I started setting up my camera equipment — put the camera on the tripod, adjusted the angle and height of the tripod, checked the ISO of my camera. And then. Yeah…then. Then I noticed an error code reading on my camera screen. Well, crap. I left my memory cards at home!!
At that precise moment, I looked up and saw how perfectly the light was hitting my tree stump. I slumped over a bit. I was thoroughly disappointed. What a great picture that would have been!
After a momentary moping session I decided I wasn’t going to skip my photo. I had a back up camera. Sort of. I had my iPhone!
I literally repeated that mantra in my head: the best camera is the one you have with you.
So the iPhone is my best camera. So what? Take your picture. Capture your moment. Don’t let the memory pass simply because you don’t have the fanciest camera to work with.
I still wasn’t sure how to take this picture. I didn’t have my phone tripod with me. How would I even prop the phone up? I almost gave up and settled for a handheld selfie. But then I noticed a spot on my regular tripod in which I might be able to wedge my phone. I didn’t know if it would hold or if that spot was even the right size/width. But I stuck the phone in there, and the darn thing stayed (honestly, I think it was quite a brilliant idea — I may just use that ridiculously large tripod to hold my little phone in the future for things like this).
I’m sure a person or two noticed my little turquoise-cased phone being held by a rather large tripod. But so what? Let them think it looks silly. It does.
But I captured my moment, a moment that would be otherwise gone.
So if you’re just getting into photography, and you’re feeling intimidated by all the professional photographers with big, expensive, fancy cameras — don’t be. If the only camera you have is a point and shoot, use it. If the only camera you have is on your phone, use it. If you have an old, clunky, first-generation DSLR, use it. It doesn’t matter what you have. Use the camera you have. Get to know it. Get to know light and shadow and the settings you can change. Find out what makes for the best pictures on your camera and what makes for the worst.
I’ve seen people with state-of-the-art cameras take poor pictures. And I’ve seen people with mediocre cameras take stellar pictures.
Do what you can with what you have, and forget the rest. Enjoy the creative process, and don’t look back!