More than a year ago, I met in Singapore with Paul Chai, Group Editor at Ink Publishing (the custom publishing house that produces Tiger Airways’ inflight magazine, Tiger Tales). Paul and I spoke about a lot of things that day, but our discussion about the growth, ubiquity and increasing quality of mobile photography stayed with me all these months later. I recently reached out to Paul about this, reminding him of our conversation, and asking him if he’d be open to publishing some of my mobile photography in one of his magazines; excitingly, he said yes. The following appeared in the March/April 2015 edition of Tiger Tales Magazine.
Acclaimed photographer Scott A. Woodward’s work has appeared everywhere from The New York Times to international ad campaigns for Google and Adidas. But he believes we can all take great photographs with the devices in our pockets, and here he shares his candid iPhone snaps and top tips.
I believe that photography is the most accessible and democratic form of artistic expression. The ubiquity of digital cameras — on mobile phones or small point-and-shoot cameras, all the way to large, powerful DSLR or medium-format cameras — is making it ever simpler to capture high-quality images anywhere, anytime.
But making great photographs has little to do with owning the best and most expensive equipment. I believe that the real secret behind great photography is in how you see a moment and interpret it in a still frame, regardless of what type of camera you are using. Are you able to make something ordinary appear extraordinary by showing it differently? Are you able to make the viewer feel an emotion when they see your photograph?
I find it hard to imagine what I did before I owned an iPhone. I’ve shot more pictures in the past five years than I have in my entire life, making more than 25,000 images on my phone that I would never have created if I’d not had a camera in my pocket at all times. My iPhone has undoubtedly made me a better photographer. And an endless stream of imagery floating across my Instagram or Twitter feeds from photographers across the globe provides me with constant stimulation and inspiration. As photographer Chase Jarvis put it, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” And my phone always is.
That’s why I love shooting with it on vacation: rather than actively hunting for photographs, I am allowed the freedom to let the photographs find me. The result is a different kind of travel and photographic experience than I am used to having when working with my 35mm cameras. It is refreshing, but more than anything else, it is liberating.
I have always called my style “Choose Your Own Adventure Photography” after the books I used to read as a child. Literally and creatively, I can go in one direction and discover a remarkable opportunity; or I can go in another and find something entirely different. It is this serendipity that is the beauty of photography for me.
As anyone who loves photography will attest, you cannot turn creativity on and off; amazing photographic opportunities exist all around us. And the time I spend exploring, experiencing and documenting destinations with only my iPhone further validates this philosophy.
Be a tourist in your own city. There are fascinating places, characters and stories everywhere – even in our own backyards. Practice makes perfect.
The more creative you get, the more you’ll learn. The more you find out what works and what doesn’t work, the better your photographs will be. Or maybe you’ll just get lucky and make a beautiful accident.
Try and remain true to yourself. If you are passionate about a certain type of photography, embrace it and go for it.
DEVELOP A STYLE
Try to develop a personal photographic style. Find a unique signature, something that you can be known for visually.