mobile photography

undercover photos

Back in 2003 when i got my first mobile phone that could take pictures, i knew it was a very important feature. That was also the time when we seen two sets of mobile users emerge – those that embrace technology and those that want ‘retro’ simplicity and see new technology as a useless distraction…


The problem the iphone has created is that it’s almost an alien device to the people who are stuck in the pre 2003-era. They’ll ask to make a call and if you give them your iphone or any touchscreen device, you’ll get that puzzled look.

That might seem like a trivial thing but it’s one of the main reasons why you need to keep up with technology, you’ll just get left behind otherwise. It’s a lesson i’ve learned from an early age… i don’t want to be one of those people that in 50 years time hasn’t got a clue what kids are talking about or if i ask someone for their phone, i don’t want to have to ask for help to use it.

It’s a small indication of a much bigger ‘attitude towards technology’ problem. If i’m to work in and around technology, nothing should be alien to me or that should be the goal.

Photos are useless without being able to share them

From 2003 onwards, i took photos on a regular basis with my phones. Hundreds, thousands… the one problem i had was that sharing them wasn’t easy. Ok, i could transfer them to my PC but they were still offline and back in those days there was no such thing as uploading photos to the net on a mobile device, at least not at a reasonable cost.

Now, i can take a photo and have it uploaded to twitter or flickr in seconds. It’ll appear on my profile along with a description and possibly geo-coordinates so people know where i am. It’s that ability to share which encourages me to take more photos. It’s easy, or easier than it once was.

Here’s a few examples of photos i’ve taken on my iphone over the past few weeks which unless i had my iphone, i would never have taken…

dundrum town center

dundrum town center

dundrum town center


dundrum town center


Big deal, so you took a few photos…

That would be most people’s reaction to those photos above because none of them are particularly interesting however how ‘interesting’ those photos are depends on who you are… if you’re a random browser who’s stumbled upon this post and doesn’t know me, anything about me or can’t even read / speak english, then the photos will have little value to you other than the fact they might be prettier to look at than reams of text.

However, if you’re related to me and you stumble upon these photos 100 years down the line then all of a sudden they come with much greater value attached to them for you. They mean more because they’ve come from me.

Also, you could be looking for a picture of a lazy black cat – all of a sudden my seemingly ‘useless’ picture is valuable.


Or perhaps you’re watching a football match and see arsene wenger wearing a ridiculously long coat and you want to double check online to make sure you’re eyes aren’t deceiving you. Because that’s exactly what i did and then i snapped this picture…

arsenge wenger

So the value of photos changes from one person to the next. In some cases some photos are just stunning photos no matter who you are. The vast majority of photos coming from people like me though, will be of average / low quality and of day to day, relatively personal things. That doesn’t make then less valuable to certain people, in fact it increases the value of them.

The bottom line is that our eyes are taking millions or billions of photos every single day. We see funny, stupid, random and sad things regularly but sometimes we just can’t capture them on camera because they happen so fast. If we can capture just a tiny percentage of those moments, we’re creating real value for a lot of people not just now, but in the future.

Leave a Reply