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  • Mark Pemberton

Smartphones.... Are they killing the art of photography

Chances are you’re reading this blog on your smartphone, you shop, you bank, you communicate using this device, in fact your life revolves around that small electronic device you carry around in your pocket. Smartphones are so advanced and personal to us, that, like it or loathe it, they’ve actually become an extension of ourselves.

There is one smartphone activity though that we haven’t yet mentioned, the one we all use, some of us on a daily basis, and that is capturing that memory or moment in time using your smartphone camera.

So, should picture-taking using the camera on your phone even be called ‘photography’ and more importantly are smartphones to blame for the demise of the art form?

Let’s consider the following statistics ...

· There are over 5 billion smartphone users in the world, representing 66% of the global population. The population of users grew by a staggering 93 million in 2020 while the number of new smartphones used daily is more than one million. · According to estimates, a total of 1.2 trillion digital photos will be taken worldwide this year, that is roughly 160 pictures for every one of the roughly 7.5 billion people inhabiting planet earth. · 85% of all the photographs taken this year will be done so using a smartphone while the remaining 15% will be taken using a digital camera. · A recent survey cites that 90% of all people who take pictures have only done so on a camera phone.

Few of us now see the need to carry a dedicated device for taking photos or videos, hence the sales of digital camera sales have slumped in recent years. By the end of 2004 the camera phone was riding high and over half of the phones sold worldwide in the first 9 months of that year had a camera.

There is no doubt that social media plays a huge part in the popularity of photography these days, particularly with the launch of the photo sharing app Instagram which was launched in October 2010. We have the opportunity to take a photo and literally in the blink of an eye it has been shared around the world and will be out there in cyberspace forever!

We capture so many more photos each year, but apart from those you share on social media who sees them? Photos are no longer printed and treasured like they once were, I think that’s such a shame. Gone are the days when you can get the old albums out and reminisce about times gone by, photos evoke many memories.

Take a look at the following Instagram statistics ...

· There are 1.074 billion active monthly users on Instagram in 2021 · More than 50 billion photos have been uploaded to Instagram so far. · 1,074 photos are uploaded on Instagram every second, that is 64,440 per minute and a staggering 3,866.4 million images every hour!

I often hear people say that ‘everyone is a photographer nowadays’, but are they? Without wishing to sound controversial or disrespectful I don’t agree, anyone can point a smartphone camera at something or someone and get a reasonable result but that doesn’t make them a ‘photographer’ in my eyes. You can have the top of the range all singing all dancing smartphone or digital camera but if you don’t have an eye for a good photograph then you’ve wasted your money!

Even though phones nowadays are loaded with more and more features and filters, they may not be helping people become creative photographers. For me photography is a moment, it’s a decision, and the decisions you make can be the difference between a good photo and a fantastic photo. There are so many things to consider while taking a picture, one of the most important things for photography is light, you need to think about light, where it’s coming from and, does it have the desired effect on the picture and what you want to achieve? Composition, perspective, leading lines, symmetry, framing etc not to mention the technical side of things. The key to a successful picture is the willingness to think outside the box, try new angles, be creative and above all have enthusiasm and a love for what you do. In this digital age you can see the photo immediately so you can adjust things there and then to take your image to the next level.

Whilst I'm not adverse to using photoshop or lightroom to edit photographs I cannot understand the fascination to turn an image into something it isn’t, whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with a few adjustments to enhance an image I was taught to try and get it right in camera. Don’t even get me started on those ghastly filter apps … that’s a whole other blog! In a world where the most liked photo on Instagram is that of an egg with 55 million likes, where the most popular hashtag is #love, used 1.8 billion times and where pizza is the most instagrammed food globally, we need to find a way to stand out from the crowd.

Personally I think there is a huge difference between being a photographer and just taking pictures of your daily life.


Blog by Bridget Lapworth


Here are the thoughts of me Mark Pemberton..... I invested in one of the best camera phones going, the Huawei p40 pro, and I was blown away by some of the images it took. I actually went through a period where I was using it far more often than I used my camera. I love my smartphone camera, but it is way too easy to capture a stunning scene in my opinion, there really is no skill involved to be honest, it's just point and shoot. So I have now decided to only use it as a back up, to be a proper photographer, I believe you have to use a camera and learn how to manage light.. The smartphone is killing the art of photography, but it's never going to completely replace the camera in my opinion.



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