In My Bag, Going Mobile – by Gary He

Gary He

Gary He is the Director of Operations at Insider Images and contributor to Reuters. He has made one or two notable Photoshop mashups in his life.

We’ve all been there, at an event with our legit cameras and our legit lenses and all of a sudden this dude holds up a giant iPad to take a photo. You yell at him to get out of your way. But have you ever thought that maybe you’re the one who is in the way? Yes, you. The pro. Getting in the way. Of the future.


Fig. 0: iPads make great serving trays for drinks and cheese spreads.

Most photographers use relics of a bygone era. DSLRs are paying homage to a time when you needed cameras of a certain size to fit the physical film. But why are they so big and heavy now? To fit all the processors needed? Pro Tip: Open up your DSLR with a Swiss Army Knife and tell me how much of that space contains processors versus how much of it is just a useless metal brick with connectors for superfluous buttons.

worthless parts

Fig. 1: Infallible logic.

What’s in my bag? Smartphones. They don’t make you stand out in a crowd and are extremely lightweight, which means better access and maneuverability to tell your stories. More importantly, they can now produce adequate images for a world that is increasingly about mobile photo viewing. All of those extra pixels and sharpness and stuff from DSLRs are moot on mobile screens. You feel that? A professional photographer has the same value in today’s world as a dude taking a photo with a giant iPad. Deal with it.

The best thing about a smartphone is that it can get images out there to the viewing public way faster than any tethered photographer-editor setup that exists. That’s really all you need to tell great photo stories. Put your DSLRs on Craigslist and check out missed connections while you’re there.

Here’s my kit—you’ll see why I’m right about this:

In My Bag

Fig. 2 What’s in my bag. I mean, pocket.

1)   iPhone 5: The iPhone has a great all-around camera and the largest library of editing and sharing apps available. The Pulitzer Prize winner Damon Winter went into Afghanistan with an iPhone. The legend Ben Lowy covered Hurricane Sandy with one. If these bros are using phones for their photography (TIME magazine cover, I see you!) then why aren’t you?

2)   Nokia 920: The camera and PureView algorithms on this device produce the best low light photography of any smartphone. Great for nighttime reportage! Throw out all of your prime lenses immediately.

3)   Droid DNA: This device has one of the biggest and brightest screens that I have ever seen. You can turn it on and use it as a light panel that can be controlled with your free hand. If you need even more power, the Flashlight app will produce the brightest beam of any of these three phones for off-camera “flash.” So useful.

4)   Duracell Powermat: For those long reportage days, this extremely versatile device can charge all of your smartphones—it has connectors for both iPhone and micro USB charging. It is also endorsed by Jay-Z.

You may think that I’m talking nonsense. But, odds are, your photo business has taken quite a hit in recent years. Why? Because you’re stuck in the past with your not-a-smartphone camera. Business is booming for me, and I’ve been doing phonetography forever. Here is a photo of Fourth of July coverage in 2007—five days after the iPhone 1 came out. BOOM.

iPhone 1

Fig. 3: Trailblazing with the iPhone 1.

Smartphones have come a long way since then. I’ve been hired to photograph many events with phones since then. This is the future. We are in the future. Currently. Standing in it. Namaste. If you aren’t doing it, then some kid out of college with acne scars who is faster with smartphones will take all of your work and you’ll be sitting alone at a bar with your cheap beer wondering where it all went wrong and then you’ll get drunk and get into a fight with a gang of sorority girls and they’ll beat you up and your wife will leave you for the college kid with acne and your children will hate you.

Don’t let this happen to you. Be a part of the future. Give up all of your DSLRs and start using a kit like what’s in my bag.

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One Response to “In My Bag, Going Mobile – by Gary He”

  1. […] Go ahead, read this piece by one Gary He about why he’s getting rid of his DSLRs and is only shooting on…. […]