The New Instant Film: Cell Phone Photos Tell Our Story

Laura PetersEquipment, Thoughts and Ideas

When I bring my camera to an event, I am expecting to capture shots that describe that place and that moment in time. Those photos definitely mean a lot to me and I enjoy thinking about that event when I review them later. But it is those moments I don’t expect (that I sometimes forget) which really tell the story of my experiences.

In the past, only the most dedicated photo story tellers would have their camera with them to capture the special moments that happen in between the events in life. When digital cameras first became available to the everyday consumer, we started to think differently about photography.

“I can shoot as many photos as I can fit on this card…and it won’t cost me more than the price of batteries!”

I remember this feeling well. Don’t get me wrong, I love film photography and still shoot on both standard 35mm and other hard-to-find formats. But I was thrilled that I had a few more frames to look through that would better describe the mood I was looking for.

(This is also a different discussion than eliminating photo departments at newspapers in favor of journalists with cell phones. I do not agree with that.)

And yes, I do “chimp” a little bit. (Chimping is when you look at your LCD to see how the shot turned out and maybe say “oooh oooh oohh!”) It’s a rare occasion for me as I prefer to get back to the “Lightroom” to see how things worked. But it’s part of the process of verifying my camera settings.

I also remember those first camera phones. Basically a slightly worse version of my digital camera back then. So I would still tote around both. That has completely changed now. My iPhone is always with me and it contains countless small moments that I want to remember.

Those small moments tell the real story of my life experiences.

Even with all of my favorite photos taken intentionally, it is those random pictures of squirrels in the park, bike ride views, funny things I see on the sidewalk, things I want to remember in the store and chance celebrity encounters that really tell my story.

I’d love it if you could share in the comments how you go about using those small camera photo moments – do you post them online? Do you share them with family and friends and then forget about them? Do you backup the photos in a cloud service to use “someday?” Do you print them out and create a scrapbook?

I do all of those things and I’m looking for your ideas!

This gallery is a few of my favorite cell phone story photos: