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Does having an iPhone make you a photographer?

If you're reading this, it's likely that you fall into one of two camps. You either have a smart phone, or, you're my mom. Nearly everyone around me has a smart phone of some sort, and thus, they have a camera in their pocket at all times. So, does having an iPhone make you a photographer?

Well, yes. Do you love taking photos of your friends, kids, sunsets, meals, trips to the beach and selfies in front of cool stuff? Of course, we all do. So, I'd consider you a photographer with the definition that you are someone who takes photographs. I'd think this is very similar to singing. Are you a singer because you have the ability to sing? Well, again, yes. We enjoy singing in the car when our favorite songs come on, at concerts, at church or in the shower. Personally, I enjoy singing...if I'm by myself. I am NOT good at singing, which is another blog post entirely.

The photo above is another example. I shot it at the Lennon Wall in Prague. The wall has been an iconic piece of Prague since the 1980s. The wall is filled with images of John Lennon and the Beatles and where hundreds of people every day come to take pictures. Dozens of them will bring spray paint and add their contributions to the wall. So, because they have added paint to this wall, does that make them a graffiti artist or street artist of Banksy-worthy acclaim? Of course not.

Increased quality in smart phones has completely revolutionized the face of photography. The quality of photos I can take with my iPhone is lightyears better than the photos I could take with my first digital camera. Instagram would never be possible without these phones in our pockets and America's Funniest Home Videos would probably still be receiving VHS tapes and DVDs of people's dumbest moments caught on film.

The difference between an iPhone photographer and a hobbyist or professional photographer is passion. I'm a photographer because I feel like it's part of my soul. It's something I have to do. Not only do I have to photograph things, but I also feel like I have to encourage other people to be photographing things, too.

Regardless of the device, I believe that the heart is what makes the photographer a photographer. An amateur can buy a $7000 Leica. A professional can use a homemade pinhole camera. The complexity is not what matters. The purpose is what matters. The source of joy is what matters. 

So, you have the ability to take photographs. Congrats. On a technicality, you're a photographer. But, you have an incredible amount of potential now. Find your fire. Find your purpose. Start exploring your voice. Become a photographer.

 

Jason Williamson