It's interesting to note that the largest growth market in digital cameras is in the 35mm arena. This is interesting to me because we now live in an age where we have numerous formats to choose from and many of them are just as capable of making good pictures as the trusty old 35mm format. The reason for this current growth in DSLRs as I understand it, is that many mobile phone users who discover an interest in photography through their phone assume that the next logical progression is to buy a decent DSLR. I can appreciate that if you're new to photography, and don't know much about the new smaller formats, that this appears to be the way to go.
My own personal feeling on the matter is that the DSLR is tied to an historical format and as such, I think there are many smaller lighter systems available that would be just as valid, and much less bulky to use for many projects. In other words, DSLRs are not the only way to go if you want to get into digital photography seriously. In fact, I think the system of choice is often a personal one and the quality of the work is really in the skill of the photographer. Not the gear.
Julian Calverley is known mostly for his advertising work in which he uses an ALPA camera with a state of the art Phase-One digital back. It's heartening to know that Julian is just as creative behind an iPhone as he is behind his ALPA and his terrific book #IPHONEONLY illustrates. It gives credence to his abilities regardless of what format he chooses and also to the stark truth that any camera is good enough, even an iPhone. If you have dreams to create beautiful work, and can't afford a camera system, Julian's book will confirm to you that you can get started right now with your mobile phone and a few inexpensive processing apps.
So what of Julian's book?
Firstly, let's get the physical properties out of the way and then I'll talk about the quality of the work contained within. It's a small book A5 in size and it's printed on very high quality paper via a waterless lithographic printing process. The print quality is really nice and Julian's notes about his images are subtle, allowing the work to speak for itself.
About the work itself. The book mostly contains landscape images of Scotland. It's a place I obviously know well so I had great pleasure in seeing some very different and refreshing views of well known places. But I think for me what stands out is the overall feel of the work. Julian likes dark moody days. There are images where I can almost feel I'm sitting in a car staring out at the landscape as the rain lashes against the windscreen. Growing up in Scotland, I often found my holidays involved a lot of rain and abrupt changes in atmosphere. Because of this I felt a connection with the work immediately.
I also think that the work has a spontaneous feel to it, which says more about the freedom that using a mobile phone has brought to Julian's work than anything about quality - the images are superb. Many of them illustrate that he is comfortable photographing in any kind of weather which is something we could all learn from. If we only make photos when it's dry then we are restricting ourselves to what might be. Sometimes owning expensive equipment makes us scared to use it in inclement weather. It seems a mobile phone can, and is, an extremely liberating way to make photographs.
Julian uses colour in the same sense that I do. He uses his chosen colour palette, which reminds me of rainy autumn days to convey emotion and mood in his work.
I'm surprised that it's taken this long to have a book published that has been made solely with a mobile phone. If you're looking for some inspiration that can help you to shake up what you're doing, or maybe encourage you to stop going down the equipment buying route and focus more on your own development, then this book is a great example that it's the photographer not the gear that is responsible for making art. But the book Is also a thing of small beauty as well. A lovely object to add to your book collection.
It's just so encouraging to see someone embrace his mobile phone and create great images. It's proof to me that the equipment is always a means, a personal choice and the art we create with it solely lies within us.
The standard edition of #IPHONEONLY is available from the Lionhouse Bindery.
And Exclusively to BeyondWords books, a signed edition at £20.