Photography has evolved over the decades, spurred by technological developments and introduction of new medium. In recent years, more and more people have gotten access to photography thru their mobile phones, opening up an all-new category that we have all come to appreciate : phone photography. With each new smartphone model, each released processing app, each innovative camera feature, phone photography - and photography overall - has become bigger than ever. Billions of images have been uploaded on the internet, majority of which have come from mobile phones. While it can be argued that phone photography still doesn't compare to the quality of digital or film images, it is undeniable that phone cameras could more than hold its own in capturing beautiful moments.
Focus Bulacan has a slew of heavy phone shooters, and this month's featured member is one of them. Meet Eugene Figueroa, the club's Finance Officer and perhaps the foremost phone shooter among the group. His countless hours of doing field work for the Department of Public Works and Highways has taken him to many places, and armed with his cellular phone, he takes advantage of the interesting scenes he encounters while on the job. The result is a wonderful collection of phone images that are definitely feature-worthy.
We asked Jinn some questions about his affection for phone photography :
Q : Let’s start by talking about how you got started with photography. Tell us your story.
Jinn : My interest in photography started when I was still a kid. I was twelve years old when I started taking photographs with a Canon point-and-shoot camera which was handed down to me by my uncle. As years went by my interest in photography grew stronger so that's when I told myself that I'm going to get myself my own SLR camera someday when I'm already earning my own money.
Q : We noticed that lately, you seem to shoot more with your phone. What’s the main reason?
J : Basically, the nature of my job with the DPWH has a lot to do with it. I travel a lot, surveying roads and bridges and I can't carry my DSLR with me all the time so I use the next best thing—my cellphone's camera.
Q : Which one feature of mobile phones do you want DSLRs to have?
J : That feature when you can immediately edit, upload and share your photographs instantly.
Q : On the other hand, what’s a DSLR advantage you wish mobile phones will have in the future?
J : The manual setting in DSLR wherein you can control the exposure of each frame and how the image ultimately looks by adjusting the setting of the ISO, aperture and shutter speed.
Q : What genre or subjects do you like shooting most?
J : I love shooting landscapes, combat and still life.
Q : Do you have a specific phone camera photo that’s your most favorite?
J : I have a lot of favorites but the photo of the Plaridel-Pulilan Bridge is on the top of my list.
Q : Any plans of selling your DSLR yet?
J : Never thought of that. Hahaha!
Q : How does your work affect your photography? Does work make it harder for you to shoot, or does it give you more opportunities to go places and shoot?
J : My work actually gives me more opportunities to shoot because of the travel, the disadvantage is that it's not safe and convenient to carry my gear around because I do a lot of walking and sometimes, I have to go under the bridges to check its foundation. That's why I'm grateful for mobile phone cameras, especially that of the iPhone.
Q : What are your favorite photo-editing apps? And why?
J : I use Snapseed all the time. Now, I'm glad that aside from filters, we can now manually edit photos on Instagram.
Q : In your years of shooting, what lessons could you share?
J : It's been 8 years since I bought my very first dslr, the Nikon d40... Eight years, and yet I believe I still have a lot to learn. If I could impart one lesson which I learned through all those years, that would be not to rely on photoshop to compensate what you missed or neglected while taking the photograph, and that means knowing your exposure triangle by heart. Don't allow yourself to get used to the idea that you can always count on photoshop. Remember that before you call yourself a professional... because a professional is someone who knows what is right, what is wrong, and how to fix the problem.
A selection of Jinn's top iPhone shots (click on thumbnails to view larger) :
Q : What is it like to be Focus Bulacan’s finance committee officer?
J : It's a big responsibility and a privilege at the same time. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the trust and confidence that the whole group has given me.
Q : Any message for Focus members?
J : Thank you guys for the past wonderful year and the friendship, here's hoping for more fruitful and creative years with you...keep on shooting and be ready with your annual membership fee! Cheers! Hahaha!
Photography, in its simplest definition, is the use of a camera to manipulate light in order to create images. It really doesn't matter which kind of camera we use. As long as we know how to use it to produce interesting images, others will take notice. Jinn Figueroa's phone photos are a prime example.
As professional and iPhone photographer Chase Jarvis said, "The best camera is the one that's with you."
Every month, we have a feature on our members, our photography idols, and other photography issues we feel deserve a heads-up.