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Out and About: Austin on an iPhone

May 7, 2010

Back in March, The New York Times Lens blog featured iPhone photos by Todd Heisler, the excellent photojournalist behind the Times’ 1 in 8 million multimedia series. The post surfaced an interesting question – how much does the camera matter?

Todd had just landed in Russia after an intense post-earthquake stint in Haiti, and the last thing he wanted to do was carry his gear. But he still saw moments worth capturing, so he used ShakeItPhoto, a Polaroid app complete with shaking motion.

To my surprise, many commenters tore into the post, telling Todd his photos would be better with his real camera. That’s true, of course – he has a Pulitzer to prove it.

But it kind of missed the point. For Todd, as for me on this week’s short trip to Austin, using an iPhone shook up routines and encouraged a more spontaneous approach. “The less I worked a situation, the more unconscious the photos became, and ultimately, better,” Todd said in the post.

Food photography can feel like an exercise in OCD, manipulating minutia to create a “perfect” shot. On the iPhone, it’s just point, click, shake – an easygoing approach for an easygoing town.

Could the shots have been better with my real camera? Possibly. But making photos on the fly freed me to enjoy Austin’s awesome food and shimmering light in a new way. It sparked photos I never normally would have taken and, most of all, was a great deal of fun.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Julie permalink
    May 7, 2010 1:29 am

    this is a great collection; i like how they all work together to create a portrait of a city. and its food. :)

  2. May 7, 2010 1:40 am

    Great pictures. so tempted to trade my blackberry in.

  3. May 7, 2010 2:06 am

    I’ve been loving the Hipstamatic app for awhile now but for $.99, have just downloaded ShakeItPhoto too! Austin’s a great food town – when I was in grad school there, we’d go back and forth on Friday nights, one week pizza at the Brick Oven, the next week Indian food at some small but great place on I35N in a strip mall. I’d hit either one of them again, given the chance!

  4. Liz permalink
    May 7, 2010 2:28 am

    Alanna – You’re the fifth person that’s told me about Hipstamatic, I just downloaded it! And yes, Austin is an amazing food town. I had one of the best dinners I’ve had in a good while at a restaurant called Parkside. Best of all, everything’s so unpretentious.

  5. May 7, 2010 6:44 am

    Great photos Liz and it is so worth it to just enjoy life without a big large camera. It sometimes make you look at the world in a fresh way. I’ve gotta check out those apps too!

  6. May 7, 2010 10:54 am

    Hello. I look at a lot of food blogs on my reader and your collection of iphone photos really jumped out at me. Each photo is great on its own but I think it’s the mosaic effect that really makes it stand out. I think I’m getting tired of “beautiful” photos, I like the energy in these.

  7. May 8, 2010 2:09 pm

    Wow, I think these photos are awesome! I’m surprised that people were so critical. :-(

  8. May 8, 2010 4:32 pm

    I smile at your story. It is so true……sometimes, I actually feel burdened by the though of setting up for the perfect shot…..and not enjoying the moments, I love the collage

  9. July 22, 2010 5:30 am

    I think iPhone photos can truly capture the moment more than an actual “camera.” You should see ALL the candid moments I’ve captured of my 14-month old little girl. I think you’re pics are great. We are visiting Austin this October so it makes me even more excited to see your pics.

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