Four Reasons Using Smart Phone Photography is Not So Smart

Four Reasons Using Smart Phone Photography is Not So Smart
Many smart phones are able to take very high-resolution photos, resulting in impressive detail and color. Mistaking high resolution detail for high quality photographs results in many businesses using less-than-professional photos.

Having a 16-megapixel phone camera makes someone a good photographer as much as having an expensive set of golf clubs makes someone as good a player as Tiger Woods... no correlation exists between the the quality of the tools with the expertise of the user. Phone photos often result in highly detailed images of unfocused faces, chopped off heads or feet, poor composition, dark shadows, and blown-out highlights.

Having a great tool in hand does not automatically provide good results. As a matter of fact, the more technically advanced a tool is, the more it may serve to draw attention to the user's lack of skill in wielding it. Of course, everyone has to start somewhere in the learning process, but your professionally designed business materials should not be the place.

What are the differentiating factors between an amateur photographer and a professional? They really are too numerous to list here, but we will cover a few of the main differences that will help point out the gap between having a good camera and knowing how to take good photos. 

In the list below, we will use an imaginary business that sells classic cars to help illustrate our points.

Point of View

Should a car be shot head on? From the side? From above? From below? How does shooting from these different angles change the look of the car? Shooting from a low angle will include more light, either from the sky or from overhead lighting. Shooting from above will likely include more distracting items on the ground or in the background. Shooting from the side will probably show the photographer's reflection in the image. Will that be a problem, and if so, how is it avoided?  Does your photographer know how to compensate for all these variables? 


Unless lighting is controlled, the chances for details being lost in dark shadows and blown out highlights are very high. Workmanship of details is one of the primary features of classic cars. If the very thing that makes something special is lost because of poor lighting choices, then the whole purpose has been defeated. Knowing how to mitigate poor or inconsistent lighting is crucial to obtaining a good photo.

Overview or Details?

Knowing when to back out for a wide shot that shows the whole car, and knowing when to zoom in on the grill or the spokes of a hubcap is an instinct that can’t really be taught, but is evident in a good photo. What is the the concept being sold, and how do choices like these affect the photo's effectiveness in relation to the marketing message?


Using depth of field to blur backgrounds and bringing certain points into focus is a feature not available on most smart phone cameras, but which is necessary for creating a clear focal point. In this case, the deficit is not due to the photographer's lack of experience, but due to a smart phone not having an option for changing depth of field. But, it doesn't really matter which is lacking when the result is still the same... not getting the shot you wanted.

These are just a few of the situations that a professional photographer knows how to deal with using their tools, their knowledge, and their instinct. Pulling all of these together results in imagery that not only represents the object being photographed, but also highlights its best features. And isn’t that the point of marketing photography?

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