The Hurtful Words…

…That no film photographer wants to hear. 

I showed this photo to someone yesterday (not sayin’ whom…) and the dialogue went a little something like this:

Person: “You took that with your PHONE?”

Me: “Yes.  Why…Don’t you like it?”

Person: “Like it?  It looks better than most of the film stuff you take with that other camera.”

Me: “You do realize, that is extremely hurtful to me…”

Fact is, it is a neat photo, and was certainly easy to achieve: I pointed my phone (which is always with me…) pressed some buttons, applied a filter, and boom.  As I have previously mentioned, my iPhone 6+ is probably all the camera I’ll actually ever need; especially now that it has built-in IS.

However (while this picture will always be in my photo roll…) somehow it just wasn’t as gratifying.  (If you’re here, I KNOW you KNOW what I’m talking about).

Maybe it’s a “pride” thing?

Am I missing nice images because I am too concerned with exposure, manual focus, composition, or development?

Maybe so.

But the ones I do get, I feel much more of a sense of “achievement” and “ownership”.  Maybe that’s the wrong philosophy for the type of images I am trying to capture these days?

Will I regret not having more?

(Don’t worry…I already know the answer).




13 thoughts on “The Hurtful Words…

  1. jkjod says:

    All things being equal, you may as well capture the images in the manner that gives you the most satisfaction or joy. It is a hobby after all 🙂

    • mewanchuk says:

      True fact Jordan…though I’d probably have more money if I just stuck with the ‘ole iPhone.

      (Though maybe not, what with all the upgrading and all…)



    • mewanchuk says:

      Thanks for the comment, Gilles.

      I think, in a way, you are correct: It is easier to get satisfying images from a tool such as the iPhone, but personal “satisfaction” may be a slightly different issue.

      Best regards,

  2. Karim D. Ghantous (@kdghantous) says:

    I love this photo! But it could have been a bit better with a longer focal length… Anyway, I agree that one’s phone is quite a potent camera, but you aren’t going to get really nice enlargements from those files. For personal use, who cares, though? However, I’m not sure I’d shoot a wedding with a phone (actually I did once, but I wasn’t paid that time!).

    • mewanchuk says:

      Thanks Karim…

      Yeah, farther out would have been a bit better, but I actually didn’t set out to create anything stunning.



  3. greg g49 says:

    You seem, of late, to have posted several items in what I would call the “second guessing” category. I don’t mean to reply with a too serious comment to some merely “lop-sided grin” posts, but I will take this moment to re-affirm the merit of what you’ve been doing here for quite a while.

    First, I’m not sure who’s opinion you quote above, but they’re wrong. This is not better than most (or even any, frankly) of the “film stuff” you post. This is cute, because Baby J is cute, but it has no “character” of its own.

    The mistake, conceptually, that almost all iPhone shooters make is that they believe they are recording a moment in time and nothing else, so good enough is all that’s needed. The truth is (IMHO) that what is made when we photograph is an entirely new artifact, based on (hopefully) a special moment in the constantly unfolding stream of events that we’re immersed in. You (way more than me, but me, too) single out that moment for special treatment. We say, “This is worth my time to render it as it’s own new artifact, that will (again, hopefully), in turn, be worth other people’s time to look at. We put something of ourselves into it and, almost always, the degree of our commitment to that process and regard for it matters… a lot.

    Form and materials matter. So keep on with your film and your experiments in depicting your lovely, lively family. The portions of yourself represented in the process you choose to use are evident and (again IMHO) well worth the effort.

    Thump. Thump. OK, I’m down off the soapbox, it’s safe to unfasten your seat belts and move freely around the cabin… 😉

  4. Joe shoots resurrected cameras says:

    I think all the work you’ve done with manual cameras and knowing how to really play with light and exposure has made you an excellent photographer. Perhaps, without having those things at the forefront of your mind this time, you were able to focus entirely on composition, and yeah, the iPhone let you take a picture super fast. Looking at the image up close, everything’s a big mess compared to film, none of the detail and sharpness is there. So then, now that you’ve put in the time with all the manual cameras, it’s time to get a film camera that will help you concentrate on speed over anything else, something that will get completely out of the way and just let you focus on getting the shot 🙂

    • mewanchuk says:


      Thanks very much for the (undeserved) compliment!

      As far as your comment goes, I guess it is possible for me to interpret it in two ways…

      Therefore, I will interpret it both ways, and respond:

      *Suggestion One*: “You should get a camera that does everything, and focus instead on the image at hand”. (Incidentally, this is not necessarily how I think you intended the comment). I have actually given this idea a try (Nikon F6) thinking that if I didn’t have to worry about focus, metering, or film advance, that I could capture the moments I thought I might be missing.

      Funny enough–the idea didn’t exactly pan out. Instead, I was left with images where the camera had missed critical focus, or hadn’t completely read my mind. “Pressing the button” was just not enough…even if the camera was set properly. Hence, it was not the panacea I had hoped it would be, and is no longer in my arsenal.


      *Suggestion Two*: “You should get a camera what will relegate itself to the background, and will just let you focus on the image at hand”. Given what (little) I know about you (and your cameras!) I’m pretty sure this is what you had in mind. I guess that’s really what all of us are looking for–A camera that best supports your particular style of shooting, in as unobtrusive a manner as possible.

      What’s that for you these days??

      All the best,

      • Joe shoots resurrected cameras says:

        Yeah, I dunno, I kind of thought of a camera that gets out of the way and a camera that does everything for you as the same thing, to some degree. I’m sort of going by the Ken Rockwell school of thinking, that the less things on your mind the more you’re focusing on composition, etc. I’m sure the Nikon F6 is a nice camera, but I suppose it’s a bit dated by this time, and autofocus being one of those things that will just keep advancing with DSLR technology. I dunno if that means autofocus should be avoided or not, though I’m not a huge fan of it myself. Maybe I mean shooting with something more akin to a point-and-shoot with high-speed film, I suppose, though I don’t really know how close you can get with one and still be in focus. Whatever technology you can use without having to second-guess what it’s doing for you, and it seems that throwing more technology at the problem is exactly the wrong direction.

        It’s hard to say exactly where that line is sometimes. Recently I shot an Olympus Trip 35 for the first time which is a great little camera for outdoor use and while it was a new experience for me using zone focus, not all that difficult and the images came out pretty well. That camera, once I learned how to get things to work right, did a very good job of getting out of the way. I saw a roll someone had shot at night using pushed Tri-X, it was pretty impressive, just shot the whole roll at 2.8 on 1/40, I wouldn’t have thought it possible! So that’s something I’m thinking about when I think of a camera that does a lot automatically and when you do have to second-guess what it’s doing it’s easy to override. It would probably be a bit hard to use one of those all the time indoors, but it might be doable with something like an Olympus XA or Stylus Epic, something along those lines.

        I’m shooting a roll of Velvia 100 in my Spotmatic and right now it’s pretty snowy, so I’m second-guessing what my meter’s telling me all the time, and bracketing quite a bit too. Even with an all-manual camera where I should know what to expect, since I’ve used that camera since 2010, but I don’t know how my shots are going to come out.

  5. Andy Gemmell says:

    Hi Mark

    I’ve been in New Zealand for a few days and just popped in for an update. This image caught my attention the most since last looking in! iPhone or camera…it doesn’t really matter imo when an image does that.

    I only realised it was an iPhone once I started reading your comments! Of course though if printed, etc it’s tough to do though as it sits now I’ll give it my personal big thumbs up.


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