Now that mobile photography is officially a thing, we see photographers ditch their DSLRs in favor of smartphone cameras. To find out about the possibilities and limitations of mobile photography, as well as why people switch to it in the first place, we spoke with Vasily Greshnev, a creative executive and staunch mobile photography advocate.
How it all began
I’ve been into photography since I was 10, and of course my approach to it has been changing over the years. You grow up and some events in life shape your views, so at a certain point I gave up digital photography altogether and moved to mobile. At the start of my photography journey I was curious about the technical side of it - I wanted to figure out how a camera works, know the tricks of film photography and film developing. I used to have a Zorki-4 camera at the time and it was more about the process. Once I started seeing progress, my focus shifted to what’s in the picture: I was always carrying a camera with me and would shoot whatever I could, but was particularly into lifestyle, landscapes, and urban. Buying my first DSLR camera in 2009 was a serious step forward: it gave me more options, and I always carried that heavy camera with me.
How I stopped worrying and loved the mobile
At a certain point I started treating photography more like art, and realized the importance of capturing the right moment and translating emotions. So three years ago I switched to a Fuji system camera, because a huge expensive DSLR isn’t that vital for lifestyle and landscapes, if you don’t plan on printing out you works for billboards. That camera was great, but it still had interchangeable lenses and needed to be carried in a backpack. Let’s confess it - capturing the right moment is pretty hard if you have to fiddle with the backpack for some time before taking out your camera. I decided I needed something I could easily carry in my hand, coincidentally phones with a picture feature could already make pretty decent shots for that period in time - it was already something you could already work with. I started out by making black and white shots, because back then smartphone cameras weren’t as advanced as they are now, and they came out pretty good.
Perks of mobile photography
While you’re in the moment you want to shoot, you don’t want to waste time on taking the camera out of your bag. Because the next thing you know - the moment's dissolved, conditions have changed, people have gone, but with a phone camera you’re mere two clicks away from your perfect shot and this is much more important for me than image quality. Personally I think it’s not the quality that makes a shot great: you can make a great image with a compact camera, and you can miss the right shot while reaching for a fancy DSLR. Of course if you’re going to shoot an event, you probably have a plan of some sort and your camera will always be in your hands, but that’s a different story. In most cases creative ideas appear out of nowhere and you have to get the camera ready in a couple of seconds. Today, to make those spontaneous shots, I use my Samsung Galaxy S7.
These days I’m really interested in people photography - here you can make something pretty great with a smartphone camera, shadow portraits for example. Shooting portraits usually requires preparation and you get to spend time with a person, so I plan to bring my system camera to the next shooting and use it along with the smartphone. And there’s one thing smartphone cameras are still missing, it’s that very soft blurred background in a portrait you can achieve only with a system camera or DSLR. Even the latest iPhone with artificial background blurring does not give the effect the lense does.
All my photos are on Instagram, I’m particularly satisfied with my latest works and think something might come out of them, but I don't feel like doing any exhibitions for now. Once you decide to showcase your work, you put ego into it. While I at the moment would like to distance myself from my works. If I shoot a model, I send those photos to her first - of course I can give some editing advice, but she’s free to do whatever she wants. Because I shoot mostly for her, rather than for myself. I know I see people in a certain way and would like to share my vision with people I shoot - give them a chance to look at themselves from a different perspective.
For more photography by Vasily Greshnev, follow his Instagram