Mobile Photography: From Smart Phone To The Real (Digital) World

September 2, 2014

Mobile photography has been taking over the market over the past couple of years. Everywhere you go, you see people with their smart phones taking photographs with their loved ones, snapping a photograph of their lunch and posting far too many photographs of their pets. While Instagram started with a handful of their own presets for editing images, many of the more popular Instagram photographers edit their photographs outside of the program, using applications such as Snapseed, Afterlight and VSCOcam.

Jessica Silversaga
Photograph by Jessica Silversaga

These dreamy filters have extended far beyond the mobile world. Many professional photographers are using Adobe Lightroom to manage and edit their photographs, and popular applications have taken advantage of this fact. While there are plenty of free Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop presets to download via the internet, popular photo editing application VSCOcam has created their own sets of Lightroom presets that can be purchased to make photo editing on the computer a breeze.

What do you think this means for the future of photography? While it’s hard to debate the stunning, dreamy photographs of VSCO edited photographs, will these photographs become so saturated in the market that there won’t be any photographs edited by hand anymore? Photo editing can be an incredibly tedious process, with professional photographers using dozens of layers in every single image, but the new arrival of professional presets saves hours of time.

Gabriel Flores
Photograph by Gabriel Flores

What About the Future of Film?

It can be hard to deny that film is a dying breed, but the new VSCO presets for Lightroom may help expedite that process. VSCO is offering five different versions of presets for both Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom that emulate the look of many different types of old film. For you film buffs out there, you can emulate the look of anything from Polaroid 665 to Kodak Ektar to Fuji Superia, all with the simple click of a button.

Instagram: Amateur or Professional?

There are two sides to the Instagram world. On one end, you have the amateur photographers, using Instagram presets and snapping a photograph of anything they see without worrying about lighting, composition, and other basic aspects of professional quality photographs. On the other end, you have photographers who painstakingly wait for the perfect moment to photograph, spend their time editing their photograph to perfection, and then posting their image to the social media network so that their thousands of followers can see what they have been up to recently.

Instagram is not just about smart phone photography anymore. Many professional photographers use Instagram as a platform to share their own digital images, taken with expensive equipment and then edited through smart phone applications before being posted. The lines between smart phone photography and DSLR photography are becoming increasingly blurred.

The Professionals

While there are plenty of people out there who are using VSCOcam and other popular editing programs to edit and share their images, these people truly blur the line between simple “mobile photography”and beautiful, professional photographs.

IOEGREER (Joe Greer)

Joe Greer

Joe Greer is one of the best examples of Instagram gone professional, as he recently accepted a job with VSCOcam due to the photographs he edited through their program and posted on his popular Instagram page. It’s easy to see how he has over 116k followers, since he consistently posts dreamy images of mountains, lakes, fields of sunflowers and simple, relaxing moments.

MARKCLINTON (Mark Clinton)

Mark Clinton

Mark Clinton posts from the picturesque Sydney, Australia. With over 52k followers, he constantly pleases the eye with photographs of towering waterfalls, winding mountain roads and starry night skies. He has the perfect mix of landscapes and portraits (as well as a handful of photographs in which you can see his own hand), which keeps the stream feeling personal.

WITHHEARTS (Cory Staudacher)

Cory Staudacher

With over 312k followers, it can be hard not to get wrapped into the magical world of Cory Staudacher. The fact that he is a professional photographer stands out at first glance, with perfectly posed portraits in unbelievable landscapes, stunningly shallow depth of field (that could only be the result of posting images that were taken on a DSLR), and a world of fog that makes you wish for the next misty day. His photographs offer a look into the world around Seattle that has nothing to do with busy cities and 9-5 jobs; a world in which everything is possible and the only thing holding you back is yourself.

JAREDCHAMBERS (Jared Chambers)

Jared Chambers

Jared Chambers, posting photographs from Los Angeles, CA, has over 273k followers. With photographs ranging from Todd Hido-esque nightscapes to portraits taken shadow to historic cars, there is something here for everyone to love. He captures both the city and the outskirts of the city with utmost perfection, and his frequent trips out of the country offer a nice break from the California landscape.


Stella Maria Baer

Stella Maria Baer brings an interesting twist to her Instagram, since she is a watercolor artist that frequently posts photographs of finished paintings as well as behind-the-scenes shots and various snippets of her life outside of the studio. From her perfectly constructed large-scale astronomy paintings to her portraits that could be found in a fashion magazine, Stella never bores. At first glance you’ll fall in love with her, her artwork, and her love for the desert.

An interesting fact about many of these “professional” Instagram photographers is that they offer links to their life and work outside of the application. Some have links to blogs where they post high-resolution images of their digital work, while some offer ways to purchase prints of the images that you see on Instagram.

One of the drawbacks of the social media application is that the photographs that are taken and edited strictly on the smart phone are not nearly as high quality as those you can get from your DSLR. By taking photographs with a DSLR, editing them with VSCOcam presets via Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop, and then posting them on Instagram, it offers a seamless way of advertising your photography or other work through Instagram and then offering high-quality images via other websites or networks.