The art of cell phone photography

Don’t underestimate the strength of cell phone photos

By Roxanne Fleischer

Earlier this fall I was playing a casual game of tennis at McDaniel when I heard an unusual sound coming from the bleachers; a squirrel was trying to rip open a Duncan Donut’s box.

I finally got its paws on a huge chocolate covered doughnut and proceeded to try and lug his treasure back to his home. He must have realized that it was too much to carry, so he resorted to eating the pastry on the spot, and I realized that (alas!) I did not have my camera on me.

So I had to resort to the camera on my cell phone. I tried to sneak as close as possible to the hungry rodent, knowing that my camera phone was not the best quality. The results of my little adventure were not ideal; I scared the squirrel away, causing him to abandon his cherished prize, and I was left with a pixel-ly mess, a sorry excuse for a photo.

If only my camera phone was of better quality, I could have mad millions by selling the picture to Hallmark to put on the front of a greeting card! Well maybe not, but I do wonder whether the cameras on cell phones are worth the hassle.

“Most people just use their cell phone cameras for fun,” said sophomore Lauren Dinatale. “They don’t usually use them artistically.” Dinatale says that she mostly uses her cell phone camera when she doesn’t have a real camera on hand,and still wants to remember the event. She has photos of a McDaniel track team mud fight and a picture of a baby turtle she saw while she was a counselor at a summer camp.

Sue Bloom, art and art history professor at McDaniel College said that there have been shows of cell phone photographs, but the images usually only have one mega pixel, and the resolution is low. “But pixels alone do not a photo make,” she said. “[It] is in the viewer’s eye, always…I would need to judge the image on its own merits. Just as everything ‘painted’ is not a fine art painting.”

The mega pixels on the cameras are undeniably getting better. According to Tim Wright, a retail sales consultant at AT&T Mobility in Westminster, cell phone cameras are constantly improving. “A year ago, 1.3 mega pixels for a cell phone camera was the best. Now, 1.3 is only the average, and cell phones with 2.0 and 3.0 mega pixels are the best,” he said.

Wright said that in Europe, some phones have cameras with 5.0 mega pixels, which is better than my regular camera. Perhaps with a newer, European phone, I could have easily snapped a clear shot of the squirrel eating a Boston cream and would not have felt guilty about chasing him away from his hard earned dinner.

And it does seem that people think camera phones are worth it. Wright says that 80% of the customers at AT&T make their cell phone selections based on the camera quality. The other 20% do not care, or cannot have cameras on their phones because of their professions.