Many fine art photographers have had the cringe-inducing experience of being approached in the field by a stranger and told with great enthusiasm, "Oh, I'm a photographer too!" This exclamation was often followed by the stranger producing a digital point-and-shoot or SLR never taken off "auto" and showing a string of pedestrian snapshots in an attempt to demonstrate their point. This began happening with startling regularity as 35mm SLR cameras became popular in the consumer market. I admit that, in part, I moved from 35mm photography to medium format largely because NO ONE ever looked at my four-and-a-half-pounds-without-the-finder-or-the-lens Pentax 67 and thought for a moment that their Canon Rebel was roughly equivalent.
I've gradually come to accept the fact that digital photography is here to stay and has some interesting qualities that are worth exploration/exploitation. I have only recently purchased my first digital SLR (a Nikon--old habits die hard) and am gradually becoming comfortable with it, producing images that look simply like "my" work. Digital cameras are, after all, simply tools; ultimately it is the intent, skill, creativity and vision of the user that distinguishes artist from hobbyist from dweeb-with-a-camera. Interestingly enough, my favorite digital camera these days started out as my least-favorite digital camera--I'm talking about the camera on my iPhone.
Before I got the iPhone, I was using a Samsung Blackjack which had a tremendous camera with optical zoom and a host of in-camera adjustment options. It took wonderful images, so when I fired up the camera on my iPhone and found it largely optionless, with no zoom and no adjustment settings, I was extremely disappointed. But I've recently been exploring photo apps for the iPhone, and my disappointment has been largely erased by fascination.
Here are a few of my favorite Apps:
There are, of course, literally HUNDREDS of camera apps out there; I've already identified more I would love to play with. I'm coming to consider my iPhone images their own art form. If you're an iPhone user, I'd love to hear from you about your favorite camera apps; if you've got the Droid or another App-based phone, let's hear what kind of creative chops you've been able to discover! Meanwhile, you can check out some more fun App-based images on Facebook.