Confession: I am the mom at Disneyland with the overly-heavy camera bag and a 70-200 on a gripped 5D Mark III. In fact, I usually bring my whole kit to the hotel and each day we go to the park I will take a 24-70 and then one other lens that rotates by day and I will have a theme day. 70-200 for close ups on the rides of the kids. Macro for park details. 16-35 for the wide, storytelling shots.
I fully admit that I have a slight problem.
After I got all my kids in the car and took the picture, the lady behind me started giving me directions for how she wanted her kids posed in the car, thinking I was one of the photographers that worked at Disneyland. Kind of a fair assumption since I had my lanyard for our tickets around my neck and a stupid amount of gear for a tourist.
But I'll admit I get a thrill from capturing even the smallest moments forever in the best format I can.
I bet there are a lot of people reading the blog who can completely sympathize. I never even used a cell phone camera until about 3 years ago. I didn't do it often for a long time. I felt like it just was not good enough. But I have 7 kids. And so I would take little snaps here and there. (Usually when I didn't have my big SLR, and when I reasoned with myself that the action was happening so fast and the light was so bad, my big camera would not have made much difference anyway.) I got the memories, and told myself it was ok. But I still didn't like it.
Then, as I have mentioned before, I had my son Henry and he was in the NICU for almost a month. I honestly felt so emotionally and physically exhausted that I really only had the energy to take snaps of him with my cell phone. I felt so awful. Every day I would load my big camera into my bag, but every day it stayed in the bag. The pain and frustration and exhaustion just made it so hard for me to do what I WANTED to do. So I came home from my son's first month of life with a cell phone full of pictures. And a scant handful on my big camera.
So I set about figuring out what to do to make these photos look as good as I could. I also had to let go of the guilt. I knew I had done the best I could do, and those photos were better than nothing. So I figured out how to get my photos off of my phone.
A lot of my photos were uploaded to Instagram to share with family and friends. So, if you want to download your Instagram photos, you can! It is so easy. Just go to Instaport.me and it will compile your entire Instagram account (or selections of it) and download it as a zipped file for you. The only downside is that there is no exif info attached, so they kind of come up in random order. If you're not an Instagrammer or you want to use the images right off your phone, there are a lot of ways to get them off the phone, but for me, the easiest and most universal is letting Dropbox download my photos for me. I can quickly look through there by date and find photos I am looking for. Either way, getting photos off your phone is important.
Then I imported my photos to Lightroom.
Ha! Yes! Just like a session. I grabbed that Instaport.me zipped file and I unzipped it and uploaded it to Lightroom.
That's my cell phone file in Lightroom!
I was astounded at what a little Basic Warm Workflow 2 (from our Pure Presets 1 collection) did for the phone photos. It cleared up the noise and grain that can happen in cell phone photos. It warmed the cool white balance. It brightened them up. All of those little downsides of using the cell phone were looking much better.
Then we made some album templates in Lightroom. We started off with the idea that the templates would be awesome for wedding photographers. They could easily put wedding albums together as they were waiting for their wedding images to export from Lightroom as jpgs. But, then I got thinking. What if I made some templates that specifically fit cell phone pics? Lots of slots for lots of pics (sometimes multiple angles of the same place, since it is from the cell phone, right?) and smaller slots so the imperfections of the phone files would not be as obvious. That lead to the InstaPure albums. And really, even if we never sold even one of these, they were worth it to me. I got all of my photos of my sweet little Henry off of my phone and into an actual printed photo album. His NICU journey is beautifully bound in leather and his pictures are perfect.
Here is just a sampling of the images I saved from my phone. A whole story just waiting to be claimed. It gave me a greater appreciation for having a camera on me at all times. I still love to use my DSLR whenever I can but I know that I can use my phone and tell a story that is worth telling. If that is all I have, it is worth a lot. I challenge each of you to find the stories you have locked up in your phone and save them for future generations.