There’s no doubt that the huge improvements in smart phone camera technology have lead to more people taking up photography. You just need to hop onto Instagram to see that. But as ‘point and shoot’ technology improves are we becoming lazier photographers?
To find out I compared iPhone release dates against Google search trend data for the search ‘photography tips’. Here are the results.
I ignored the release of the original iPhone which had a poor camera and started from the 3G (launched July 2008). As you can see this sparked a big increase in searches for ‘photography tips’.
Interest continued to grow through the release of the iPhone 3Gs (July 2009) and peaked in January 2010 (I guess lots of people got an iPhone 3Gs for Christmas).
The search volume is reasonably stable through the release of the iPhone 4 and 4S, however, when the iPhone 5 drops in September 2012 there is a clear corresponding drop.
As the camera technology improves through each subsequent release, the downward trend continues. The drop is particularly noticeable on the release of the iPhone 6, the 6s, and the most recently released iPhone 7.
What Does This Data Suggest?
Starting with the usual caveat that correlation does not equal causation, the data is compelling.
As the camera technology in our phones improves, we are becoming more reliant on default settings to snap our photos.
Is this a bad thing?
Not necessarily. Modern smart phones can take impressive photos and the auto settings are clearly able to effectively capture a scene. At the end of the day knowing how to tweak your shutter speed and aperture doesn’t make you a good photographer.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Because great photography is not just about the technical settings of your camera. It’s also about the composition and framing of your shot. If we’re just pointing our phone at something and clicking away, then even if the camera is accurately capturing the scene, we’re not necessarily getting the best shot we can.
And that’s where (in my opinion) the iPhone may have made us lazy photographers.
Do you agree? Let me know in the comments.