What are the elements of good photography? How much does the quality of the photograph depend on the equipment that is used to capture it?

Several years ago, I heard about Joel Grey. The award-winning actor turned photographer had just released a publication called  “1.3: Images From My Phone,” in which he uses a 1.3 megapixal camera built into his phone to photograph the urban life surrounding him.

So, are cell phone images just as good as those caught on the most expensive and advanced of DSLR cameras? My initial thought when I saw his work for the first time several years ago was that the fact that he uses such an accessible means of capturing film cheapened the end result. But since coming into this multimedia class, I’ve revisited his work. I asked several of my friends, some photo novices like me, and some more learned in photography since junior high school, what they thought of the matter. While I heard mixed results of how much quality mattered in the outcome of the photograph, like good focusing and lighting techniques to capture the most intimate of details, others conversely said that the photo is about the subject matter and telling a story through the lens, no matter how big or small. I think looking back at his collection, Grey’s images offer a “slice of life” of his surroundings that are effective in offering visual imagery of the stories of others.

Like we talked about in class, photography is so much more than using really good equipment to capture an image. I mean, Grey has made it a point to emphasize that good photography has nothing to do with the type of camera used, but rather, is centered on an inherent artistic skill in seeing the intricacies of the world and capturing that one moment in the most compelling way possible.


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