Cover Stories
Cell Phone Images by the Pros
By Lynne Eodice
Mar 17, 2011, 16:01

Having just one button frees us to concentrate on capturing the moment! As the megapixels and quality increases, people are discovering how much fun it is to shoot pictures with cell phones.

You can quickly and easily download apps for more creativity, email your pictures to friends and family, or upload the images to Facebook and Twitter. Although the professional photographers in this story are known for their images taken with more sophisticated gear, read on to discover how they have incorporated cell phone photography into their professional arsenal.
© Chase Jarvis

Chase Jarvis: All About Stories & Moments
This professional Nikon shooter has had an iPhone with him constantly since they were first available in 2007. "With the first version of the iPhone, I thought that it had a very accessible camera," Jarvis comments. He began using it as a visual journal to record life in general. "And then at some point, I realized I was having so much fun shooting with it," he says. As a top-tier professional photographer who counts Nike, Reebok, Mountain Dew, and Apple among his clients, Jarvis has the opportunity to shoot with some of the best equipment in the world (his pro camera is a Nikon D3s) in pretty amazing locations. "And then I became super-engaged with this two-megapixel camera," he says. "I was quickly reminded that images aren't all about megapixels, dynamic range and all the technical stuff - they're about stories and moments."
© Chase Jarvis

His cell phone camera reminded him of all the core reasons why we shoot pictures, he says. "Also, it's just one button - and I've always got it with me." Jarvis has taken a picture with the iPhone every day since he first got it. And because he wanted to share this joy, he began sharing these images on a daily basis on his website. Before long, he recalls, "I was getting correspondence every day from over 90 countries, and this communication came from people ranging in age from very young to the very mature." The first gallery of iPhone pictures that he posted on his website was viewed over two million times in 72 hours. He also offers viewers the chance to post their images on his site. As a professional photographer, he travels 150,000 miles a year, and has taken thousands of iPhone images around the world. Eventually, Jarvis developed an iPhone photo app that allows users to easily upload to Facebook and Twitter, and had the first book published about cell phone photography, aptly entitled "The Best Camera is the One That's With You."

He encourages everyone to shoot cell phone images, regardless of whether it's a Treo, Blackberry, Droid, or any other brand. Almost everyone has a cell phone with a camera. Jarvis says he's excited about developing more camera apps in the future. This global community is developing at a great speed, he observes. More books on the topic are being planned as well. "I really enjoy talking about why we take pictures," he concludes. "There's enough material out there on tech stuff."

See more of Chase Jarvis' work on and on
© Shawn Rocco

Shawn Rocco: Capturing the Essence of a Scene
As a staff photographer for the News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, Rocco discovered how creative cell phone images could be when he was on assignment in 2007. "It was kind of a fluke," he recalls. He shoots both stills and video of events for the News & Observer, and this assignment became a bit much, so he stepped into another room to relax for a minute. "As it was, this red room had a lamp on a table that made for a nice still life. I snapped a couple of pictures with my Nikon," he says. "But then, I decided to go with my cell phone; I don't know why." To his surprise, the photos looked pretty good. "After I got back from the assignment and looked at the images on my computer, I noticed that the cell phone images seemed to have a lot more feeling than those shot with my Nikon."
© Shawn Rocco

He says that his Motorola E815 images captured the essence of the room better than those taken with his pro camera. "If I feel this way about these pictures," he wondered, "what else can I do with them?" He started shooting more pictures with his cell phone, and was very pleasantly surprised with the results. Other people started responding to his images in a very positive way as well. "The quality wasn't the best," he says, "but it's definitely good." He adds that his E815 was probably an outdated model when he first got it, and although he shoots with it, he no longer uses it as a phone.

"I just got lucky," Rocco muses. He acquired the Motorola from a friend to use as a backup, and it proved to be a valuable tool. The images have a painterly quality to them. He describes his cell phone camera as another device to capture images. "You can shoot digitally or with film, and some people use Holgas or 4x5 view cameras," he remarks. "The cell phone is just a tool, and it's one that works best for what I'm trying to capture right now."

Rocco has had several gallery showings of his cell phone images, and has printed some of them as large as 24x30 inches. A series of these photos are also featured in a project called Cellular Obscura, which appears on his website. For his work as a photojournalist, he shoots with the Canon 5D Mark II and EOS 1D Mark III. He hasn't had any of his cell phone images published in the newspaper, but sees a bright future ahead for cell phone photography. "We'll definitely see more of it."

See more of Shawn Rocco's images.
© William Neil

© William Neil
William Neill: Revealing the Beauty of Nature
Neill is a landscape photographer and a resident of Yosemite, California, since 1977. His work has been published in American Photo, Vogue, Sunset, Outdoor & Travel, Outdoor Photographer, Outside, Sierra, Camera & Darkroom, and Alaska Airlines magazines.  His images also appear in a variety of books, cards, and calendars, and his limited edition prints have been collected nationally. He's also published several e-books about landscape and nature photography.

He doesn't often shoot with a camera phone, but saw a beautiful scene one morning, which he photographed with his iPhone 3gs. One image was created with three frames stitched together in Photomerge in Photoshop CS5 from three vertical iPhone images. "This final result was pre-visualized to fit the subject and for increased resolution," he says. Neill's professional camera is a Canon 1Ds Mark III.

See more of William Neill's work.
© Lee Morris

Lee Morris: Fashion Cell Phone Images
A successful wedding photographer who also does some commercial work, Morris created a website called with Patrick Hall, another wedding photographer. "The website is devoted to showing behind-the-scenes footage of photographers working," he explains. "These videos are informative and fun to watch at the same time." He and his crew travel around the country to shoot video for this site, and they post videos from other photographers as well.
© Lee Morris

In June 2010, he did an entire fashion photo shoot using his iPhone 3gs with studio lighting, and recorded it for Fstoppers. "We did the iPhone video when we had some down time, and it's become our most popular one." He posted the images online and didn't tell anyone at first that they were taken with a cell phone. According to Morris, he had to laugh when some people claimed that they were the best images he had ever taken. When asked why he did a fashion photo shoot with a cell phone, Morris remarks, "We wanted to get the word out about what Fstoppers was all about, and wanted to do something that was fun to watch, but would still attract a large audience." He says that he's taken other photos with his cell phone before, but none for commercial use. "Although when you bring the files down to web size, the images look great," he points out.

Morris usually uses Nikon D300s, D700 and D200 cameras for wedding photography, and says that he wouldn't seriously use a cell phone camera for his business. Nonetheless, the cell phone fashion shoot video on Fstoppers has drawn a great number of hits. "People can see what their camera phone is capable of," he says.

See more of Lee Morris' work at and at

In Conclusion
With cell phone apps on the rise, great images appearing on the web, and the quality of cell phones increasing, it looks as though the popularity of cell phone photography will only grow over time!