Proving that the best camera is the one you have with you, an iPhone 4 was all Joshua Brown needed to make his book, Italy, a remarkably beautiful portfolio of images from a trip he took earlier this year. The photographs are so striking that viewers probably assume they were taken with a DSLR. And while Brown, who had been hired to shoot a wedding in Florence, had his Canon EOS 5D Mark II with him, he decided not to haul around a heavy camera and a bunch of lenses while exploring the country.
The first two days of Brown’s 11-day trip were spent shooting the wedding. Afterward, he and his assistant traveled through southern Italy, getting lost in small Tuscan villages before making their way to Rome and Naples and driving down the Amalfi Coast.
"I just didn’t want to carry a camera bag around," he explains. "I wanted to enjoy my vacation, and the iPhone 4 is really the first camera phone where I felt like the quality was high enough for taking those kinds of pictures. The trade-off was that I ended up shooting a lot more because the camera was always on me, and I didn’t get caught up in shooting."
Taking a photograph comes a lot more naturally when you just pull a phone out of your pocket and shoot. Instead of previsualizing stuff I wanted, I could just have an immediate reaction.
With the iPhone’s 5-megapixel resolution, Brown knew he wouldn’t be able to create poster-sized prints, but his goal was not to blow up the pictures. The camera had a high enough resolution to produce 4×6- or 5×7-inch prints, and that’s all he was looking to do.
Brown was aware—and took advantage—of just how unobtrusive he was with such a small camera. One of his favorite shots is of an older gentleman working away in a shop while smoking a cigar. If Brown had used his DSLR, the man obviously would have known that his photograph was being taken, and that would have changed the whole shot.
"This really allowed me to go back to my photojournalism roots and be a fly on the wall," says Brown. "Taking a photograph comes a lot more naturally when you just pull a phone out of your pocket and shoot. Instead of previsualizing stuff I wanted, I could just have an immediate reaction."