Clawing The iPhone Pt. I

When people talk about iPhone photography, the subject of conversation generally centers around app recommendations, platforms in which to best share your photographs, techniques on shooting and even the availability of nifty accessories who’s sole purpose is to make you as close to feeling that the device is as versatile and reminiscent to any other point and shoot camera you could buy.

The advantage the iPhone has over a “regular camera” is not so much technical a one but more a utilitarian one since the likelihood of always having it in your pocket is far greater. Then of course there’s the allure for us to shoot, edit and publish our findings all from the convenience of a mobile workstation that pretty much covers all aspect of communication and that potential alone is what’s addicted me and everyone else to sharing content that we would otherwise neglect to acknowledge.

In this case, I’m not particularly interested in adding to the litany of articles available that talk about what apps people use or the workflow they have for editing their photos. All these are tips and details which are definitely insightful but at this point I don’t have anything novel to add to a process that should practically be secondary to everything else. This is the part where I would undertake a philosophical stance and tell you that one should “focus more on what they shoot rather than what they’re using to shoot…” which at the risk of sounding trite, is all true.

Anyways, over the period of photographing continuously with the iPhone, I became very perceptive on something which I surprisingly haven’t heard a lot of people talk about. Like anything in photography, a lot of what we do and the tools we use are all subjective so I think it goes without saying that something as having a preference to how you hold your camera kinda topples into the same bucket.

When I visualize a person getting in position to shoot with an iPhone, the posture that comes to mind as far as hands is identical to how Lisa Bettany is seen photographing which is how I assume most people hold the device. This is how my wife does it and I guess it’s what I did at the outset but as I began immersing myself more into candid street photography predominantly do more of with with iPhone, I could tell you that holding it this way is not the most low-profile approach for me because it’s the straight forward equivalence of standing aimlessly with a Frommer’s guide book in the middle of Time Square. I don’t want to be noticed but I still want to feel comfortable using something that’s valuable to me.

Photograph of how I hold the iPhone when shooting

This is how I clench the iPhone in my hands when photographing on the streets. Despite a friend’s remark, I don’t think it’s unusual. I refer to it now as “clawing the iPhone” because that’s how my friend Victor described it when he pointed out the odd similarity to a bird gripping on to a twig or something. I use my thumb to press on the shutter button and it’s as easy as that.

All the shooting happens with one hand and as comfortable as I’ve become using it this way, I have the inevitable fear of accidentally dropping the phone one day. It’s hasn’t happen yet. The ideal situation would be to continue shooting the way I do while having a piece of mind in that my iPhone wouldn’t randomly slip from my claw grip because my fingers would be inserted into 4 loops that would coincide with the placement of my fingers.

These 4 plastic or silicone loops would be an integral built-in feature of an iPhone case that caters specifically to people who like me, have found comfort in holding the iPhone the way I have while photographing with it. I hope it’s not difficult to envision what I’m describing. Perhaps a drawing would have been more helpful? I’ll defenitely have a follow up to this post later on and by that time I will have found someone to sketch up a better representation of what I’ve just described.

What’s Already Out There

There’s a few iPhone accessories that are meant to replicate the handle of a “real camera”. I’ve never experimented with any of them since none really solve the problem of securing the phone the way I would want it in my hands.

The POPA and the Shutter Grip come pretty close but utilizing these accessories requires one to remove your iPhone case which I know not everyone uses in the first place but I unequivocally do.

So what’s my solution to this frivolous problem? I’m not sure yet. The answer should be obvious but it’s the execution that requires some thinking so until then, I’ll continue to “claw” the iPhone they way I’ve already grown accustom to. I love the idea of developing an iPhone case that is custom made for me. I’m not looking to mass produce anything. Right not everything is just ideas.