Recently, market researcher NPD Group, published a Imaging Confluence study based on an online survey of 3,300 United States based Internet users, showing that the percentage of images taken with “smartphones” accounts for 27% of all 2011 photos. Last year, the percentage was 17%. Images taken with lower-end point & shoot and pocket camcorders dropped from 52% to 44%.
The report stated most people use their smart phones in a spontaneous, convenient, sharing, and documentary manner. That’s been my experience as well—smart phones cameras are primarily used for Web-based sharing—Facebook, blogs, e-mails, photo-sharing sites. The key with smartphone cameras is the painless and quick ability to share your images with others in almost real time.
The photo Web site, Flickr reported a doubling of mobile uploads to their site this year and uploads from smartphones increased eightfold over the last two years. In June 2011, the iPhone became the most popular camera in the Flickr community.
Even the celebrity photographer, Annie Leibovitz in a recent interview, said that the iPhone is the snapshot camera of today.” The NPD study found that smartphones created a (good-enough) “visual record of people’s lives.”
What numerous reports show is the camera that people use is the camera they have (at hand). While lugging my heavy and large Canon 1DS Mark III at International Quilt Festival (Houston, TX) on assignment for Patchwork Tsushin (with editor, Naomi Ichakawa, a Japanese quilting magazine), I saw lots of attendees with their smartphones photographing the winner’s quits.
However, the NPD study did also state that for important events, these respondents used their cameras instead of their smart phones. Sales increased in 2011 for higher-end cameras (average price: $863).
On an image continuum, snapshots are quickly taken and primarily used in a documentary manner (“here’s what happened”) often little forethought to lighting, exposure, or composition, while “artistic” images have the intent to create (not necessarily document) an image using composition theory, lighting techniques, exposure compensation, and a focused attention on a primary subject or theme. End of the day, both types of images are valuable for different audiences as each are taken with the clear intention of sharing with other people.