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The Camera in Your Pocket

When your go-to camera is your phone, you are always prepared for action.

Cameras in cellphones have changed how we experience the world. From documenting good times with friends to capturing the sights and sounds of a thunderstorm, our reliance on our cellphones means that there is always a camera on hand.

Power at Your Fingertips

Each new generation of cell phones improves the quality of the cameras on-board and the size of the images and videos. A few years ago, cameras were seen as unnecessary add-ons to a functional device. Now, our phones are expected to be able to be used for videoconferencing with front and rear-facing cameras. There are accessories available for our iPhones that take your photography to pro-level with lenses, tripods and flashes.  

Websites and newscasts carry photos and video footage from citizen journalists. Whether CNN's iReport or photos uploaded to your neighborhood Patch, people everywhere can bring stories to the larger community that would have otherwise been just memories of those that were there. These photos and videos are often taken from our cellphones and shared with apps that require a few keystrokes to upload.

Apps for Practically Everything

You can search through photos at all of the photosharing sites such as Instagram, Flickr or Photobucket or use an aggregator site such as Outpic which you can search by topic or location, for example "Olympics", to see all sorts of amateur photos. The people you follow on Twitter bring you updates from the events in their lives so you can see what what LeBron James saw as he walked the streets of London or with whom Steve Martin is performing.

Of course, photos or videos can show things that some would prefer you not see. For example, this performer at the 2012 Olympic games opening ceremonies surely was not expected to share video of his very particular view of the event. Most courthouses prohibit cameras or cameraphones to protect the privacy of those involved as do many federal buildings. In our region, many workers cannot have cellphones with cameras which makes phone shopping difficult. For Verizon, the Casio G-Zone is an option as are non-camera Blackberry models at Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T as well.

Guard Your Privacy

You need to consider the privacy of your photos and the privacy of your friends' in your photos when posting them to these sites. The technology for facial recognition and the uses of shared photos is moving faster than our ability to think through the implications of how those photos we so happily upload and share will be used now and in the future. Be sure to read through the terms of service on privacy for the services you use and know how to lock-down your photos on social media sites such as Facebook.

The ubiquity of cameraphones has changed our expectations on how we experience events. There is a common phrase "pics or it didn't happen" that seems to pop-up whenever someone tells a story of a chance encounter with a celebrity. Now there is a camera in everyone's hand as soon as something remarkable happens and we can all share in the experience. Just be sure to be camera-ready at all times, because with a camera always at hand, we each could be the subject of the next viral video.

Rachel Hatzipanagos August 01, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Ideally we'd all have great cameras with us all the time, but I get paranoid lugging my DSLR around. My 3g iPhone is much less attention grabbing.
William R. Snyder August 01, 2012 at 03:25 PM
There are very small Nkon cameras in their "Coolpix" line that take excellent quality photos that you can put in your pockedt or purse that are not the least bit attention grabbing. These cameras cost less than a cell phone with all the gadgetry.
Sherri Isbister August 01, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I don't agree the new iPhone 4S has a great camera and I have seen really good photos from it. I was impressed with my son's phone. I am into photography and understand where you are coming from but as Jean said most people are not into "real" photography anyway. Young people today are not interested in carrying around a phone and a camera and they are happy with the quality of the pics they get.
Jean Westcott August 01, 2012 at 04:51 PM
My general advice is when you are going to an event like a wedding/graduation or when you are going out with the intention of getting great photos definitely consider a non-cellphone camera. But the quality of phone cameras is getting to the point where those who simply point-and-shoot are choosing to leave the camera behind. To me it is analogous to music. LPs and analog recording techniques produce a richer sound but most people are happy enough with low-sample rate music stored on their iPods listened to with cheap little speakers. At some point, people will go for convenience and it really is changing how many previously unphotographed moments are now available to share far and wide. Now, if only people would stop using ridiculous Instagram effects on EVERY photo they take!
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