With the proliferation of cell-phone cameras we all now have the resource to produce quality photos with just one click. The Forumist asked professional photographer Ruggero Maramotti to do a little experimenting with the Samsung Galaxy S7 to show just how far cell-phone photography has come now
In the 1960s, photographers’ work was something totally different. Helmut Newton and others started to experiment with a new style, led by what was considered reportage photography. Then, inspired by the art movement of that time, photographers such as Jürgen Teller and Terry Richardson got more interested in the basic meaning of “capturing a moment”. This trend started to be more about representing a lifestyle and capturing what was happening around them.
Being a photographer – someone who shoots to create art or communicate – once required equipment, lenses and add-ons for a lot of money. Nowadays, a photographer’s kit can just be one device that fits in your pocket. Today, photography has become progressively more accessible, and making dramatic improvements to an image that was taken quickly is not only possible, it’s extremely easy.
Almost everyone can be a part of this process and, thanks to the ease of access to the medium, anybody can create magical images. Taking hundreds of photographs costs nothing, so cameras aren’t just for bringing out at birthdays and graduation ceremonies any more, they are for the everyday. The initial snap is just the start.
Born and raised in the northern Italian city of Parma, Maramotti’s career started more than 15 years ago. His introduction to photography came at the age of 13, when he stole his father’s camera, and the punishment was to help him in his dark room. It was there that his love of classic techniques grew.
After living in Milan for a year when he was older, he then relocated to Scandinavia. Today he is located mostly in Sweden, where he makes Stockholm his home. In his work you often see a touch of melancholy and loneliness and realistic depictions of contemporary life. Most of his inspiration comes from painters. “I often seek a way to escape the direct objectivity of photography – painting, music and sculpture don’t have this problem,” says Maramotti. “My photos are intended to express my feelings or mood when I took the image.”
Maramotti carried out the experiment using the newest Samsung phone over the course of one weekend. He visited countryside just outside Stockholm and tested the phone in daylight and in the darkness of night. He also took photographs at his home. “I’m not an expert in matters of phone cameras,” he says, “although I can say, with this one, the capacity of catching the details and the colours are impressive, and it has a very fast lens.”
As he says himself, cell phones are not Maramotti’s usual tool of the trade. “I always work in low ISO. With small-sensor cameras, like those in a phone, it is usually very hard to do this. Since I don’t have control of it, I normally skip using a phone when low-light conditions require high ISO. The S7 has the possibility to manually control the low ISO, so the challenge is only to keep the phone steady [low ISO in low light requires longer exposure]”.
“The manual control of the ISO and the exposure time to me was the biggest news. It doesn’t give full manual control, but it is definitely more than enough. And, as I said before, the fast lens allows you to take pictures in difficult light conditions.”
Any tips for amateur photographers who now only take pictures with their phones?
“I approach a subject with the attitude that I only have one shot when I take a picture, so I make that moment relevant. Maybe I have this approach because I come from the film generation. I concentrate, I compose, I check the controls of the camera – this can be done with the S7 – then I take the image. Obviously if I’m not happy, I take another one but, in general, with the first one, I know if the image is worth saving or if it should be discarded. Another tip that is absolutely driven by personal taste is this – try to have the camera straight and to be parallel with the subject. I consider a cell-phone camera the same tool as an ordinary camera. Phone cameras have wide angles, so I would pay attention to avoiding unwanted things or light in the image.”
Our connection with photography has undeniably changed radically over the past few years. Most of us carry a cell phone in our pockets, so everyone can be a photographer, but this doesn’t always mean you are going to be a great photographer. You have the tool now – see what you can do with it.
All images taken with SAMSUNG GALAXY S7
Words by Fredrik Wallin
Photography by Ruggero Maramotti
Special thanks to Samsung