You’ve come a long way baby: Cell phone photos

It wasn’t so long ago that all cell phone photos were awful, awful, awful — small and low res and absolutely unusable in print or online.

The cameras on cell phones have gotten much bigger and much better, and now they can work in a pinch, especially if that’s the only option available.

On Friday, I covered a court case of two men who were ticketed for not having life vests aboard the boat they used to rescue a deer from an icy river. (You can totally see why this made news.)

Deer rescuers who were ticketed for not having life vests makes the front page.

Cameras aren’t allowed in the courtroom here, so I kept mine out in the car. I thought perhaps I’d have a chance to get pictures after they left the courthouse, although I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to run to the car and get my camera.

It was a little frantic outside after the court hearing. There was only one other  media outlet there — a friendly two-man team from WJZ-TV — but with the two men, their girlfriends and lots of drama and words of frustration tumbling from their mouths, I decided against going back to my car.

So, when one of the men pulled out the bundled life vest he had on his boat, I pulled out my iPhone to take photos. Luckily, we were outside with nice daylight, which is when the phone works best.

It’s not a great shot, of course — a real photographer with a real camera not worrying about scribbling down quotes would have done much better.

Thankfully, my photo was just something a little extra, not the lede art for the paper or online. But it works.

One of the men’s girlfriends whipped out her flip-phone and showed me a picture of the actual rescue. The photo, while low-resolution, clearly shows the men in the boat rowing out to the deer.

She agreed to share the photo with me and she sent a multimedia text message. I was able to save the photo on my phone, and then email it to my work account were it could be sent over to our photo editor.

That was a lot of steps for a not-great photo, but it was a photo that helped tell the story. And that’s cool stuff.

This screenshot from my newspaper's website shows two interesting photos. The top photo was taken with my iPhone. The bottom photo is a cell phone photo that was texted to me.
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