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.)
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.