Glimpse: Stop, Look…See

Photography isn't just about capturing images. Have a peek inside our contemplative photography feature from the October issue of Mindful magazine. 

Photographs by Terry Bell

We wanted to tackle contemplative photography in the October issue, with Andy Karr suggesting three ways to explore the experience of looking itself. We wanted to emphasize that photography isn’t just about capturing images and having all the right gear. Photographer Terry Bell brought that to the table with his accompanying shots, almost all of them taken on his iPhone.

“If you tell me I’ve got to carry a camera bag and lenses and all that stuff, I bow out of that a lot,” says Bell. “So that’s really where the iPhone became so big for me.”

Bell has three tips for people looking to snap better photos with their iPhone. He’s working with an iPhone 4, so some of the tips might not apply to newer phones.

1. Find a good camera app for your phone

“The native camera app on the phone isn’t very good because it doesn’t give you control over focus and how you expose the picture,” says Bell. He suggests the VSCO Cam (available for free at the iTune store) because it gives you control over where you want to focus the camera and the level of exposure.

2. Get familiar with the iPhone’s strengths and weaknesses

“They’re pretty good for what they are but they’re not that great cameras,” says Bell, laughing. For instance, the iPhone is not going to be able to capture a dusky scene or a big party on a night cruise.

“They love lots of light, so if you can feed them lots of light, they get really, really happy,” says Bell. “The darker it gets, the worse the performance.”

Bell also notes that the iPhone is good for close-up shots, such as taking pictures of flowers or a really tight shot of someone’s face.

3. Don’t forget the darkroom 

A lot of the time, you’ll spy a great photo, take the shot, and when you come home, the photo doesn’t look nearly the way you imagined it would. Bell says a little post-photo finessing helps bring the image in line with what you saw the first moment you decided to take the picture. Photo editing tools are available for the iPhone, and Bell suggests Snapseed (available for free at the iTunes store).

For more than just this Glimpse: