Most clichés contain a grain of truth, which is why they get repeated until they become clichés. I used to cringe on being told that the best camera was the one you were carrying. But recently I had to eat humble pie.
I was visiting a friend in Woodlands, on the outskirts of Lusaka. From the middle of town, it’s a good hour’s walk along Independence Avenue. Laid out by the colonial government, with two lanes for traffic each way, the road’s best feature is its wide central reservation. Mature Flamboyant trees provide shade and there’s a pavement in the middle.
Leaving home in a rush, I didn’t take a camera – I was playing the photographer’s version of Russian roulette. Often I draw a blank, but this time I cursed myself. Ahead of me, a young man emerged from a side road, carrying a tin bath on his back.
Before moving to Zambia I’d always shot on film, so for me a phone camera isn’t a natural choice. In my frustration, I forgot that I had a camera — a modest and rather old Samsung Galaxy S3 GT I9300 — in my pocket. But I was lucky that day. The man and I were heading the same way and he was still in front of me when I came to my senses.
I had time to take two pictures with my phone, before we went our separate ways. At only 4 megabytes each, the files are small, but they’re much better than nothing. I’m going to have one of the pictures printed and framed, to remind me not to play Russian roulette.
What do you think about mobile phone photography? Have you been converted or do you think it will always be second best?