I see a lot of crappy photos these days and I blame the iPhone

(c) Inquisitr, Ltc.

(c) Inquisitr, Ltc.

This post is a bit of a departure from my normal, happy topics of quilting, cooking, genealogy and life lessons.

Today I just need to vent a little bit — and this blog is the perfect place to do it.

In my “real” life, I’m a PR consultant who focuses on employee communications for large companies. I’ve been doing this a while, since employee newsletters were typed up on stencils and printed on a mimeograph (remember these?), then distributed by hand.

I’ve written and produced (more than) my share of newsletters, flyers, magazines and other publications, and with the advent of the internet, quite a few websites, too. I’ve survived the evolution of illustration from an elegant, hand-colored drawing to an onslaught of cheap clip art, illegally reproduced “Dilbert” comics and photos of Willy Wonka with snide captions found on Pinterest.

I could always count on a couple of good photos to help rescue a tired, predictable newsletter story on yet another groundbreaking ceremony or  leadership award. Even when companies stopped hiring professional photographers for internal events, there would always be at least a half-dozen attendees with cameras, snapping photos that they would later submit with the article. And of those amateur submissions, generally 50% would be worth using.

Not these days.

Go to any company event, from an informal happy hour to a company-wide celebration, and try to find a camera. You won’t see one; people don’t use them anymore.

Instead they use their iPhones and Androids, or even, god forbid, their tablet computers, to snap photos.  Excuse me, I should have said, “…to snap crappy photos” because that’s all I see anymore.

Sure, that camera or tablet has an 8 megapixel lens, and programs like Instagram have made it easy to add effects and share images via Facebook or Twitter. Great if you are taking a photo of your dinner, your kid or your pet; not so great if you are trying to take a photo of the CEO presenting at a major industry conference. Most of  those cameras have a crappy flash, you can’t really control the shutter speed and the zoom isn’t very robust.

Which is why I see a lot of photos like this:


And this:


But I can’t place all the blame on the inherent limitations of phone cameras.

I think the bigger problem is that smartphones have made it so easy to take and share photos that the people taking photos have forgotten the basics of a good image. Instead of a crisp photo that tells a story, like this one:

(c) The Wilkes Beacon

(c) The Wilkes Beacon

I receive photos like this:

Any clue what these people are doing?

Any clue what these people are doing?

And this:

Doesn't look like a fun event to me.

Doesn’t look like a fun event to me.

No composition or focal point, blurry, over-exposed or under-exposed — you name it, this is what I get. It’s enough to make me want to track down the person who invented the camera phone and slap him or her silly.

But maybe there’s hope. Maybe, right now, some 12 year-old is sitting in his parent’s basement writing an iPhone app that guides users through the process of taking a good picture…and hits them with an electric zap when they take a crappy one.

I can only hope.



  1. In a similar vein to your post, my top two photographic pet peeves.

    1) Using “instagram” effects thinking you can turn an uninteresting photo interesting
    2) Converting an boring uninspired photo to B&W thinking that it will somehow make it interesting

    1. You are so right, Mark! It’s like people who use every possible font to “jazz up” a printed document. Ugh.
      Thanks for commenting,

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