10 Years of iPhone

Earlier this month, I realized June 29 would mark the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone and began diving into the images I’ve shot with iPhone over the years. As I glanced through the archive, I realized what an amazing journey the last 10 years has been and thought I’d share some of the highlights with you.

Disclaimer: There’s a TON of content here across the board — this rabbit hole of behind-the-scenes and memories was deep, but I know many of you shared these memories over the years so I hope you find most of it interesting. :-)


 

June 29, 2007: iPhone

 

I can still remember the morning of June 29, 2007. I was living in NYC, working at an ad agency, McCann-Erickson. Though I had been following the release of the iPhone and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one, I knew I couldn’t spend the day in line waiting as I had responsibilities at work.

I arrived at my office, however, and my very cool boss looked at me and said, “Austin, what are you doing here?” I was a little confused as it was a standard work day and I was on time. “What do you mean?” I said.  She responded, “It’s iPhone day. You’ve been talking about this for months! Get outta here and go get in line!” I got a big smile on my face, said thanks, and bolted straight to the Fifth Avenue store at about 10AM.

I carried a Leica D-LUX 3 at the time (still love that thing) and shot a few very shaky clips throughout the day and cut them into this quick piece. Enjoy:

 

Here’s a screenshot of Apple’s website later that night — can you spot me in the shot?

 

Sadly, after a bit of searching, I couldn’t find the very first images I shot with my original iPhone, but I do have this Facebook profile photo, posted June 29, 2007. This could very well be the first image I ever shot with iPhone.

iphone_review_mann.jpg

 

As an aspiring pro with a chunk of pro gear, I really didn’t consider the camera on the original iPhone seriously, and the gallery below is most of the pictures I took with my iPhone in the entire year. I even told a few people I thought it was silly to have a camera on your phone. Why in the world would I want that? I pride myself a bit on being ahead of the curve, but boy was I wrong on this one.

 


July 11, 2008: iPhone 3G

 

This year caught me off guard — I found only one image I shot with iPhone 3G. I’m not sure if I lost my iPhone 3G with all the pictures or what, but I do know I bought the Canon 1DS Mark III that year (my first major pro camera purchase), and everything I found was shot with that.

The one image I did find
had a major impact on me.

 

Although Burst Mode wasn’t introduced until the iPhone 5S, the 3G could shoot pictures in faster succession than the previous model. So, inside a dark warehouse at my friend’s wedding reception, I thought “Man, there sure are a lot of flashes going off in here. I wonder if I could, by sheer luck, sync my iPhone to one of those flashes?” I shot hundreds if not thousands of images, waiting for that perfect shot, and then it happened:

 

Taylor & Christie McCabe. Shot on iPhone 3G, June 12, 2009.

Taylor & Christie McCabe. Shot on iPhone 3G, June 12, 2009.

After capturing this image, I immediately showed it to Taylor. He looked and it was like, “Dude, you have to share this with me!” I emailed it over to him that night with the subject “Best iPhone Photo Ever!”

 

I realized the true power of the
iPhone platform as an imaging tool:
Shoot + Edit + Share, instantaneously.

 

As they drove away on their honeymoon, they held a special image to reflect on together while they surely waited weeks for an image from their pro. I pondered this and began to realize how transformative this imaging platform could be, especially if they kept improving the sensor.


June 19, 2009: iPhone 3GS

 

I found very few images from this iPhone, as well, but I did dig up this gem:

 

 
BTS while shooting in New Zealand. 

BTS while shooting in New Zealand. 

 

 

June 24, 2010: iPhone 4

 

The iPhone 4 boosted low-light capability with a backside illuminated sensor, and it added 720p video, geotagged photos and videos, and the first Retina display on iPhone. That year they also pushed a mobile version of iMovie to enable mobile video editing. 

Underwater editing?

 

I don’t have many images from that year, but the most interesting tidbit is I tried to edit a film underwater on iPhone 4. When they announced iMovie for iPhone, I couldn’t stop thinking about shooting a short film underwater and EDITING it underwater, with the main goal of becoming the first ever short edited underwater. Why? Because it was possible.

I got scuba gear and a waterproof case and shot a bunch of clips and then I attempted to sit at the bottom of a pool (while breathing oxygen) to edit. I quickly found out I couldn’t touch the screen underwater because the water was conductive and the iPhone couldn’t recognize my fingers touching the screen. Oh well!

A pitch to shoot the World Cup on iPhone

 

While rummaging through my notes, I found a pitch I wrote to steve@apple.com (hoping it would get to Jobs). I was shooting the World Cup in South Africa during the time the iPhone 4 launched and got the idea that I should return to the US, pick up an iPhone 4 or two, and return to South Africa to shoot this worldwide spectacle with that shiny new 5 megapixel camera! (Never heard back.)


 

October 14, 2011: iPhone 4S

 

This is the year I really started shooting a lot more with my iPhone. I was traveling and shooting a lot with dSLRs, but I started to really enjoy the iPhone in new ways, and not just for its simplicity, but also for its unique power.

My first Instagram post

 

This was the year I joined Instagram. Here’s my first Instagram post ever, taken from my rooftop window view of Paris:

My very first Instagram post. Shot with iPhone 4S on November 30, 2011.

My very first Instagram post. Shot with iPhone 4S on November 30, 2011.

 

This year I also released a 5x5 photo journal book, shot on iPhone 4 and 4S.

You can download the PDF here.

 
 

 

September 21, 2012: iPhone 5

 

This was the year of my first ever iPhone camera review with the iPhone 5. The big, new camera feature this year was panorama mode, and I was unable to find great data on how well it worked. The reviews I found were well written, but they were all treating the camera as just another feature in a list of specs. At best, they had a pano shot posted of their NYC office in low res.

I wanted answers. How could I use this new pano mode for pro work? Does it really work as well as their keynote demo when you’re in the field? So I pitched an unrelated job in Iceland, got it, and then headed there to shoot the job and to push the iPhone pano mode to the max in a place jam-packed with killer pano opportunities.

Bound for Iceland, this is the very first travel pano I ever took with iPhone.

Bound for Iceland, this is the very first travel pano I ever took with iPhone.

I remember hopping out of the car to capture this and learning to use pano mode for the first time.

I remember hopping out of the car to capture this and learning to use pano mode for the first time.


September 20, 2013: iPhone 5S

 

The iPhone 5S Camera Review was in Patagonia. New features were Burst Mode, slo-mo, and improved panos.

My favorite pano from that trip was this one of Jordan Bellamy below. This is the first iPhone image I ever printed in large format on fine-art paper. At 38 megapixels, it actually looked fantastic, even at over 6 feet!

This was the very first iPhone image I outputted as a large-format fine art panorama (80")!

This was the very first iPhone image I outputted as a large-format fine art panorama (80")!


September 19, 2014: iPhone 6/6 Plus

 

This was the biggest update we’d had in a long time. New body, new camera, new size. I worked on the iPhone 6 Plus Camera Review in Iceland. When I first held the iPhone 6 Plus to my ear, I can remember saying out loud, “I could never do this.” I finally decided to give it a try as my main iPhone, and I never turned back.

While I sometimes miss the sleek size of the original iPhone, the things I really appreciate about the Plus are the extra screen size for shooting and editing, the better battery life, and now the 7 Plus has a significantly better camera setup with the telephoto lens (and Portrait Mode).

Iceland, 2014, shot on iPhone 6 Plus.

Iceland, 2014, shot on iPhone 6 Plus.

 

A few months later, an image from my Iceland trip was featured in Apple’s “Start Something New” campaign (before “Shot on iPhone”).

 


September 25, 2015: iPhone 6S/6S Plus

 

In 2015, we went to Switzerland for our iPhone 6s Camera Review. We got a few updates to the camera in the 6S Plus, like Live Photos and better low light shooting, but the feature I found most impressive that year was the software stabilized video & time-lapse. The side-by-sides in the stabilization test were insane.

When we arrived in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the fog was thick and many of the shots were all pretty flat and gray. We finally pivoted the plan and jumped between peaks via cable cars to get up and above the fog. With all the clouds and the improved time-lapse capabilities, we decided to make this piece:


September 16, 2016: iPhone 7/7 Plus

 

My camera review of the iPhone 7 Plus took me to Rwanda to photograph silverback gorillas. I wanted to test the new zoom capabilities in photographing the gorillas, but I quickly realized how useful it was elsewhere.

I said it in the review in September and I’ll say it again today: in my opinion, this has been the biggest camera upgrade to date. The addition of the telephoto lens has been transformational for everyday shooting — especially portraits.

 

As I dug through the last 10 years of images, a new realization dawned on me: while the iPhone’s role in my professional career has transitioned to the forefront over the years, it’s always been the camera I’ve used to capture the things I hold most dear.

The iPhone is the camera I’ve used to capture my life.

 

It’s captured my best friend’s crazy college haircut, my dream job in New York, my friends’ weddings, the birth of my niece, my farewell to the Jeep I drove in college, and most recently my engagement to the woman I love, Esther.

Thanks to Apple and every single person on the team working tirelessly to create new products that enrich our lives. It’s been a fun 10 years with my iPhone in my pocket, and I anxiously look forward to the next!

 

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