Magazine Covers Shot with Phones Ain’t No Thing

Magazine Covers Shot with Phones Ain’t No Thing

Scoring a national magazine cover shoot to prove the greatness of a phone’s camera has become part of the standard PR playbook for manufacturers. TIME featured photos taken by Luisa Dörr using an iPhone for a September 2017 over story entitled “Firsts” about women changing the world.

One of seventeen TIME covers photographed on iPhone by Luisa Dörr.

And GQ’s November 2018 cover features an image of First Man’s Ryan Gosling shot by Giampaolo Sgura on a Google Pixel 3.

Photo by Giampaolo Sgura shot with a Google Pixel 3.

On the one hand, the quality of smartphone images is a technological marvel of hardware and software that merits mention. While phones and their operating systems have entered a slow-and-steady maturation phase largely devoid of wow factors, the cameras have gotten frighteningly good year after year. In the past 18 months, phones from a variety of manufacturers have showcased the power of computational photography and machine learning – shifting photography away from its optical origins into something much more mathematical with incredible results.

Google Pixel 3 XL

On the other hand, smartphones outnumber dedicated cameras by orders of magnitude in both physical quantity, as well as the number of images taken in a given time. A camera phone created in 2018 with sufficient light better be able to create an image that can be used on a magazine cover (and let’s be honest, these images are retouched anyway).

Sgura is a fine celebrity portraitist. Armed with stylists, lighting grips, and um, Ryan Gosling, he’s more than capable of producing a great image whether he’s using a top of the line DSLR or an $800 Pixel 3.

But Google’s bragging rights are moot because the wow factor is no longer there. Consumers expect great images from their expensive, pocketable computers. I’ve never wondered what camera a photographer used to shoot a cover, and phone manufacturers should stop answering the non-existent question.

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Aejaz Saiyed at 12:21 pm

    Very nice concept. Fully proctected and safe. No issue of copyright for any photography. Really interested idea. thanks so much.

  2. larry deluxe at 12:46 pm

    the most important point of this article is the “retouching” done. what everyone ignores is where these images will be stored safely and archivally, how they will be accessed in 20-30 years and what they will look like . Cloud is a smokescreen to copyright and image theft, and will rise in price drastically. To feel secure knowing some company basically owns your images and for a price will let you borrow them once in a while is impossible. Take a look at your phone images from 4 years ago if you can find them. No so nice, right?

  3. John Clifford at 3:21 pm

    Wondering if the on camera/phone flash is used to fire other sophisticated flash setups by slave sync? Ryans eyes reflect a flash possibly from the camera as an eye light but the shadows tell me that the overall light is from the side. If you go through all that lighting setup why not just grab a real camera?

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