Photography is not just about the camera
Once upon a time I started taking photos with a Lubitel, which is an old, very basic, and completely manual camera. In 2000 I switched from film to digital and everything could be automated. This was the time when I finally realized that having a good camera is not everything. A perfect exposure with a good camera can still result in an ugly and boring photo.
When I had a fully manual film camera, I quickly learned how to do perfectly exposed photos without any tools to measure light or distance. My later film cameras had exposure metering, but still, my own estimates were much better than the measurements of my cameras. I had some really nice photos, but most of them were pretty boring, despite being perfectly exposed. Knowing that I had some cheap, Soviet and DDR made cameras, I blamed it on the tech, of course. Yes, I blamed boring photos on the cheap cameras even though my exposures were 100% perfect, sometimes even better (with a bit of luck, one could take 37 photos on a 36 photos film).
My first digital camera was a Nikon Coolpix 950. This was state-of-the-art camera in 2000, way ahead of the competition. I did not have to guess exposure and distance anymore, as everything was properly measured and set by the camera. Still, the majority of my photos were ugly and boring. This was an eye-opening moment for me: I realized that technology is not everything.
For almost two decades, my primary focus was on mastering the perfect exposure and distance without any tools. This camera could set those on its own. This was the moment when I realized that composition is also key. Making sure that I focus on the main subject, do not chop off the head or legs of people, select a proper background, that I am aware of the depth of field and the rule of thirds, and so on.
To me, mastering the proper exposure was an instinct. Learning how to compose nice photos was a long learning process. I have some really nice photos. Most of them are now well composed, but there is nothing really special about them. No matter how many photos I take or how many books I read about photography, it is not really possible to learn creativity…
For many years I considered mobile photography a joke. Compared to a full frame or APS-C camera, the lens and sensor in a mobile are ridiculous. However, the camera is not everything. Of course, the camera can limit some of the advanced possibilities, but not the composition and creativity.
Learning how to use a camera can be overwhelming. A good camera is also expensive, but using “just” a mobile does not mean that someone is not good at photography. I met quite a few people who were bullied by people with expensive cameras that they suck at photography. And yet, when you look at their photos taken using their mobile, you see that they do wonderful compositions without ever hearing about the rule of thirds, or knowing about timing or aperture. With a bit of encouragement, they understood that they are taking nice photos and some even started to learn photography.
Long story short: a good camera can give a lot more flexibility and extra quality, but it is just one ingredient of good photos. Do not discourage anyone from pursuing photography just because they are using a mobile or a point and shoot camera.
You can find some of my photos on Gurushots.