An iPhone Wedding!

In case you can’t tell, I’m loving the iPhone’s camera – especially the Hipstamatic & ShakeItCamera apps. I’ve used it for all manner of subjects so the next frontier for me was of course a wedding. Yes, I pulled out the trusty iPhone at a wedding that I was hired to photograph – and not just once or twice. It was right there at every moment of the day. Every moment until the battery died.

Of course, I had my other cameras on hand. My two Canon 5D’s were slung over my neck while my iPhone was in my pocket or sometimes on the ground waiting for me to nab my shot. Basically, it was my third camera. Here’s the view from the grounds of the Thursday Club where the ceremony and reception were held.

And the bride, Mary, just as she showed up. I loved it when she told me that when she gets stressed, she smiles. Much better than the alternatives!

The dress. The Hipstamatic Blackeys film was perfect for this moment.

Dad waiting to walk the bride down the aisle.

Where the iPhone really excels is in the details. It focuses amazingly close. The small sensor creates a huge depth of field – everything is in focus. No SLR could match this.

The iPhone runs into trouble anytime there’s a hint of backlighting. I had to take this into Lightroom to open the shadows. The light coming in from the door behind the subjects tricked the camera into underexposing.

Again, I love the iPhone’s closeup focus ability. I couldn’t have gotten this tight with my DSLR.

What I don’t like about the Hipstamatic is the processing time between shots. It’s something like half a minute with the high res setting. That essentially means that I have one opportunity to get the shot. If someone blinks, too bad.

As hi-tech as this camera is, in a way, it’s like the cameras of old. Patience and timing are required.

I can’t deny that I felt a little uncomfortable pulling out my iPhone in the middle of the ceremony. It’s one thing for the guests, but another for the “pro.” I just reminded myself that it’s not the camera that counts.

Outside at the ceremony is where things started to fall apart. The depth of field worked against me since now everything is in focus. The subjects merge with the background. The lack of exposure control means that the shadows just go to black with no hope of recovery.

I shot a lot of color during the ceremony so that the subjects would stand out from the green background. Because the processing time with the Hipstamatic was so long, it wasn’t practical to use during the short ceremony. Instead, I switched to the faster ShakeItPhoto.

Unfortunately, the skin tones of the groom just turned bright red. The ShakeItPhoto app just made the situation worse since it pumps up the contrast and saturation of the image. None of these made the cut. Thankfully I had plenty of 5D MII  backup images!

The iPhone is such a whimsical toy that it helps me to get shots that I might normally overlook. This shot during the family formals is something I might have missed but for the Hipstamatic.

I love the flare here. This is something my DSLR’s wouldn’t allow since they have coated glass and lens shades.

After the formals and bride and groom shots, it was back to the reception. The camera battery was quite low at this point. In all, I shot over 250 images during the wedding. Once I started using the flash, the battery really started to crash.

I had to work in Lightroom to bring down the saturation on the father of the groom’s face. He was bright red before I fixed him.

The reception was challenging. Low light combined with low flash horsepower left much of the action out of the range of the IPhone.

This was the last shot of the evening. The camera just shut down right after this.

In sum, I think the iPhone is great for getting ready shots. It works the details. The black and white goes well with the mood as well. Once you get into skin tones, it’s hit and miss with the Hipsta or ShakeItPhoto. It’s not just the apps – the camera itself punches up the reds then the apps really push it to the extreme.

The iPhone has few adjustments so it’s important to understand how light affects the exposure. Working around the limitations of the camera is a challenge – especially in the time constrainted context of a wedding. Still, if you’re at a wedding, don’t be surprised if I pull out my iPhone when you least expect it!


About johnmireles

Photographer, writer, thinker, climber, outrigger canoeist, bad guitar player and even worse singer.
This entry was posted in Hipstamatic, ShakeItPhoto and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to An iPhone Wedding!

  1. Clare Day says:


  2. Clare Day says:

    ABSOLUTLEY LOVE IT!!! I love my hipstamatic, and you have inspired me to not only dream about taking these shots but actually doing it. good on ya!

  3. [ b ] says:

    love it. i use my iPhone at weddings all of the time. the camera in the iPhone 4 rocks!

  4. Phil says:

    Well done! This is something I’ve wanted to do and admire your creativity. Excellent work.

  5. gina lee says:

    I love my iphone 4… It pretty much is my point and shoot camera..
    great pics..

  6. John Wiley says:

    Amazing! 😉 Love it! Hipstamatic is the coolest app!

    • John Wiley says:

      …and, once again, this shows that virtually any camera works just fine in the hands of a skilled photographer!! Nice work, John!!

  7. Incredible John! Love your eye, style, and confidence! Thanks for the useful tips xoxo

  8. Tony Gallagher says:

    Thanks John for sharing this info!

  9. Great photos John & good for you to bring another camera along:)
    Thanks for sharing the images.

  10. You are so right… when you shoot with your iPhone, Droid or whatever smartphone you have, you realize that it’s not always about the camera, but about the creativity of the photographer. You should also try out the tiltshift app.

    All the best,

  11. Thomas Geist says:

    Very nice!! I shot an engagement session with my Nokia cell phone two years ago and it was a fun experience.
    Did you see the latest update for ShakeItPhoto – it now processes full res photos! With your iPhone 4 that should be awesome.
    Too bad you can’t use photos from your photo roll in Hipstamatic like you can do with ShakeItPhoto. Ok, that’s a bit of cheating, but if you need to get a moment and can’t wait for the processing, it might make sense to shoot with the iPhone’s camera straight and then process.

  12. Thanks for sharing! Absolutely amazing images from a camera phone! I can’t begin to imagine where our industry will be in 5 years.

  13. Brian says:

    Great shots, but why?

    Would you like to borrow my daughters Fisher Price 640×480 camera next?

    I hope the bride doesn’t ask for a 30×40 print! 😉

  14. Pingback: 2010 in review | Hipstarama

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