Smartphone Photographer Erica Coble Interview (Mobile Creator Series)
So, who exactly is @filmandpixel, and why should you care about her work? Well, her name is Erica “Spin” Coble, and she’s an incredibly successful phone photographer (who just so happens to work for Moment).
While Erica doesn’t shoot exclusively on her phone, she does love the convenience of the mobile. Her feeling is that if you pair anything with one of those excellent Moment lenses, then you have a more user-friendly and, at times, a better way of taking photos.
If you’re interested in her photography portfolio, then check out her website!
For now, let’s get to the MCS and get to know @filmandpixel!
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Table of Contents
THE MOBILE CREATOR SERIES
WHAT IS THE MOBILE CREATOR SERIES?
MCS is an initiative to discover and highlight photographers pioneering mobile photography. It’s a series of interviews and collaborations that highlight the potential of smartphones and the innovation of the people using them to push the envelope of traditional photography.
The goal is to inspire new photographers to think outside the box – to create with the tools you have available. Secondarily, we want to dispel the notion that smartphones aren’t comparable to conventional cameras. The artists featured are our evidence.
Without further ado, meet Erica.
THE MOBILE CREATOR SERIES: INTERVIEW WITH @FILMANDPIXEL
NAME: ERICA “SPIN” COBLE
LOCATION / HOMEBASE: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
FAVORITE GEAR: iPHONE 11 PRO + MOMENT LENSES/ PENTAX 67 + LEICA M6
Erica’s style is awesome – it’s like a mix between the film photography of the 60s and a modern take on street photography. It seems like the two wouldn’t mix, but we can assure you that they do.
Another thing that makes the work of @filmandpixel intriguing is the composition and how she seems to understand the capabilities of her phone better than her competition. There’s never a photo that is overcluttered, and she gets more from her phone than ninety-nine percent of phone photographers.
We got to the bottom of how she does it.
Here’s the obvious question – do you choose to use a smartphone for photography instead of a traditional camera? Is it a full replacement or just a supplement?
Right now, it’s just a supplement, but at times it has been my replacement.
I shoot a lot of mixed media (from film to digital photography), but I often find myself shooting on mobile or smartphone because of the convenience. Smartphones have gotten incredibly useful over the last few years, so it makes it even easier and sometimes better to shoot mobile.
Do you think smartphones offer any significant advantages over traditional cameras? Are there serious shortcomings, in your opinion?
The advantages are definitely there. For instance, the convenience of always having a camera in your pocket is awesome. Another thing worth noting is the improving dynamic range capability of smartphones. Add in the lowlight capabilities and it’s easy to leave your camera at home.
For me, I shoot a lot of street photography too, so I find mobile photography to be much more discreet. No one ever second guesses when you point a phone at them to take a picture. On the other hand, with a large camera, you might get a different reaction from your subject.
I think the dynamic range is, of course, better with digital and especially with film; there is so much latitude to it. When it comes to the depth of field of portrait modes on smartphones, the technology still hasn’t been dialed in one hundred percent.
There are definitely still advantages to a DSLR or film camera over mobile.
(If necessary: ) How do you overcome the drawbacks of smartphone photography?
I try not to shoot when it’s too dark – mainly when composing an image that has bokeh or too much depth.
Street photography often doesn’t have much depth of field to it, so for me, it’s the perfect tool for shooting street. I also have gotten really familiar with editing apps and what I like, which helps me overcome the drawbacks. It definitely takes practice to do, but you can get similar, if not better results, with phone photography.
Smartphones are more than just cameras – they can edit and publish photos too. Do you use any other phone features in the course of your work?
Absolutely. I use VSCO and Afterlight to edit my photos. These apps, and others like them, make it SO much simpler to edit my photos. They also make my workflow faster to publish images, which is an absolute game-changer.
Do you think there is any type of gear that is critical to enabling mobile photography? What is it? Why?
I love their gear as a whole, and I feel like the lenses help me transform my phone into a working camera. With the set of Moment lenses I have, there are all these different focal lengths to play with. The result is that each photo has unlimited potential thanks to all those tools I have to use.
Any secret tricks or techniques you can share for people interested in improving their mobile photography?
Edit until your eyeballs bleed. No, but seriously…
When I started shooting a lot of mobile photography, I would always edit my photos and slide everything to its extreme to see how it changed the image (brightness, contrast, saturation, etc.). It helped me get a better understanding of how to achieve my style and look.
Don’t just point and shoot. Compose and use your built-in camera tools (like brightness) or third-party camera apps (like the Moment Pro Camera app) that give you full control of your image output just like a camera would.
Any final words of advice to aspiring photographers?
Shoot everything. Get out and shoot landscapes, portraits, concerts, food, and street photography.
You should shoot every style until you find what you like.
Edit the same photo in different ways to find your own creative voice. Get inspired by things outside of photography. I look at cooking, art, and architectural books for inspiration constantly.
You’d be surprised how other mediums help you to produce a new eye. You start to look at shadows, lines, colors, and composition in totally unique ways.