What do you give a photographer who could shoot with any camera? A Windows phone, apparently: Microsoft this week profiles National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez took “smartphone photography to the next level” by climbing Mount Everest without any “real” cameras in hand.
The two-week trek up Mount Everest in April 2014 was shot with a pair of Lumia smartphones, and “it’s likely… he was thinking how lucky he was to not need to schlep a five-pound, professional-grade SLR up the world’s steepest incline,” the company says.
Alvarez has worked with National Geographic for 20 years. The magazine “asked him to photograph the Seven Natural Wonders of the World using only Microsoft smartphones.”
After the event, Alvarez commented that “the digital jump didn’t surprise me so much, but the miniaturization of cameras into telephones I never really saw coming. Now, when I have to go back to the big SLRs for work, I sometimes forget how huge they are. I mean, just how gargantuan is a pro SLR with a lens on it? They’re great imaging devices, but at the cost of an awful lot of weight, and an awful lot of money.”
It’s not just the weight differnce: “Alvarez manages to easily capture the kind of genuine human moments you have to finesse a bit while packing a full SLR rig,” the profile adds. “Everyone knows I’m a professional photographer,” Alvarez said. “Yes, I’m shooting for Microsoft; yes, these pictures will be used commercially; yes, they’ll sign releases. Everyone’s happy with it. But using a smaller device is just a lot less intimidating, because even though they know all that stuff, the camera that I’m putting in front of them is something that even people in the Khumbu Valley see every day. They all have smartphones and they all use them.”
It’s an interesting read: The full profile is here.