Recently I had the opportunity to leave the U.S. for the first time and travel somewhere entirely foreign to me: the beautiful South Pacific country of Thailand. I spent two weeks traversing the country via plane, ferry, bus, taxi, tuk-tuk and my good old two feet. It was an amazingly eye opening experience. I had a lot of fun meeting new people, exploring the country and relaxing with two of my very good friends.
There was something particularly interesting which stood out to me about the locals / visitors / people: the use of technology for photos. While backpacking around the country I noticed that people were actually looking where they were walking! They were slowing down to take in landscapes. They weren't glued to a 4 inch screen! People were stowing their mobile devices and instead were focusing on one piece of technology - an actual camera!
In the U.S. many of us leave the big, bulky DSLR at home and rely only on our iPhones or mobile device cameras to capture life's special moments; after all, it's just SO convenient. My experience while traveling abroad, was that the inverse is true! Very rarely did I see travelers take an iPhone or iPad from their bag and try to capture the beauty Thailand had to offer. Of course the complications & cost of using a phone abroad may have deterred people from using their iPhone, but the lack of non-roaming networks doesn't stop folks from using their iPhones as cameras. I found instead that people kept a DSLR around their neck and slowed down to frame their shots. I was entirely guilty of this, and took over 600 shots on my DSLR during my two week stay.
Although many think that dedicated digital camera use may fade as mobile camera quality improves and devices become ever more convenient, one of my many preconceived thoughts which was enlightened by this travel abroad experience is that no matter how mobile camera quality improves when the shots truly matter to the photographer, convenience gives way to quality and people will take the time to slow down, take a deep breath, and frame up a shot that's worth hanging on a wall back home.