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Daughter, with iPhone, Takes Better Photos than Father, with Nikon D800


It’s every photobuff parent’s dream–to have their child share their passion for photography, to love the hobby that brings them so much satisfaction and joy, and to watch their child’s photographic vision blossom under their loving, watchful, mentoring eye.

Amateur photographer Honda El Camino was living that dream. His daughter, Sonata, first showed an interest in his hobby ten years ago when she was just two. It was a cute moment, little Sonata raising the Pentax MX up to her eye, mimicking what she’d seen her dad do a thousand times before. She didn’t know how to press the shutter, but everyone around had a good laugh.

Honda’s graduated from the diminutive film Pentax to a Nikon D70s, then a D300, and most recently (thanks to a good-sized tax refund) a D800 with some really nice glass. And to cultivate Sonata’s photographic interests, there was often a new point-and-shoot under the Christmas tree–a Canon PowerShot one year, a Nikon Coolpix another year, with a Sony Cybershot and Panasonic Lumix thrown in for good measure.

But then something went wrong. Very wrong. Sonata got an Apple iPhone for her twelfth birthday. And she hasn’t touched a camera since.

“I don’t know what happened,” says an exasperated Honda. “One day, she’s right beside me taking photos. The next day, she’s on the iPhone, doing this Instagram thing with her friends. She hasn’t picked up her Panasonic Lumix LX-7 since. I’d be so sad if she doesn’t like taking pictures anymore. I think that she really has potential to be a good photographer. I’ve taught her everything that I know.”

When we sat down with Sonata and her father, she was polite and respectful, deferring to her dad. And then her father left the room to take a phone call and Sonata opened up.

“I felt bad that I was taking better pictures than my dad. He was proud of me and all, but you could see it in his eye, always looking at his big camera, playing with the settings, unsure of himself. And then we’d come home and show picture that we took to family and friends, and although our photos were mixed together, they were always complimenting mine. In his desperation, he started buying bigger and more expensive cameras and bigger lenses. My poor brother isn’t getting the new XBox for Christmas this year because dad’s saving up for a macro lens.”

We asked Sonata why she stopped using a camera and is instead using her iPhone. She replied, “I like the Panasonic, I really do. It’s just that it breaks my heart to see my dad lose his confidence. So I thought that I’d even the odds by shooting with the iPhone. But that hasn’t worked either. I’m asking for a Holga of Fuji Instax for Christmas….maybe that will help. Please don’t tell him I told you!”

Sonata’s first show, “Postmodern Anxiety in the American Middle Class,” opens next month at the Main Street Gallery.

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  1. D800 to a cellphone is what a 12″ battleship cannon is to an Uzi. You’re much more nimble and in the action with the little Uzi, whereas to hit anything at all with that big cannon you need to be able to anticipate – which requires knowing your terrain, your subject, your gear, and yourself.

    It takes more forethought to shoot well with a big, conspicuous, “elephant in the room” camera as compared to an Instagram phone. This article is a great case in point, and on my blog I write about the general trend that it illustrates: http://karasevstudio.com/o2/2013/32

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