Man on Wall with Pokemon on Head

Aoufous, Morocco

Anyone who's ever tried to hike uphill with a huge heavy SLR camera around their neck knows that with every belabored step, that camera is going to bang repeatedly right into your rib bone. On several occasions (especially HIKING 14ERS), it has been enough for me to seriously consider stashing my camera in some complex hiding place, in a tree hole covered with leaves or in a crevice under a pile of rocks (see I've really thought about this), and then just grabbing it again on the way back down.

So no one is more interested than me at following a different kind of uphill progress -- the continual yearly improvement of the iPhone cameras. If a phone camera, that fits in my pocket, could eventually get to a place where it technologically surpasses the big clunky thing around my neck, with minimal sacrifices or loss of picture quality? Man, would that be sublime.

Sadly, it's not quite there yet. We still need our lenses to come in a greater array of focal lengths. However, there are a couple instances where even in its present iteration, I have found that the iPhone 14 Pro Max is already my preferred choice of photographic equipment: the candid shot, and the forbidden shot. Let me explain.

You can get away with a lot more, and much more easily, when shooting with your camera phone rather than your actual camera. No matter where you are in the world, or how quaint the little tribal village is, the second you start hefting your enormous camera, with its gigantic lens, up towards your eye, there is little to no confusion about what you're doing. Photography with a capital "P" is happening, and that's when everyone always starts doing one of two things: Suddenly they are either artificially posing and smiling, or they are raising their hand up in front of their face, the universal sign for "No Photo!"

As a photographer, rarely are either of these two things what you are hoping to have happen. Oh, and I suppose there's also an increasingly common Third Option, and that is that they'll let you take their picture, but only if you give them money. Great.

Well, you can avoid all of this (and even take photos with complete abandon in a place where photographs are otherwise strictly prohibited) if you use your phone. Everyone knows what you are doing with your camera, but much less so with your phone. Maybe I'm just playing a game?!

"I'm not taking a photo of you, Sir, there’s a Pokémon on your head. Good day to you."


"Sir, with you standing half in and out of that shadow like that, I can't quite get the picture, I mean, Pokémon, so let's just bring you right over here into this better light, overlooking the city... Fantastic."

I'll tell you one more of my classic tricks, that only fails on the most discerning of subjects (see my story about the holy BABAS OF KATHMANDU, they weren’t falling for my bullshit, lol, and invoked the dreaded Third Option, payment), but while you are composing your shot, the whole time just smile moronically like a grinning idiot towards your phone. Done!

For all intents and purposes, you appear to be taking a stupid selfie, and whoever you are photographing won't pay you any more mind. If you are taking a selfie, you clearly aren't a serious photographer.

This photo is of a local man on a roadside wall, near Aoufous, Morocco; and serious photographer or not, I think we can all agree that the photo quality of this iPhone 14 Pro Max camera, taken with no flash or any other lighting implement, is inarguably high quality, and looks professional.

I was impressed, at least. But what do I know? I was just capturing Pokémon and taking selfies.