Cathaleen Curtiss – » As I see it...

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Shoot with your heart!

It is no secret that I love my phone/camera. I never say “where’s my phone?” I am more likely to say, “Let me grab my camera!”  In the last several years I have fallen head over heals for my iPhone camera. I realized my obsession a few years ago when I was attending Midsummer Night Swing at the Lincoln Center in NYC.

The organizers of the event would not allow participants to take anything on the dance floor that was not attached to the person; of course I had my “camera” in my hand, no holder, no pocket, no strap…no admittance. After a panicked moment, I choose my phone over swing lessons.   I remember the feeling of dread as I started to turn over my phone.  After all, I could make photos from the sidelines while learning the steps but I could not make photos while dancing without my phone.   The decision seemed simple.  Thankfully, my friend let me borrow her waist clip so that I could go out on the dance floor AND keep my camera.  I never did master the swing step but I made a few fun photos from the night and that is good enough for me.

(photo taken in Red Square, Moscow on November 9, 1989 with a Nikon F-3)


I spent many years as a professional photojournalist. I covered the White House, traveled, went to Superbowls, worked on long-term projects and carried heavy bags of gear and film everywhere. I was never without a camera. When I became a Director Of Photography for a large online company, I put my gear down. My mission became building staff, creating templates, setting budgets, hiring photographers and making sure the staff had the support needed to create great visual presentations. I was so excited when our photo staff created an iPhone app to display all our great photography presentations. I was obnoxiously showing everyone our new app, “Look I have an iPhone app!” Until one day my daughter said, “No. Mom, you have a blackberry with a photo of an app.” Two weeks later my family gave me my first iPhone for Mother’s Day. I have hardly been without it since.

I know it is not the same as “real gear”, but it is always with me. Years ago in photojournalism school I learned, “The best camera is the one you have with you.” This particular “camera” has been with me for graduations and weddings, visits to the family farm and Spain, carnivals and reunions. It has opened my eyes to seeing again. I enjoy experimenting with photo apps, as much as, I loved printing B&W photos. Recently, I started carrying a small bag along with my iPhone, it contains a small tripod, my old iPhone for added lighting and a very cool new toy, the Olloclip

Hannah celeberates graduation from College of Charleston in 2010. iPhone 3

I know, carrying a “bag of gear” defeats the purpose of only needing a phone but it adds a whole new element of fun. The real challenge and reward for me is making the image. Besides, the “bag of gear” is still small enough to fit inside a small purse or backpack.

Someone recently asked. “Don’t you feel guilty that you are making photos on your phone?” My reply, “Don’t you feel guilty that you aren’t making photos?”

The hill side near The Biltmore Mansion in Ashville, NC iPhone 4 with hdr

I love being a part of the iPhone community for this reason, we make photos, we share photos and we celebrate life with photos.  There are so many GREAT photographers now experimenting and using smart phones to make beautiful photographs. The use of the iPhone has got me excited about making photographs again.  I stop and look at things now in closer detail.  While driving, I now stop, turn around and go back when I see something of interest, I wouldn’t have done that five years ago.  The iPhone and the ease of sharing has helped me slow down and really appreciate the journey.

Evening stroll with Ella in Granada, Spain. iPhone 3 – ProHDR app

So pick up your camera, any camera!! Go out and take photos, look closely at the world around you, shoot with your heart, enjoy seeing, capture your life experiences and please share your vision.

All photos in this post © Cathaleen Curtiss.  This post originally published in