Apple VP of Marketing to Photographers: Stop Learning, We’ll Do the Work for You


Lost amid the semi-frenzy over Apple’s new iPhone models was a provocative photography-related comment made by Apple Senior VP of Marketing, Phil Schiller, during Tuesday’s announcement.

Schiller said, and we quote (thanks to Jeffrey Friedl for the catch):

It used to be the way you take better pictures is you learn to be a better photographer. You get bigger cameras, bigger lenses, you learn about all the techniques of light meters and gels and filters, and you can spend your lifetime learning how to take advantage of this and make it work for you.

For the people who want do that, that’s great. For most of us, we just want to take a picture, and have the iPhone take a better picture for us.

Wow … where does one even begin to unpack that? We might start by noting that gels and light meters are usually not the first place to start in improving one’s photography. Learning how to turn off the flash and pay attention to the position and composition of light, for example, often comes in handy.


Or how about the condescending “you people” tone for anyone who takes photography seriously, seemingly relegating an entire art form and vocation to the level of a meaningless hobby. Or the notion that it’s now a waste of time to try to outsmart your camera, as if image sensors have gotten so advanced that our puny brains are no longer required.

Taken together with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s dismissal of photography as a profession, it’s hard not to wonder where serious photographers fit in the tech industry anymore.

At the mass market end of the spectrum, we’re being told we’re an insignificant speck of a demographic in a world that mainly wants to grab cooler selfies. On professional end, we’re told we’re fakers or would-bes if we don’t shovel thousands of dollars into updated equipment every year.

And yet DIY projects and inspirational tales of photographers doing amazing things with the tools they have continue to be among the most popular stories on PetaPixel, suggesting that, at least in some quarters, there’s still a hunger to learn.

(via Jeffrey Friedl)


  • Woody ONeal

    …and who the heck carries three books on photography with them?

  • TN

    some of us come to read the reactions to the hyperbolic headlines ~_^

  • sankavarmuch

    I don’t own an Apple product, other than an iPod. I’m a “hobbiest” photog shooting SLRs, and also respect the work pros do. But to be fair, where does the phrase “you people” come up in the quote mentioned in the article above? That quote isn’t dismissive of photographers? It’s true, most people want to just take a picture – albiet they want it to be as nice a picture as possible.
    I didn’t watch the product announcement yesterday, but if there is more to it than what was quoted, it’s poor writing by the author of this article. Otherwise, I think you’re all just looking for something to be uptight about.
    Do your thing. Let Apple do their thing. Why do you care what they say? Sheesh.

  • Alex R

    Another reason for me not to like apple products, It’s their sheer arrogance. How can an iPhone take better pictures than a pro photographer or an amateur/hobbyist like me? You have to understand light if you want to take a good pic. Or is the iPhone in its magical innards going to pull out and put a strobe or strobes, place it in the right place or places with the correct modifiers, position the person, subject or object in the correct position/pose and do all of the correct post-production for you auto-magically?

    I understand that an iPhone or any other smartphone can make your pictures “look” better because of all the filters that you can apply after you take the picture, but all of these filters will not do you any good if you do not understand light and how light affects someone’s look/appearance.

    A professional photographer, even an amateur/hobbyist can take a better picture with an iPhone/smartphone than the average person. Why you ask?….because they understand light.

    Rant over; now back to your regularly scheduled program

  • John Mason

    Time was, as a systems’ programmer, I had to worry about the minutae of the computer, because programming was so low level. Now, the hardware and operating systems do 99.9% of what we “professionals” felt made us professional. And those scum, “users”, can achieve in a minute what took us weeks.

    And so we grew. The software industry still has professionals who can achieve what “users’ can never aspire to achieve.

    Photography (a very serious hobby of mine) is the same. Professional photographers are being freed of minutae by technology. They must grow and continue to produce art above that of the consumer or pro-sumer.

    So if an iPhone can do better than a professional of 10 years ago, the true professional has moved beyond that.

    His remarks are either a warning or a call to arms. Evolution kills dinosaurs. The professional should, almost by definition, be beyond his remarks. Get mad or get even. It’s up to you.

  • notphased

    The man is just selling his phones. I’m not concerned about what he said and it certainly doesn’t make it true. He’s not a photographer, he’s a business man. Whatever. Photography is still very much alive, and I know I enjoy it and that’s all that matters.

  • John Mason

    Of course, your PC will malfunction a lot more often. So, overall which is better?

  • Jeffrey Friedl

    From Friedl who? I don’t think I said that, nor would have said that.

  • David Vaughn

    I think Eport is mostly talking about how with Windows it seems much easier to get into the back-end and screw around with the system in consumer computers.

    Sure, if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s pretty easy to screw up your Windows system, but if something does go wrong I can look under the hood and try to figure out the problem. However, and this is just from my experience with a Mac (I only use Mac at work while I only use Windows at home lol), I cannot very easily go back there and see what’s up. I mean, the Mac doesn’t usually have any problems, but when it does…Oh lord am I screwed.

    I’m sure there’s some way to look at the back-end of a Mac, but the fact that Apple doesn’t seem to WANT me, the user, the buyer, to be able to have total control of my computer kind of irks me.

  • David Vaughn

    I’m probably part of the problem, but honestly, when I am on the go and I see something spontaneous that I don’t have time to pick up my DSLR and fiddle with the settings, I do appreciate the little iPhone camera.

    If Apple can make the camera even better, then more power to them. It just means I can have better pictures of eccentric people shopping in Walmart.

    I don’t like how the statement was phrased, but I’m not so….high and mighty (I’m not sure what term to use for that)…as to say “Well I never. How dare he make such a claim. Boycott!”

    I don’t use the iPhone to replace my DSLR or to make a compromise with my photography. I use it to take pictures of funny license plates and generic sunsets.

  • Mac

    When apple care and warranty is out… stip it and learn :) thats how i taught my self to fix mac’s. Downside as Export says, when in warranty YOU cant touch it… shame..

  • mac

    thats not meant to be a reply to btw David, why its done that i dont know.

  • Ballookey Klugeypop

    Jesus, are people just *looking* for reasons to get all hurt now?

    I work with several people who use Apple products. Of all of them, I’m the only one who knows how a camera works and how to solve photography problems. I can explain until I’m blue in the face about how they can correct their bad pictures, but the fact is, they don’t care. They’ve got companies to run, projects to manage, kids to tend to, etc… Honestly most of them don’t even care that they ARE bad pictures, much less recognize the possibility of improving them.

    To people like that, they don’t care how it works. If another manufacturer comes out with a mobile phone camera consistently takes better point & shoot photos, that’s the one they’re going to start buying. They don’t know why it does it, or how they could have improved their own photos on their own. They’re just buying the thing that does the work for them.

    If you’re a tinkerer, great. So am I! I like to learn things. But remember, other people have other priorities. If you’ve never worked closely with the myriad of people who aren’t like us, then do try to imagine they exist and don’t pretend a company doesn’t have any motivation to make products targeted to the larger audience.

    There was nothing vicious or negative in Schiller’s statement. Just stop it.

  • James Ogilvie


    Talk about a misleading story title. Apple didn’t say anything like what the headline suggests, and the authors interpretation of what was said is pretty far fetched.

    Will this phone take better photos than the previous models? Probably. And better qualifies as lower noise, sharper, perhaps better overall tonality. But any experienced photographer knows that technical proficiency does not compelling photography make.

    Two things are certain: photography technology of this type will always evolve, and sensationalist ‘sky is falling’ and ‘how dare they’ type headlines will continue to be generated when its all much ado about nothing.

  • Michael Clark

    Becker said that, not Friedl.

  • Will Mederski

    This is not a camera.
    This is a small computer.

    Why is everyone angry at a company for making a device that will fit the needs of 99% of it’s users, verses the 1% (us photogs) that want more control.

    Put down your computer and pick up your camera.

  • Paul Aguilar

    If everyone is through defending Apple, understand the jist of his comments were comments aimed at Apple users who care more about sexy than substance. The main issue everyone should be insulted by is the inference that the iphone camera is now so good people shouldn’t care about wasting their time trying to better their photos. All you need is this little camera and it will get you professional level photos by comparison. It’s horse manure and should be called for what it is, not defended.

  • Michael Clark

    Where does he say that his iPhone can take better pictures than the pro with all of the lights, gels, etc.? What he says is that being a pro, in terms of experience and gear, is way overkill for the vast majority of consumers that juts want to upload a photo of their meal before they eat it (apparently they think they’ll get food poisoning if they don’t).

  • lidocaineus

    Wait, what? A good chunk of OS X is based on open source. It comes with a built in Terminal for crying out loud, and I can SSH into it to diagnose a completely unresponsive machine. I can poke around in plists and text based config files, just like a standard Unix machine. This is out of the box. With Windows, half of it is buried in the arcane registry, some of it is in XML or INI-type files, and the rest is binary. The remote options are limited to RDP or using remote control tools.

    Macs are extremely customizable (especially if you have any Unix experience), but most people aren’t used to it because they’re used to the Windows way. I actually find poking around Windows WAY less intuitive.

  • Rabi Abonour

    That is not even remotely what he implied. His point was clearly not that the iPhone 5S lets to take professional photos, but that it lets someone with no interest in the art or craft of photos take a decent picture. There’s nothing offensive about that. He is saying parents should be able to get a decent-looking photo of their kids, not that professional photographers should be superannuated by phones.

  • Eugene Chok

    pffft like being a ceo is a ‘real job’

  • dudung10

    When he said “for most of US” he meant the general public whose greatest work is a selfie in the bathroom. Stop flamebaiting for hits David Becker.

  • Michael Clark

    If you actually read Schiller’s comments he makes it abundantly clear he thinks it is fine for pros to use whatever they want. He goes to great lengths to explain how the iPhone 5 helps everyone who is ‘not’ a pro to take better snapshots.

  • Michael Clark

    Read it again. He says all of that stuff (skill and gear) is fine for the pros. It is the regular consumer who doesn’t have the resources or inclination to do all of that who just wants to take a snapshot to whom he is appealing.

  • Michael Clark

    George sure made a pile off of saying it. Just because his great grandchildren couldn’t be as innovative and market as well as he did doesn’t mean he was mistaken.

  • Michael Clark

    Where did he say that? He didn’t. He said better than what the average consumer who doesn’t have the resources or desire to learn photography can do now. He didn’t even come close to saying as good as or better than the knowledgeable pro with the right tools.

  • mansky

    “The best camera is the one you have with you.” The arrogant folks are the ones who assume you have to buy expensive equipment and learn about “photography”. My students, and others’, create images based on what they see, not on what they can buy. Some of the most elegant and beautiful photos I have seen are pinhole pictures on black and white film taken by rank amateurs.

    If Apple makes it easy to capture images on a device that we still call a “phone”, so be it. The 35mm camera was considered an inferior device until dozens of artists created arresting images uniquely beautiful, or singular documentation. You can make a value judgement about Apple’s intent, but you can’t argue with the results of its choice.

  • msbook

    Please. It is far easier to maintain a Mac than a “pc”. PCs grind to a halt after a short time, and start their lives with junkware that only fairly experienced users know how to remove. A competent Mac person can narrow a problem as quickly, or faster, than a “Wintel” geek, and the Genius dude, if you live in a major population center, is free, and can usually and quickly reduce your problem to something that can be solved easily, or fixed for a fee. Everything in Windows NT is known, but there’s more than a decade of OS progress that makes that knowledge mostly useless.

  • Cultiva

    To be fair, they do offer a full-on UNIX terminal. Right out in the open, under Applications>Utilities.

  • rawhead

    I think the author is interpreting the comment incorrectly. Nowhere does Schiller say “stop learning” to people who are learning (=photographers). In fact he clearly states that people who like and want to learn, that is a great path to take. After that he points out a blatant truth; most people don’t like or want to learn how to take better pictures. They just point their camera and press the shutter. That’s why they buy point-and-shoots. That’s why they don’t even buy point-and-shoots anymore, but take all their photographs with smartphones. And thus, if the smartphone they use can take better pictures for them without them having to learn anything, those customers will be happier indeed. As a very serious photographer, I do not see anything inherently incorrect about this comment. The title and subtitle of the article is a clear misread, or worse, nothing but a flamebait.

  • Ralph Hightower

    Is this April Fool’s Day?
    Typical Apple arrogance! I’m not going to give up my SLRs for an iPhone. My 33 year old Canon A-1 is still more flexible than an iPhone.

  • KeeFyBeeFy

    Uhmmm.. mac is linux based.

    I used Windows, Mac and Linux everyday and it’s really not that hard to fix a mac if you understand linux.

    That said, mac has a lot of bloatware in the os to cater to normal users which is a tad bit irritating.

  • Rabi Abonour

    Better picture? No. Better snapshot? Arguably. If you give someone with zero photography experience a first-gen iPhone and an iPhone 5S, their photos will probably be more visually pleasing just because of the better camera.

  • Captain Obvious

    I see what you did there…

  • Dhaval Panchal

    Canon A-1s are AWESOME.

  • Sir_Elton_Juan

    Tech people with no photography bacground are so far removed from reality that now they think that a decent lens on a cell phone is all you need from here on, what is troublesome is that they actually believe it.

  • offtheback

    Apple=superb marketing.Gospel.Discussions about values are philosophical.

  • stevenbradford

    Yes, this is a unique comment , something like this has never happened before in photography. No company exec ever before told the public, “you click the shutter, we do the rest”.

  • Marko ‘Hälly’ Hämäläinen

    Is this a joke?

  • ksporry

    Yeah, so Apple just lost all their potential photographer customers to Samsung and HTC…
    Looks like their PR hasn’t realised their stock has dropped over 50% over the past year, and that with comments like these they managed to alienate even more people and companies…

  • Richard Lurie

    I looked at Apple’s site and found this nugget:
    “It just makes more sense to teach iPhone how to take a great picture rather than teach people how to be expert photographers.”

  • Richard Lurie

    Yeah, the Yahoo thing didn’t have Marissa Mayer pointing out that she wasn’t talking to pros. At least Schiller admits there are pros out there.

  • David

    When Apple plunks down multi-millions on their next print ad campaign shot with an iPhone, then I’ll listen. Until then…

  • aaronchuck

    You are wrongfully assigning photographers as the audience of his statement. He is speaking to people who have no interest in professional photography. And he is correct in his assessment that they should be able to take better pictures , if possible, without having all the gear. Granted the photo he put up of gear was silly, but so what. Stop taking everything ANYONE says about the subject of photography so personally.
    In a word, get a life people. Apple’s stance on this subject in no way makes them arrogant. Perhaps they are about other things, but none of your arguments are sound.
    Just shut up and make pictures. Do it better than someone else and you’ll have nothing to worry about. Use your voice to make whatever art you make not to continually bash a company that is obviously doing something right by pure virtue of their sales…and the fact that at least HALF of you doing the bashing probably own iPhones.

  • Jeramy

    For a world this is content with McDonalds as food and Reality TV as reality people are content with thinking of their phone as a professional camera. I was actually asked for advice about which new phone takes better pictures, I held a puzzled look on my face for several seconds before walking off silently.