Pro Photography on a Budget: Can you make more money shooting with your iPhone than your DSLR camera?

2016 saw the biggest jump in camera quality for the iPhone, and the iPhone 7 Plus made almost every photographer's mouth water. It didn't matter if you were a pro or just someone who liked to take nice pictures – the camera was amazing, the photos it took were beautiful, and the price was MUCH lower than your standard DSLR

The double camera aside, features like portrait mode and even just simple black and white shots made the iPhone 7 Plus look like a DSLR and then some, which made it all the more impressive that sports and event photographer Brad Mangin claims he made more money shooting events with his iPhone than his DSLR cameras.

2016 ended in a most fitting fashion for the new way I am trying to earn a living as a freelance photographer. On December 27, I was on Montara Beach photographing a college volleyball player on assignment for Volleyball USA magazine. The big story here? I was shooting the entire assignment with my iPhone 7 Plus.

Mangin details how liberating and freeing it was to simply shoot and edit on the iPhone without the extra bulky equipment. He agrees at one event that he wouldn't even bring his Canon cameras: just his iPhone 7 Plus.

My iPhone was not a gimmick. It was a real tool that allowed me to make great pictures that could be delivered in a timely manner to help the TOUR get images from the event out to the world. My iPhone also allowed me to go behind the scenes and bring the fans following the TOUR on social media closer to the players. Because I am not loaded down with big and loud SLR cameras, the players, caddies, and everyone else around the game of golf is much more relaxed around me when I shoot with my iPhone.

The photos he took at the events he shot were beautiful, and you can check out a number of them down below, but this raises a question: is iPhone photography slowly taking over DSLR photography? Do you think that in the next few years, everyone will be shooting on their iPhone, ditching their Canons and Nikon's by the side? Or do you think there will always be a place for DSLR photography?

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Cella writes for iMore on social and photography. She's a true crime enthusiast, bestselling horror author, lipstick collector, buzzkill, and Sicilian. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @hellorousseau

15 Comments
  • Apple has improved the camera but I would never ditch my DSLR. It's more like a convenience for most since you can just take your phone out and snap whatever you see.
  • If he tried the Windows phone, Lumia 950 XL, he won't say that......
  • You can just as easily replace Lumia with any number of other devices. The iPhone 7 camera is the best camera on iPhone, but the smartphone camera space is so good right now, it's decidedly average against its competitors.
  • Yeah, right. Dream on... Sent from the iMore App
  • 1. All but one of those shots are outside with significant ambient light. For all the improvements made at low-light for smartphones, entry level DSLRs are still better.
    2. Using "pro" anyone as an example of reality is silly. Just for giggles, go watch some "Pro Photographer, Cheap Camera Challenge" on youtube. My favorite is the Barbie toy camera photoshoot. "Pros" can make cameras dance in a way that would get 99% good shots with pure skill whereas anyone else would get 1% only by pure luck. That said, the goal of the improving technology is partially to automate the things that are often manual and partially to compensate for a lack of skills or knowledge in an area. The newest smartphones are all trying to push these goals as far as they can as fast as they can, and I think they are doing EXCELLENT work with high quality. The trick though, is that great photography (or just about anything) requires the skills to turn off the automation and make the *perfect* shot when the conditions suck or when the automation wants to do something that you don't want it to do. https://t.co/YhOjBNytmd An amateur (like me) can use an app like ProShot and some serious editing work to get a shot just right, or use a decent DSLR with a couple manual settings and the only thing I did was crop it.
  • Well said.
  • You're never going to get DSLR quality pictures with a small cell phone sensor and the lack of "glass". They are good, but DSLR replacement, doubtful
  • Good Pictures?? To bad they are not there to see ??
  • Photos on tech crunch were so so. He's obviously a Canon fanboy and obviously iPhone fanboy, Nikon has had snapbridge for ages now, so to be paid to do this and ignore use of proper tools is totally unprofessional
  • Ironically, these photos are not loading on my iPhone 7 Plus...
  • Use the iMore website instead of the app, the app is a bit broken
  • I don't have the app. The photos don't load on my phone in Safari, nor on my Mac.
  • I like that he didn't have to bring a camera, camera bag, extra lenses, SD card and card reader with appropriate cords, and a laptop with editing software to get his work done during and after shooting. That's a lot of equipment he can leave behind and bring just his iPhone that can do all those things in one device. With this kind of lightweight versatility of bringing just an iPhone and using its camera(s), internal storage, editing software and its ability to post to social media instantly, does it matter if it's not exactly as good or better than DSLR's? PC's have been on the decline since the introduction to smaller and lightweight smart phones and tablets. The lack of professional software, ports and desktop-class power is not as important when put up against versatility and portability. We all know that the best camera is the one you have with you, and if that one is on our iPhone, then that opens up so many doors for people who don't have all the expensive equipment listed above.
  • Apple is closing this gap, but i don't beleve there will ever come a time where smrtphones will replace professional DSLR's, perrhaps the basic ones more and more, but it will always be the basic ones... it will never replace the bestones because a smart phone will never have the same optics as as pro DSLR. etc Nikon D750 has 24.3 Megapixels, color depth or even the ISO can't be beast in a smart phone. You could replace a basic camera,
  • I own an iPhone 7 Plus and a Nikon D7200 with a $600 18-300mm lens. Which do you think is better? The fact that we're having this conversation is a tribute to how far camera phones have come. With its 12mp sensor and its dual-lens optics, the iPhone produces amazing pics - for a camera phone. In some situations, it's all you really need and all you're likely to get. If you know what to look for - subject, composition, lighting - you can take some great pics on an iPhone. But putting a Honda Odyssey engine in a Honda Civic doesn't make it a Porsche. The Nikon gives you control over shutter speed, ISO and aperture. It has a much bigger, 24mp sensor. It attaches to some of the finest ground glass money can buy. You can't put it in your pocket but it's worth lugging around. The pics it takes are breathtaking. When you have greater control of the focal point, you can narrow the depth of field and make light dance where you want it. Pics can end up with an almost 3D feel to them. Brad Mangin's pics are terrific but they're not a good test of the camera. They're a testament to the photographer, who knew how to compose a compelling shot, take advantage of ambient lighting and then use filters and apps to enhance the image. In each case, depth of field was not a critical part of the pic. In fact, all of these pics are flat. Everything is in focus. Brad uses lighting and lines to lead the eye. Without dynamic contrasts in lighting, and the use of filtering apps to sometimes saturate the color, these pics would feel flatter than they do. Certain types of shots can be shot with anything, as long as you shoot the right subject, from the right angle, with the right lighting and depth of field doesn't matter. A good photographer knows how to get the most out of a given situation. Editing is also a godsend. But if you're going to take shots, why not take them with the best camera using the best lens? The idea that DSLRs are just too heavy is hype. To be sure, they're heavier than an iPhone but this isn't weight-lifting. We're talking about a few pounds. The idea that you have to lug around a bunch of lenses is also bogus. You only need the kind of lens that fits the type of photography you're doing. If it's portraits, there are 55mm lenses that will make you cry. In settings where you need a wider angle, 18-55mm lenses work like a charm. A good telephoto lens ranges from 70-300mm. For the sake of versatility, I bought a lens that goes from 18-300mm. Zooming out, it provides a slightly wider angle than the iPhone. Zooming in, it gives me more reach - by a hair. What makes it truly superior is the fact that we're talking about optics, not digital cropping of the image. It's clear and beautiful from one end to the other. The lighting is better. The depth of field is better. The color is better. It's just a better pic - and that's before we run the images through a filter. A good photographer can get the most out of any camera. The iPhone 7 Plus is about as good a smartphone camera as you're going to get. But I don't see a reason for professionals to throw away their DSLRs - just so they can brag that they sold a pic they took on an iPhone. It's a little bit like filmmakers claiming they shot their first feature for $6,000. While it's impressive to think you could have pulled that off, why would you make your next film on equipment you picked up at a garage sale?