This moment was “uncapturable.” On the border of Oregon and California, the fog was rolling and there was a red schoolhouse in a field, and then a herd of elk showed up.

The Poor Man’s Photography

I don’t have a Canon but I still want to take pictures


I’ve always liked exploring new activities — from poetry to public speaking, mountain biking to swimming, golf to, in this case, photography. I also happen to not have a lot of extra money to spend, being a high school student, which means that when I show up to my local golf course with my Goodwill clubs or ride my mountain bike on the street, I get the stares, and occasionally, the “advice” to invest in some proper equipment (usually said in a “I can’t believe you would dare come here without investing two hundred dollars in a proper driver”).

And then I opened up an Instagram, and I decided I didn’t want to use it like Facebook, filling it up with pictures of birthdays and hang outs, rather, I wanted to get into photography.

I have the same situation with photography as I do with most other activities I try out. But I honestly cannot in my right mind spend what little money I have on a thousand dollar DSLR camera that takes oh-so-amazing pictures for my Instagram feed.

The Tacoma Zoo has access to the bay nearby, where I came across this staircase leading into the water. Seemed artsy enough, so I snapped a picture.
My fellow partner in crime. Downtown Portland served us well for our weirdness.

I still want to take pictures of things that interest me, however, and I do. And I use my phone. It’s not even an iPhone, mind you. It’s a OnePlus One (you probably haven’t even heard of it), and all it has is a 13.0 megapixel camera on the front. No laser focus, no optical zoom, nothing. Editing? I don’t have photoshop. Snapseed and VSCOcam.

Yeah, you photographers are probably cringing.

But I honestly don’t care, I enjoy taking pictures, and even if people ask me what equipment I’m using and I have to respond “it’s a secret ;)”, I’m going to continue doing what I enjoy, how I enjoy it.

But I think I do pretty alright, considering all I’m using is my phone.

Here are some of my favorites:

A view of an intersection in Portland from a parking garage next to Pioneer Place.
The Hawthorne district has a ton of little coffee shops that serve some excellent coffee. This one, Palio Dessert and Espresso, is one of my favorites, and provided a great locale for some exciting chess matches.
Not sure what this building was called, but it’s in Downtown Seattle and the sky was particularly clear that day. I loved how the reflection of the clouds on the window showed up and the feeling of smallness I got from staring at it.
“Stand here, point my phone that way, and snap a bunch of pictures as I run down” was what I told my brother on a beach next to Brookings, Oregon.
I had my good friend Arthur Dunn snap this as we were hiking up. The rain was coming down and the clouds were particularly low, creating a dark and frosty aura over the Columbia Gorge.
The Bridge of the Gods at Cascade Locks. The sun was coming down and it made the sky look like it was set afire. Out comes the phone.
The sky started clearing up, and that rock looked particularly picture worthy.
One of my favorite quotes by C.S. Lewis. The wind was blowing hard and as soon as I snapped this the paper flew away.

I may not have equipment, and I probably could do hundreds of times better with a DSLR, but it’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m just trying to have a good time here, and there’s no need to look down on me because I happen to do it with my crappy phone.

That said, I would welcome and appreciate constructive criticism on what I can change, that is, the photography itself. Ability is only as good as the work you put into it.

Look, I’m no Kyle Houck, but I do enjoy snapping some pics.

And snap them I will.

I biked 42 miles and had a steep 900 foot hill to climb to catch this picture. Downtown Portland as seen from Pittock mansion.

Follow Vantage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If you enjoyed reading this, please click “Recommend” below. This will help to share the story with others.