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Doctoral Research

An Analysis of Smartphone Camera and Digital Camera Images Captured by 

Adolescents Ages Fifteen to Seventeen

Background to Problem:

  • Using a dedicated camera has become less popular due to size and inconvenience of carrying extra equipment

  • Many argue there is no difference between capturing with a smartphone camera versus a digital camera (either DSLR or point and shoot)

  • As a photography educator – difficult to decipher between images captured between the two devices

  • As a photographer – I shoot differently between the two devices.


Research Question

Given that teenagers, now use their smartphone in lieu of a dedicated camera, how and in what ways are images captured between the two devices the same or different from one another. Specifically in the areas of content, processing time and quality and how might art educators modify their curricula to account for these findings.

Sub Questions

  1. How and in what ways are the processing time and photographic intentionality different from one another when using a smartphone camera vs. a dedicated digital camera for a teenager in a high school photography class?


   2. How is image quality and judgment in the areas of composition, vantage point, and light quality different with a smartphone camera compared with a “traditional” digital camera?


   3.How is image content different using a smartphone camera versus a traditional digital camera for a teenager?


   4. By looking at particular themes and subject matter captured by adolescents with their smartphone cameras, what might we learn about them?


Educational Implications/Expectations

  • Insight – Outcomes of research will hopefully offer information into current digital photographic practices by teenagers. Educators need to be open to ways teenagers choose to capture/share their images.

  • Aid in Discourse – Our relationship with photography has changed/what teenagers think makes a good photograph.

  • School Administration – Research will aim to promote relevancy in art program

  • Changing Curricula – New photographic pedagogy should be established to accommodate for smartphone photography.

  • Related Studies – Complement other similar studies (very few) and provide foundation for further related research.

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