Photo taken by Cole Ellison.

Photo of myself taken by Cole Ellison.

My freshman year at Syracuse has come to an end, and summer has begun.

VSCOIf you wanna catch up with what I’m working on VSCO is the place to go. Or my daily updated Instagram, but Instagram is well, gramish as usual. This post is partially a follow up to Month I, where I discussed how the iPhone (as much as I dislike that piece of crap), has opened my eyes. That opinion, has only gotten stronger. To me, photography has become about capturing a moment in time, a place, an environment, or the essence of a person. Moments can be provoked, or found, but regardless with my phone in hand I seek to expose life through a grittier digital medium. Something a little more raw, with the aura that noticeable digital pixels give you.


A day in Pleasure Bay.

I might even go as far to say that smartphones more accurately document this era, because of the fact that they have been so extensively integrated into global culture. Everyone constantly holds a smartphone, or some kind of phone that can take pictures. That being said, everyone has their own philosophy and process, mine just happens to include exploring the world with a small, simple, low res camera. More importantly, many of my images on VSCO could have never been shot with any other camera other than a smartphone.

Subway Life.

Afternoon with Kylie.

Walking through Fort Point.

Some might say going from 1950s analog cameras, rangefinders, to the FM2, to a modern DSLR, and then to the . . . iPhone, is a huge step backwards. That may be so, but exploration is learning. Learning is progression.

Squares Promo

Squares. This film was my final project for my spring semester, and served as another experimentation for pushing the limits of narrative–seeing what the audience can take away from such a blunt, and at times two-dimensional film.

While I currently work at Elevin Studios, in South Boston, making a commercial documentary series for Eric Levin, experimental narrative film is where I hope to go in my future journeys. Click the cover image above to see the film, or visit my vimeo page here–enjoy! Until next time.


Month 1.

Today roughly marks the day that I have been in the smartphone world for one month. Back in december I received one as a gift–and at the least, this gift has opened my eyes. I’ve made it clear through my voiced opinions, in some my video work, that I am partial to smartphones. That mentality hasn’t changed entirely, but it’s changed enough to write about it. That change can be summed up in two words: the camera.

2:32. © Eliot J Grigo

2:32. © Eliot J Grigo

Cameras on smartphones, in the past year, have made an enormous leap–including the technology with editing on smartphones. Apps such as Afterlight, VSCOcam, and many others have allowed pretty much anybody to make their photos look better. I’m not saying photography is dead, or that smartphones have taken over the world of photography–they clearly haven’t. That being said, they have changed the game, and they provide valuable lessons even for pro DSLR shooters.

Structure of Self. © Eliot J Grigo

Structure of Self. © Eliot J Grigo

My work is gradually moving more into the film world, but every now and then I still take on a photo project. Now with a smartphone in my pocket, my eagerness to grab a hefty DSLR and lenses diminishes (depending on whether I have a client or not). Why? Because I have found that a smartphone camera can “re-open” a photographer’s eyes–especially a portrait photographer.


Destiny. © Eliot J Grigo

A phone camera comes with a few challenges. First, the resolution is by no means close to DSLR standards, so “zooming in” on a smartphone is a poor choice, because it degrades the quality that you’re fighting for. So, you’re left with an ultra-wide lens without a great capacity for shallow depth-of-field. Second, the dynamic range is pretty weak because of the sensor’s size, meaning you can lose a lot of detail in the shadows and highlights. Lastly, it’s easy to shoot too much with a smartphone–what you had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is not necessarily relevant to anyone but yourself–but it’s easy to fall into the over-shooting-trap because your phone is your life companion.

photo 1

13 Pearl. © Eliot J Grigo

13 Pearl. © Eliot J Grigo

How can you shape the structures around your subject to captivate a viewer who’s scrolling through newsfeed after newsfeed? My point is, intriguing images can be taken with a smartphone, but using a limited tool requires adjusting your eye, and becoming even more sensitive to composition and subject matter.

Nick. © Eliot J Grigo

Nick. © Eliot J Grigo

The Tunnel. © Eliot J Grigo

The Tunnel. © Eliot J Grigo

I’m not saying my phone is my favorite camera of all time, and I’m not going to sell my DSLR and shoot exclusively phone photography. I’m just a firm believer in the idea that the best camera is the one with you. Regardless of whether you like images from smartphones, they are great tools for scouting, planning future shoots, and testing shooting situations. If you wish to continue to follow my work with the iPhone, follow my Instagram here, or below.



Room W. © Eliot J Grigo

Room W. © Eliot J Grigo


This film was shot for Studio Concepts class at Syracuse University, taught by Robyn Tomlin. To view the complete video, click here. Feel free to comment, and share your thoughts of the film. To find out more about the sound design of the piece visit my audio website and click here.

The film was shot in Peekskill, and Syracuse, New York.

In a recently made short video of mine, I explore the concept of how smartphones have social impacts in everyday life. For further explanation on my ideas, read the paragraph below the image–if you would like to watch the short first, click the links or image below.

iSolation. © Eliot J Grigo 2013

iSolation from Eliot Grigo on Vimeo.

We live in a world ruled by its man-made products. The phenomenon of using a smartphone, and having it by your side all of the time, is becoming worrying. In a public setting, if someone is “old-fashioned”, doesn’t own a smartphone, or even simply looking for someone to talk to, they will notice what I mean by this phenomenon being worrying.  When everyone is dissolved into their “my-screen-is-bigger” screens, its as if everyone is alone, even though in this growing world we are surrounded by so many people.

This short film is a true story. These events did happen to me on a bus–yes–in a slightly different way but I’m also willing to bet that’s its a true story for many people. You’re waiting with a group of people for checkout, waiting in a laundromat, flying on an airplane, riding in an elevator–people tune out from you and everyone around them while they tap away at their phones. To me, its a problem, as I hope is clear in the short, where my character chooses to conform and tune out.

The sad truth of it all, is that we all still want to connect–’we never want to be alone’, as Louis C.K. puts it during an interview on Conan. My take on this is that we are not totally “tuned-out”, but just out of sync, and that causes us to become isolated. In my short there is a miscommunication between my character on a bus, and a girl that he tries to communicate directly with; they miss each other, and continue with their lives.

During iSolation when two characters on the bus (played by Eliot Grigo on the left, and Dia Matthews on the right) miss each other’s glance.

What do humans do now? Now that you can’t turn a corner without seeing someone with a slate of aluminum in their hands, what do we do? Have we integrated this technology too closely to our lives–are smartphones playing too big a role? Are they not a problem at all? Please feel free to comment on these questions. Lastly, thanks to all that helped in the creation of this video, and the irony of it all is that you’re probably reading this on your phone while surrounded by other people with phones.


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