Canadian Benjamin Plouffe’s days are usually spent as an art director in animation, but for one night, he was part of an international iPhone photo campaign.
On November 5th, 2016, Plouffe was one of many professional photographers across the globe enlisted by Apple for the tech giant’s annual “Shot on iPhone” campaign. The goal was to highlight the capabilities of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus’ low-light camera in a variety of diverse locations at nighttime, including Iceland, India, South Africa and Indonesia.
Plouffe, who was born near Montreal and now lives in South Korea, only started seriously getting into photography about three years ago. Since then, it’s offered him a unique opportunity to express himself creatively. “Photography is storytelling,” he told MobileSyrup. “[It’s] a way for me to tell stories in a different way than I would normally do at my day job.”
One of Plouffe’s pictures in the campaign, featuring his wife, posted on Instagram.
To do this, he would normally use a Sony DSLR, but during this campaign, he enjoyed working with an iPhone 7. The device’s larger ƒ/1.8 aperture allows up to 50 per cent more light to hit the camera’s sensor than the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. A sensor also helps the lenses counteract movements of various ranges, allowing for up to three-times-longer exposure compared to the 6s. New to iPhone 7 is the second 12MP telephoto lens on the back, which can be used to achieve 2× optical zoom and up to 10× digital zoom. Optical image stabilization also reduces blur associated with motion and handshake.
Initially, Plouffe realized that several of the other campaign photographers were shooting in urban areas with many lights and buildings, so he wanted to stand out by instead profiling a darker and less populated landscape. Therefore, he had to undergo an overnight shoot spanning three different rural areas close to Daejeon.
“My original plan was to try to shoot a variety of locations to show how beautiful the land of the morning calm can be from a foreigner living in Korea’s point of view,” he said. “I’m greatly influenced by movie cinematography and my background in animation storytelling is probably what drives many of the visuals you see in my pictures.”
There were some challenges in doing this, however. “Unfortunately, no matter how much planning you do, when it comes to outdoor photography, you’re at the mercy of weather conditions,” he said. “I did have a lot of specific shots I wanted to take but the weather was not on my side that night. A huge cloud of dust and fog set in pretty much right after sunset and it stayed there until after sunrise.”
As a result, he had to adjust his shoots and time constraints accordingly. “The shoot itself was really ‘run and gun,'” he admitted. “I had a list of shots I wanted to take and I tried to cross off as many as I could given the weather conditions and time constraints that I scheduled for each location.”
An Instagram photo posted by a follower of Plouffe’s showing off one of his pictures in a Korean transit station. Other images taken across the world in the campaign are featured here as well. Credit: youji (@youjidesigns).
In some ways, these complications even helped him from a creative point of view. “On the positive side, that fog really did help me create an atmosphere in my pictures I wouldn’t have been able to capture if it was a clear night outside,” he said.
His focus shifted from a broader tour of the landscape to a smaller and more personal one featuring his wife and dog. Despite these changes, he’s happy with the overall experience and the pictures that came out of it. “[The shoot] was ambitious, even though [it] didn’t go as planned, and I’m extremely happy with the results at the end of it,” he said. “I came away with pictures that had a more intimate feeling than I normally take.”
Toronto’s Jennifer Bin also took part in the campaign with photos of her current home of Shanghai.