Going Mobile: How One Photographer Has Found Success While Switching Between Her DSLR & iPhone

Susan Ford Collins wasn’t looking for a picture when she happened on this array of moss and lichens, but with her iPhone instantly available she wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity. All photos © Susan Ford Collins

For a long time, the photographs Susan Ford Collins posted to Flickr were taken with her DSLRs. Her favorite subjects were flowers; travel photos, people, landscapes, and various large and small wildlife filled out the photostream and the albums.

When she got her first iPhone, Collins says she thought “maybe there was a possibility” she would use it for photography when she traveled. As it turned out, it didn’t take long for her to overcome the hesitancy of “maybe” and “possibility.”

“I used it much more than I ever expected,” she reports. She began posting the phone photos to Flickr, and after a while she found they were as well accepted as her DSLR images. “All of a sudden I started getting a lot of explores, and I realized, Hey, I haven’t compromised my quality here.” (An “explore” is an image Flickr posts to its Explore page as a photograph worthy of additional interest.)

“I walked into my yard and the green edging around the coleus leaves caught my eye,” Collins says of this very-close-to-home photo.

This was good news for Collins, as it meant she might not have to take her DSLRs everywhere in order to get good pictures. But it took a while for her to get entirely comfortable with that idea. “At first I carried the iPhone and the other cameras,” she says. “Or I’d see something wonderful, take it with the iPhone, then run home, get the big camera, come back, and take the shot with it.”

She still shoots with her DSLRs, but the truth is she feels she gets a lot more good photos these days simply because she’s got the phone with her all the time. “I used to miss shots because I didn’t have the big camera with me. Now there are lots of opportunities to take more shots.”

Along the way to those opportunities she learned how to deal with the limitations of the phone’s camera. “You kind of figure out that the lighting with the phone is different than with the DSLRs, but I’m to the point where I’ve figured out how to use the phone to get what I want.”

Solandra grandiflora is commonly known as the chalice vine for its large bell- or chalice-shaped flowers. “I always put up information about the flowers,” Collins says. “I have good sources and I’m a good researcher, and I feel I have a responsibility to share as much information as I can.”

Home and Away
For Collins, photography is a way to document her travels, explore her interests, and share her enthusiasms. She especially enjoys sharing—and benefiting from the network of Flickr followers. “The exciting part is I’ll put up a shot of an unknown flower or plant and ask for ID help, and within 15 minutes I get the identification. I’ve had responses from Singapore, from Bangladesh—I was astounded by the kind of info I got in five or 10 minutes from all over the world.”

There’s also a commercial aspect to Collins’s photography and the sharing of images.

An author, lecturer, and consultant, Collins says she spent 20 years “shadowing some of the greats on the planet and discovered the skills they were using.” Her business is presenting those skills to management of major corporations around the world. CNN has called her “America’s premier success and leadership coach,” and photography and social media play significant roles in her work.

Water lilies, torn leaves, and reflections at the bottom of Collins’s waterfall.

She sends Flickr links to people she’s met on her travels so they can see the pictures she’s taken of them, their cities and countries, and also photos of her city. “I can share my home and who I am, and what I’m all about,” she says. “It’s an intimate thing to show people what your home is like after you’ve visited with them. You meet with people, you talk, and then sending pictures reinforces your message. It helps you keep in contact, and it bonds people to you, and keeps you connected. You’re remembered, and your business becomes personable. That makes photography a big part of what I do in the world.”

And it plays a big part in her balance of business and pleasure. “Writing is a lonely, solitary enterprise,” she says. “It may be two years that I’m working on a manuscript, and I’m getting up at four o’clock in the morning and working for hours, and it can be very isolating. So to go out and take pictures and have this outreach on Flickr reconnects me with nature, with people, with beauty.”

A corn plant Collins found blooming in her driveway. This photo and all the others here were taken with her iPhone 7 Plus.

As she puts it at the site, “Flickr keeps me sane and happy while I’m writing books and seeing clients.”

Google “Susan Ford Collins Flickr” to link to the full range of her photography. The business side of the life scale is at technologyofsuccess.com.