Cult of Mac’s Photo Famous series introduces you to the groundbreaking photographers featured in Apple’s “Shot on iPhone 6” ad campaign.
Jen Pollack Bianco traveled with her usual DSLR equipment — all 26 pounds of it — but when the time came to go on an elephant safari, she left the heavy gear behind. This was a bold choice, considering such encounters rarely happen more than once in a lifetime.
The travel blogger carried her new iPhone 6 and the camera inside proved it could handle a charging elephant.
Pollack Bianco’s black-and-white image of the defensive juvenile elephant was among the photos selected by Apple to grace billboards and glossy magazine ads for the “Shot on iPhone 6” campaign. Apple mined social media for the iPhone 6 hashtag to select photos that could show off the camera’s improved capabilities. They selected from professionals and hobbyists alike, and somehow caught up with the self-proclaimed gypsy, who has a sizable following on Instagram, Twitter and her travel blog, My Life’s a Trip.
Pollack Bianco, who also had a color shot from the same safari featured in the advertising campaign, spends half the year living out of a suitcase. She thoroughly documents her off-beat excursions on her blog, which she says gets 30,000 pageviews each month, as a way of alleviating fears people may have about travel. If something goes wrong, it gives her something to write about.
“If you’re looking for luxury, to me there’s nothing more luxurious than a well-placed hammock,” the Seattle-based writer/photographer told Cult of Mac on the eve of a trip to Italy. “My philosophy is to encourage people to say yes to travel, rather than look at the reasons why they can’t travel.”
Globetrotters like Pollack Bianco are a close-knit group who find each other thanks to social media, which is viewed as a critical source of tips and information. Pollack Bianco sees mobile photography as a perfect tool to inform and inspire.
More and more, the iPhone grabs the lion’s share — or in this case, the elephant’s share — of the photo work for her blog and contributions to publications like the Huffington Post. Her work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. Her blog My Life’s a Trip was cited as best new travel blog for 2011. She has also won awards in mobile photography competitions.
One of iPhone’s greatest values, Pollack Bianco said, is that using it allows her to see and enjoy the experience while photographing in ways she can’t when her face is hidden behind a conventional camera.
“I can’t say that would be the case shooting through a 300 mm lens,” she said, highlighting the way a large camera can disconnect you from a scene. “Your memory becomes shooting the thing through the lens. (For the elephant shot), I remember what the elephant felt like.”
When Myanmar opened its borders for travel, Pollack Bianco went in search of a good experience to share with her readers and, in doing so, discovered a social aspect of the iPhone (she was using the 4s at the time) that allowed her to have a unique interaction with people.
“There were very authentic people who live in a traditional way and they didn’t have smartphones at the time,” she said. “I got some great photos on the train and I could share them right away. One woman thought the phone was magic. I was sitting next to a woman and her daughter, and when I showed them the pictures, they would giggle. It was a very sweet moment and the pictures conveyed more than words could.
“My experience was so much richer because I was interacting with people over this technology.”
Pollack Bianco always loved travel and was known by family and friends as the girl with the camera. She was a producer in the entertainment industry (she is a University of Southern California film grad) when the travel blogging happened as a result of her maximizing frequent flyer miles.
She began writing around 1999 as the travel industry ramped up online publishing and brands started searching for content from experienced writers and photographers. At first, the blog was a way for her family and friends to keep track of her travels. The audience grew from there.
Pollack Bianco calls herself a travel addict with no intention of entering recovery. She admits she hasn’t had a vacation since she began this accidental career.