Professional photographers Stephen Wilkes and Reuben Wu had early access to the brand-new iPhone model, due out Friday, for their creative projects
The much-anticipated iPhone 15 series will be available to the public Friday, but two renowned professional photographers got a sneak peek of the device — and PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at their images.
"I think it's a really great upgrade in terms of the image quality,” says Stephen Wilkes, who used the new iPhone 15 Pro Max for his photographic series, The Endless Summer. “To be able to have prints that look like the way these do at that scale [and] captured from a phone is an amazing thing.”
Wilkes’ The Endless Summer captures the natural beauty of Block Island in Rhode Island, a place that is special in his heart.
“Especially in summer, it just has these beautiful beaches, dunes and topography,” he says of Block Island. “To me, that's iconic summer. And so what I was trying to do was, I thought it'd be really beautiful to take this new device and capture that type of flavor, that kind of energy.”
Meanwhile, fellow photographer Reuben Wu used the phone for his series, The Inner Landscape.
"My approach to photography shows familiar scenes under an unfamiliar light, capturing a unique and never witnessed before point of view," says Wu. "The Inner Landscape is a series of unearthly desert landscapes in Southern Utah, exploring minimal compositions which feel more intimate than epic, more ambiguous than explicit, to produce a body of work that feels cohesive through its sense of connection and psychological space.”
Wilkes' photos are above, and Wu's photos are below.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max was unveiled on Sept. 12, along with the new iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 15 Pro at Apple’s "Wonderlust" event in Cupertino, Calif. Both the 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max carry an A17 bionic chip that will make the phone perform faster.
Per an Apple news release, the Pro models "offers the very best of Apple innovations, featuring a strong and lightweight titanium design with new contoured edges, a new customizable Action button, and Roadside Assistance via satellite."
The company also said the advanced camera systems of the 15 Pro and the 15 Pro Max models “both pack the equivalent of seven pro lenses — all enabled by A17 Pro.” There is also a 24MP (megapixels) default feature on the 48MP main camera, offering significant image quality at a "practical file size" suitable for storing and sharing, Apple added.
Wilkes, of Westport, Connecticut, is known for depicting epic scenes that also feature a touch of humanity.
“One of the things I tried to do with this work was capture people in context and scale, not just a figurative element, but their actual really special moments," he says. "I feel very proud about that. The idea that you're shooting with a little phone that you could actually capture like a decisive moment with that is really exciting to me, too.”
A feature of the main camera function on the phone, said Apple, is the ability for the user to switch between different focal lengths: 24 mm, 28 mm and 35 mm. (Along with the main camera, the phone also sports improved Focus and Depth Control, Night mode, Smart HDR and an optical zoom of 5x at 120 mm). It's a feature that appealed to Wilkes when he used the Pro Max. “I really love that feature. I mean, 24 mm is great, but sometimes it pushes things away from you a little bit. So it's nice to be able to have a lens that you can push in slightly.”
“I loved the 120 mm lens because I found that it was its own individual lens,” Wilkes adds. “I could see the brightness of it. I could see the clarity of it very quickly when you see the image come on the screen."
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Wilkes’ tip for anyone using the phone is to keep its camera function focused on one lens starting with 24mm and then gradually work up to 35mm, and “ teach yourself how each one of those lenses sees.
"I think that's a great tool… what happens is every time you pull out the phone, your eye is already now sort of integrated with the way the camera is framing based on whatever you're shooting at," he shares.
The new iPhone 15 series, including the Pro and the Pro Max, will be available beginning this Friday and in the following colors and finishes: black titanium, white titanium, blue titanium and natural titanium. The prices for the 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max start at $999 and $1,199, respectively.
“I think it gives people an opportunity to create very scalable art in a very beautiful way so you're never at a deficit,” Wilkes adds of the device. “If you have your phone with you, you can make a picture and have a photograph that actually is something that you could hang on your wall. As a photographer and an artist, it's a great thing to be able to have a tool that's always with you like that.”
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