I have an awesome sister who gifted us a DSLR when we got married a couple years back, and it’s one of the things that you could argue is not really a design or crafting tool, but I’m going to make a case for it.
I got my first digital camera in college when I convinced my parents that I NEEDED one for my architecture studio classes. How else was I supposed to take pictures of my intricate basswood models creating interesting shadows on the sidewalk? Really, though, I think documentation is a large component in the process of design. When you’re documenting your project and looking at it through the lens of a camera, you see your project in a more objective manner. You can more clearly see all the areas in which you did well, and all the areas that needed improvement. It also helps to have a physical record of all your work once the work has been given away, tossed in the trash, or destroyed. And as you collect more work, you’ll start to see your growth and development in your design style.
On the other end, a digital camera is essential in the beginning stages of a project when you’re searching high and low for that perfect source of inspiration that’s going to be your next big thing. Inspiration never comes when it’s supposed to, so you always have to be ready to capture it immediately when you happen to come across it. A sketchbook is great, but nothing is quicker and easier than snapping a quick photo of an object that you want to keep in your inspiration bank to pull out later on.
All that being said, you definitely don’t need a fancy, expensive camera to do any of this at all. Honestly, since I’ve gotten my iPhone, it’s replaced my small digital camera that I used to keep in my purse at all times, and I hardly ever take my SLR with me anywhere anymore. I use my SLR solely for documentation and taking pics for this blog. But when I’m out and about, my iPhone serves me perfectly as a quick snap and go camera. (Btw, has anybody seen the camera on the new iPhone 4s? It’s AMAZING! Plus, check out these nifty lens attachments for your camera phone!! I’ve been hinting to Dean about these because Christmas is coming up… :D)