The Prick with the Stick

Now the kids are back at school the summer is officially over. I’ve just returned from my annual summer break, a relaxing beach holiday abroad. However, despite enjoying sunny weather and local cuisine, to my horror I discovered that a certain accessory has become extremely popular with tourists, one they insist on carrying everywhere they go. You can spot a tourist a mile off based on a few key observations. Rucksacks, bum bags and cameras are an obvious giveaway, but nowadays you don’t even have to be up close to spot a tourist as they make themselves visible in crowds by holding aloft a metal rod with a phone attached to the end. Yes, it’s the prick with the ‘selfie stick’, and you’ll also find he’s invariably wearing a bum bag and a rucksack.

The obsession with selfies, matched with enormous improvements in phone camera technology over the last few years has seen many of us dispense with cumbersome DSLR cameras during holidays, weekend breaks or business trips. The trademark of the international traveller nowadays is the selfie stick. OK, I’m generalising, but the selfie stick has become a phenomenon in its own right. You see executives sporting them at trade shows, tourists using them to take snaps in London and now European Holiday destinations are awash with the bloody things.

Silly sticks aside, camera phone accessories have become a serious business driven by the functionality and performance that smartphone cameras now provide, they are equally adept at taking quality photos or filming. Apple has led the way in recent years, particularly with the introduction of the iPhone 6 models that provide users with a camera that delivers improved focus and digital image stabilisation. This, combined with iOS updates has resulted in cleaner, sharper and higher quality image resolution. So much so that smartphones are beginning to replace DSLR cameras in professional circles. It’s become accepted practice now to use camera phones to film and record media interviews and this trend is now creeping into more areas of corporate life. For example, here at Babel we will happily mount an iPhone or Android equivalent on a tripod to film media training sessions with clients. The recording process is simple and flexible, plus videos can be shared instantly with clients for feedback or posterity. We use the same practice for staff training sessions, graduate days and other group activity. Although we don’t put job candidates on the spot to film them during an interview, we’re not that cruel (usually).

Going back to my point about accessories, the market for professional smartphone holders, mounts and tripods is growing. This type of equipment is no longer the domain of the professional photographer or the budding amateur. Smartphone cameras have transformed us all into photographers, film directors and editors. The recent collaboration between Apple and Adobe will also provide additional Photoshop-like capabilities for iOS users across iPhone and iPad.

In light of all these developments, it’s a shame that the most visible camera phone accessory, for now at least, is the bloody selfie stick.

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