On an out-of-town trip in 2007, Joel Grey found himself in a small St. Lucie, Florida museum, filled with bizarre and eminently photographable objects. Feeling, as he had with the images that became 2003’s Pictures I Had to Take, compelled to capture these provocative tableaux, but without his trusty Nikon Nikkormat by his side, Grey did the next-best thing he could—he reached for his cell phone.
Grey had never had any use for the camera function of his Nokia 133 before, and was skeptical about the capabilities of its tiny 1.3-megapixel lens. But to his surprise, the same familiar perspective he’d always had when taking photographs was still there; even without a viewfinder, he could make the kinds of pictures he had always loved to make. The limitations of the format—the inability to control the aperture stop, focus, or any of the other variables of traditional photography besides framing—proved a thrilling new challenge, which Grey likens to “collaborating with a power larger than yourself.” Grey spent the next eight months shooting with his phone, and the result is 1.3: Images from My Phone, a collection of slices cut from diverse visual worlds: street art and still life, advertising and architecture, shadows and reflections, natural beauty and urban grit.