These days I rely on my phone for the time, I try to remember my watch but don't worry overmuch if I forget it; increasingly I've noticed that I am doing the same with my camera. It seems that after only ten years of manufacture the mobile phone camera has all but superceded the domestic camera (and the watch).
For domestic photographers ease of use and good enough are all that is required and the global user base of mobile phone users have already decided the future of the domestic camera and it lies with the current range of camera phones whose microchip controlled point and shoot have a picture quality adequate for making an A3 colour page and where ease of use is simply a given.
Candid reportage photography began with the arrival of the 35mm miniature Leica camera, and like it's predecessor the camera phone has excelled as the nightmare stalker of private lives and guilty parties. Domestic photography can be characterised as personal, often intimate and usually consensual, but the personal snapshots by US soldiers taken in Abu Ghraib prison were an early demonstration of how private phone pictures could also be relied upon as evidence for criminal prosecutions in the highest judicial courts.
The cultural implications are interesting but there is also an archival question.
While the first uses of digital photography were for micro and astrophotography, the digital revolution was also seen as the savior of classical chemical photography, which had earlier been declared doomed to irreversible chemical decay with an estimated half life, for all the archives of the history of photography, measured in centuries.
Domestic photography has also shared in this ultimate stability, but ironically I suspect that the domestic record will for other reasons be historically short. Snapshots will no longer be stuffed into shoe boxes, find their way to storage and eventual rediscovery, instead the new digital picture files will probably have the same half life as the user's hard drive, measured in decades at best.
Perhaps there is no great loss here and environmentally the saving of all that plastic,paper and silver can only be a good thing, but nonetheless the loss of those shiny little picture memories which we can rediscover, paste in an album, prop on a shelf or pin to a board is a loss I still have difficulty adjusting to.
Perhaps in compensation for this short practical life is the new immediacy with which people share their snapshots, no longer kept at home in a box or cupboard, they are carried with the phone for showing on the bus, train or plane and alongside this sharing is the giving of snapshots, now transformed by their "sending" where the list of recipients of pictures of newborns, birthdays, marriages and deaths is only limited by an address book.
Maholy-Nagy, one of the most visionary of twentieth century artists, remarked that "the illiterate of the future will be those who can not use a camera". Today the camera phone offers the most democratic picture making tool in the history of photography and while requiring no more than a couple of keyboard strokes to take a picture, we still struggle for universal literacy.