Phone photography – What I learned shooting on a phone 6 months


welcome my name is Noe and I’m a
photographer living in Seoul South Korea for the past six months I’ve shot with
nothing but my phone so today I just want to go over my experiences and the
things I have learned shooting with only an iPhone 7 plus for six months I just want to point out that my
intention was never to show that a phone is as good at the as a DSLR because it’s
not this video is clearly meant more for beginners and much less for
professionals you know because if your wedding photographer you need that
inbody stabilization and lower noise reduction for like weddings because you
never know you can’t recreate the shot that you’re trying to get if you’re like
sports or wildlife photographer having that extra FPS it’s gonna help you get
that shot or not you know but the thing is most people are not professionals
like most people just want to take nice pictures for their Instagram and they
want to share with the friends or family or just get that bokeh so my issue is
that most reviews try to treat a beginner camera or even a phone camera as
if it’s something that’s meant for professionals and they end up telling
beginners not to get this camera because it doesn’t have an body stabilization or
it doesn’t have to dual card slots even though it may be a really awesome camera
now that we’ve gone that out of the way I just want to restate the idea that the
reason for me doing this for six months shooting with only my phone was to
inspire people to go out and take pictures like there’s many people who
are interested in photography but they stop or they don’t try to take photos
because the quote-unquote say they don’t have a camera but you have a phone so
you can start photography today using only your phone like a phone is actually
a very good starting point like as a beginner camera and then later on once
you want to get more serious you can actually go out and invest in a camera
of your choice and you know phone photography really isn’t that special
you know I don’t think it is I don’t think I deserve some award for shooting
for only six months with my iPhone 7 plus like it’s not some crazy incredible feat a
phone camera is still way better than anything people had back in a day you
know like that isn’t to say that Fan Ho for example would have used the
camera if it didn’t have in body stabilization like I’m sure he
would like that very much or if Henri cartier-bresson had a
autofocus like he would definitely take that I’m pretty sure photography is just
photography whether it be with a real camera or whether it be with the phone
camera it doesn’t really matter like the same principles pretty much still apply
you’re just kind of limiting yourself a little bit however I must admit that
shooting with only a phone for six months has been like a very humbling
experience like basically I have never shot so much in my life there have been
moments where I just take a few steps and take a photo and then like another
few steps later I will want to take another photo and it was just so easy
because I always had my phone with me and there’s other perks such as it’s
really light I didn’t have to worry about carry around a bunch of lenses or
tripods or charging up all my batteries because basically my phone’s pretty much
always charged literally after I started shooting with my phone I just saw
pictures everywhere like photography was all around me basically and I feel like
since I limited myself to shooting with only a phone I had to like really push
my creativity to its limit basically like and as you guys may know already I
love infrared photography and like I had to find a way to shoot him for a
photography with my phone so I ended up creating a nice little filter to be able
to achieve that there are so many pictures I never thought I could take
with just my phone if I hadn’t just been forced to use only my phone you know I
do a lot of street photography and if you’re out there in the street shooting
with like a big camera people actually run oh basically they run away they turn
around when they see you with with a camera but when they saw me with the
phone they just kind of dismissed me basically and they just kept on walking
so that that’s definitely a perk to using your phone but it can never beat
the feel of a real camera you know and I think having that feel is very important
for photography because in essence photography is
and experience now you have to take enjoyment in doing it otherwise you’re
not gonna be motivated to go out and take photos also I got lots of mixed
reactions online many people were surprised that my pictures were shot
with a phone it just goes to show that the majority of people they don’t pay
attention to the same things that photographers pay attention to like many
photographers especially the ones are lined and in forums they pay attention
to the most trivial things that normal people just don’t care about like soft
edges or little noise in the shadows or a little bit of camera movements but you
know I’ve said this before other photographers and pixel peepers these
people aren’t the ones buying your services or buying your images people
who buy your images and your services usually don’t do it for other reasons
like ah you took a picture of something that means very much to them or they
want to support you or perhaps you have a real good reputation and they like
your style so that’s why they come to you so while you may get a lot of hate
from the pixel peepers for having little noise in the shadows or even
professional students they like to put down our phone photographers I don’t
know why but the point is that the pixel papers aren’t going to be the ones
paying for your services no it’s going to be other people and they’re going to
support you regardless of whether you use a phone or if you’re using like a
main camera by the way I think that would be a pretty good time to let you
know that someone I’m not gonna say his name is going to be in the Seoul Museum
of Arts so they’re gonna have like a nice cyberpunk exhibits yeah take that
pixel peepers now I did tell you I was more of an artist right so I’m a
photographer but I do consider myself more towards the artistic spectrum of
photography i I read many message boards online of people saying that our
companies and people would not hire you if you’re shooting with a phone well I
actually found that to be the complete opposite because many companies actually
they find out what I was doing and I actually got gathered some kind of
reputation for that and they hired me to
shoot basically their products or their models or whatever they wanted with a
phone I even had a really big company which
I’m not sure I’m even allowed to say the name but I will tell you it’s a big
rival to Apple they hired me to shoot a street photos with her phone and the pay
was quite nice believe me but so far I have not had a client turn me down
because I was shooting with my phone like I always told them to like hey I’m
doing this project and I’m only going to be shooting with my phone and you know
what none of them cared and they hired me
anyways so for people telling you that you can’t make any money with a phone
photography that’s clearly BS but it really does depend on your reputation
and how professional you are and how how people know you to be so I just take
that into consideration it also made me realize just how much I could do if I
had a normal camera because you know I I pushed my phone camera to the limits I
mean I did everything I could with it but it made me think like if I can do so
much with a phone camera think of all the things I could do with a regular
camera even if it’s not the latest and greatest camera my main camera is
actually from like 2012 or something like that but like you know a phone
camera sensor is not even close to what any crop sensor can do and it’s worse
than any Micro Four Thirds camera out there and yet I was able to do so much
with just the phone camera you know and I’m a night photographer you know I
shoot in the lowest of the lowest of light and most people are not night
photographers you know so if I can do what I can do in the night
time with my phone what can you do with your phone when there’s plenty of light
available what can you do as a beginner if you get even a crappy real camera you
know not doesn’t even have to be full-frame could be
or a Micro Four Thirds camera like you could do so much more than me with a
real camera and I hope that automates someone listening out there but it also
made me a little bit sad because you know I learned that people never change
and despite shooting with the phone despite purposely buying the crappiest
second hand lens attachments for the phone people still want to know the gear
like it went from hey what camera and lens do you used to hey what phone camera
what phone lines are you using and like it’s very depressing for me it feels
like an uphill battle with people like you know I’ve been shooting phone
pictures not just with my iPhone 7 plus but I’ve been doing it with an iPhone 5
– and actually I started with the iPhone 5 and that was like from 2012 so
basically any phone you have right now is going to be whatever I started with
but people never change like people were always find a way to make excuses to why
their pictures are not as good as yours like oh it’s not my fault it’s the
cameras fault you know like people have this illusion that their pictures since
they’re not as good if they buy a new camera or they buy a new lens they’re
magically going to be taking better pictures and so people will always be
chasing this like a white rabbit like there’s always a new camera next year
that’s going to be better than the one I have right now and it’s always going to
be something better and if I just had that better one than the one I have now
I will be famous or I’ll make it on Instagram or pictures be really good and
that’s just not the case yeah I mean it’s not our green grass on
the other side like I realize there is so much hate for people who shoot with
their phone like are people really that thin-skinned and insecure about their
skills like they bought a very expensive camera and then here comes a person with
their phone do they really feel so threatened by somebody with their phone
that they just like badmouth demand like basically try to put them down for
shooting with a phone like I can tell you right now if you’re a real
professional like a professional at heart you’re not going to be able feel
threatened by anyone with a phone you know or like there’s just no way like a
good camera and a phone they’re like mouths apart but you can
still take amazing images with your phone don’t get me wrong but there is so
much hatred toward phone photographers like I I had never in my life imagined
that and you shouldn’t you shouldn’t be that way you know because like if you’re
a good photographer you know you’re a good photographer and many people would
feel like they’re losing out to business to like people with phones you know
because they would they’re willing to do it for free for exposure and all I
really have to say to you is like keep your standards up you know if someone
wants to hire someone else’s were willing to work for less than me like
for exposure go ahead you know I don’t care about small change you know I work
for the big companies and they’ll hire me based on my reputation alone and if
you’re professional that’s basically the attitude you should have you know
someone wants to hire someone for the concert for free and not you it’s their
loss you know not yours you got better things to do you’re professional you
should keep them Intel early if you’re a professional and you see someone
starting out photography and all they have is their phone you should encourage
them you know like like for me like I did this six months even though I wanted
to go a four year I did this for six months because I wanted to motivate more
people to go out there and shoot and partly because I got tired of people
asking me which camera I use you know and I just I just wanted to and I just
wanted to tell them I shoot my phone just to see what the reaction is yeah
I’m that kind of person so anyways I’m sorry this video is not in listicle
formats like I know lists are very popular on YouTube and that’s what
people like but this is just me talking how it is and
if you have time right now I’m actually going to tell you a short story that
happened to me this week because my intention was to shoot with my phone for
a whole year but I just got really depressed this week and I just needed to
use my camera so bad and I’m going to tell you that story right now it’s kind
of personal if you don’t care about me personally go
ahead and you know you can go if you want but if you want to know my
reasoning why I started shooting with my camera again I’m gonna tell you right
now so I’m an English teacher you know I
have a master’s degree in linguistics and I had the opportunity to teach at a
very good school on Monday but the problem was they
wanted a literature teacher and I’m a linguistics teacher if you know all the
difference basically I teach language and methodology and literature’s like
Shakespeare and stuff you know so I went there feeling like I was prepared for
the job I’m gonna take this head-on I’ve had years and years an experience the
first thing they asked me is to make two lesson plans in less than 20 minutes
over the Book Of Mice and Men which I actually never read you know the last
time I was near a bit class or a book was like 13 years ago and then they
proceeded to interview me after all that so it was a disaster and of course I
didn’t get the job but I have never felt so depressed I have never screw
something up so bad as that but yeah I know I’m linguistics major not a lit
major anyways I felt so depressed that the only way I could feel better is to
get myself in gear so I bought the Helios 44 – not very expensive and then
I really really really wanted to use my camera so I thought hey it’s been six
months already I basically proved my point that it’s
not the camera the matters it’s the photographer you know and I really feel
the need to keep going the whole year yeah so basically I’ve proved my point
and I want to use my camera and there are so many things I can’t do with the
phone for example I can do infrared photography but I
can’t do full-spectrum photography you know what I mean and yeah thanks for
listening to my more personal aspect to this video and let me know your thoughts
below I’d appreciate it you know what I would
appreciate is if one of you shared this video on reddit because you know why not
you know especially the photography forums anyways thank you so much and
I’ll see you around

61 Replies to “Phone photography – What I learned shooting on a phone 6 months

  1. ✅ Websites

    Wallpapers: http://www.noealz.com

    Prints: https://www.society6.com/noealz

    Donations: paypal.me/noealz

  2. love to see someone pushing the idea of the photographer > the camera, taking pictures is the best way to get better

  3. Really powerful message man, so glad that you did this and proved your point. I hope that you feel better having the gear back 🙂

  4. Hey Noe. I loved all the images you showed from the last 6 months. Really brings home what you can achieve. And, although the interview didnt go well, congrats on the art exhibition. You must be excited 🙂

  5. Phone photography is very satisfying! You can be so creative because of the unique size and maneuverability and the limitations and challenges! You are a master with phone photography and a king at editing! Really enjoyed this episode, Noe! Congrats on the exhibit and success, keep it up! 😀

  6. I enjoy your videos. Keep up the good work. Have fun with your old friend, camera. I would like to see more videos on Infrared. I just had a camera converted and I am at that early, steep, learning curve.

  7. I need a camera only to get my creative juices flowing. It's not about specs, it's about haptics, personal preference and using a tool that inspires me. My phone doesn't do that, I actually hate my phone and I can't for the life of me take proper photos with it, just like I hate it for almost everything else.
    As for gear, it's also not about specs, it's only about tribalism, fandom and getting confirmation and a pat on your shoulder for making the right gear choice. I feel immediately like we're BFFs because you love your X-Pro2, so take that all you Sony/Canon/Nikon users with your incredibly bad taste. It's the same as, err… Hip Hop vs. Techno? No, more like Blur vs. Oasis (for those old enough) in this case. and the battle about specs is like debating which band has the better guitarist. 
    So when I ask for a camera in your stream (I always do it tongue in cheek) I of course want the answer to be "my brand" so I know we're one tribe. 🙂

  8. I grt what ur saying bro… maybe you should make a video teaching people how to be them selves and shoot what they like and new things they could try

  9. I've only ever shot with phones. Someday, I hope to experience shooting with an actual camera, but phones are so conveniently located in pockets at all times, it just makes it so easy to snap all day.

    Most of my photos are taken when I am away from my home city (hence my ig being titled someplaces.ivebeen). Any tips for getting motivated to shoot the place you've lived your entire life?

  10. Gear obsession is pretty much a problem in any hobby. It's unfortunate but doesn't seem like it's going anywhere.

  11. Loving your insight on this, I’ve found after a year shooting on a phone that it was rather hard to use a dedicated camera. Bad luck on your interview, their loss.

  12. Love your work man! Keep pushing and do what makes you happy! I’m glad that you got a chance to show that all this stuff that people focus on is utter nonsense when photography is a passion and not a money making project. I love photography too and my camera is not the Best But it’s not the worst either. Thank you for validating that as long as it’s a passion, photography IS photography. Art, is art! Forget what F Stoppers say

  13. Thanks for sharing your experiences with your phone. Was really interesting to hear what you had to say. I have a iPhone 7 Plus and I'm happy enough with it, no need to upgrade.

  14. the camera to the photographer is much like the brush to the painter, the art is from the eye. everything else are tools. if my pictures aren't as good as yours, I just need more practice not different tools. when I see photos like yours that are better than mine, I'm encouraged to take more pictures.

  15. I’m going to have to give this a try. I use my phone only for “snapshots” when I don’t have my camera on me. Thanks for the video.

  16. Really good advice Noe. A lot of us photographers do get bogged down with kit and techniques. Great to hear what you learned from shooting with a camera phone for 6 months…and even though you wanted to do it for one year, that's still great achievement! 

    I'm not sure how long I would have lasted! 😆

    …and try not to beat yourself up about messing up with the interview…as long as you learn form your mistakes, you'll have got something form that experience. I had one where I forgot to turn on the preamp and there was no audio…I'll never do that again!! 🤦🏻‍♂️
    Keep up the great work Noe! 👍

  17. Feet on the ground ideas and support for people starting out. Personally there are two things that kill a phone for me. First the light weight makes it difficult to hold, especially as there is no view finder which would add stability. Second the fear of getting a perfect opportunity and having a less than perfect rendition. Still the sentiment and the power of a phone is right. Better for people to photograph with a phone, rather than not have anything and the results you show are strong compositions. That is what matters. A.,

  18. Great message, people should be encouraging others to explore their creativity not belittling them for their choice of camera. Phones are super convenient and as most new phones now shoot RAW it lets you really work on your editing skills without having to pay out for all the gear. I've edited loads of photos I've taken on my phone with the free Snapseed app, it doesn't have all the features Lightroom has but you can still get some amazing results.

  19. I am kind of doing the same thing a the moment. I have a couple of Sony full frame cameras, but I realize I am using my phone more and more. To the point that I feel that someday I will not need my expensive cameras anymore (especially with the advances in computational photography that you found in phones but not really in traditional cameras, and the features added via third party apps over time makes the phone model less relevant than with traditional cameras). Now on my Instagram I only post photo that I shot and processed with my phone only: https://www.instagram.com/heldico/ . The phone has that great advantage that you don’t need expensive computers, graphic tablet, etc., you can have the complete post processing suite on the same device that take the photos 🙂 Anyway, keep up the good work, no matter the gear! 🙂

  20. I don't understand why you feel like you screw up: the recruiters failed at their job, not stating what they were looking for. Two months ago a big Swiss company asked for my curriculum and shown interest in me only to replay after I sent my info they wer not interested in me… They found me via LinkedIn where my curriculum is openly available and they did not checked it so I just replied: "you were the ones finding me and you did your homework poorly, wasting my time and yours" I did not felt depressed, just annoyed and carried on.

  21. It only counts as a "screw up" if you tanked what would otherwise have been good enough to be workable. You were never equipped to complete the task as expected, but you did perfectly with your existing skill set. Ergo therefore, number of screw ups committed = Zero. The job was wrong, not you. Ok, rant over. 🙂 <3

  22. Hope you're feeling better after that let down Noe. A better opportunity will present itself and you'll look back on that moment and realize it was a blessing that you didn't get that job. Love your phone photography man, and really looking forward to seeing some new photos from your camera. Thanks for sharing. That actually takes a lot of courage to do that.

  23. I think the main issue is that a lot of people have difficulty learning which angles to take the photo from. That's something that comes with experience. As a phone photographer, even I make errors with what angle is correct. Also, due to phone's limitations….there is only so much detail I can capture with a phone camera lens (I'm talking about original Google Pixel for myself. Newer phones are MUCH MUCH better….like the Nokia 9).

  24. I enjoyed this video a lot. While I do love my camera and I'm not sure I could give it up for six months, I've taken some of my favorite photos with my phone. You articulated this point really well!

  25. What a cool project. Thanks for this. I need a periodic wake up call that more or newer gear isn't the solution.
    Quick question – I assume you were using manual mode on your phone. Were you using tripods or was all your shooting handheld? Also, were you using any static lighting or was it all natural light + post? Thank you. Keep up the great work.

  26. You are amazing & inspirational. I bow to the idea of only using your phone. For myself one camera, one lens for life. keep it up.

  27. Great video, thank you for sharing your experience. I lived in South Korea for a year back in 2010. I learned how to speak a little bit of Hangul. I had a great time there and used to love going to Itaewon in Seoul.

  28. Nice message and testimony. We all need more of this sort of videos. Life is truly about reducing to the essence, not the other way around. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. On a more practical level, I would be interested in knowing two things of your 6-month experience: 1) what limitations did you feel impossible to overcome when forced to use a smartphone instead of a DSLR, 2) it seems to me that post-processing has become an even more crucial activity: did your post-processing workflow change somehow? (did you end up using some tools more or less wrt shooting with a DSLR?). Thanks a lot.

  29. Your honesty was very refreshing. I shoot an iPhone 8 Plus and I face that discrimination a lot. I cannot afford a nicer camera so I use a few RAW manual camera apps on the phone. I’m a single dad and a camera like that would be a luxury I can’t afford. I’ve dreamed about it and spent hours browsing the online shops. But photography for me right now is a hobby, it’s something I do for a creative outlet. It felt really good to hear someone say don’t be ashamed of shooting with your phone. I’ll be honest sometimes I was. I don’t care what other people think, that has never bothered me in life at all. But sometimes I felt like to be taken seriously, or to hold my work up against others, that I would have to use expensive equipment to be able to compete in that arena. Felt really good to have you confirm what I already knew, photography comes from you not the equipment. Thanks a lot for that video, it was really inspiring. Keep up all the great work! Sorry to hear that you had a bad interview, but they put you under difficult conditions out of your element. Keep your head up and keep shooting!

  30. Many thanks, great story, I'm impressed. For me the phone is always a good company for my DSLR and I've found it very useful and good enough in some cases (still missing some features of a real camera).

  31. I’m an iPhone/Smartphone photographer and absolutely appreciate your video and what you had to say. I have had so much criticism about only shooting with a phone camera, but that only pushes me more to show that iPhone/Smartphone photography is relevant and you can still capture amazing photos. I follow you on Instagram and you give me motivation to shoot night and lowlight photography with my iPhone. Would really appreciate if you could check me out on IG:
    @smartpicsbytripp and let me know what you think or even advise me in what I could possibly do better. Again thanks for the video and thanks for your support!

  32. Thanks for sharing, man! It's the eyes and brain that are important but yeah, we all go through a gear phase!

  33. HOLY CRAP thank you for saying that. I've taken some beautiful pictures with my phone but I've never had the money to buy a legit camera. I always have this fraud-mentality because I use a phone for my pictures. Anyway I appreciate this video <3

  34. This was interesting. I tend to take way more pictures on my phone than my real camera, since I always have it, unless I'm traveling somewhere specifically for a shot or trying to get a timelapse. Also I feel like the phone photography community is quite good now since Moment lenses and others came on the scene. Oh, and you have some wonderful street shots!

  35. Thank you for defending phone photography!!!! How refreshing to hear from a professional! when I took a few beginner photography lessons in highschool, one benefit that my teacher stressed a lot about phones is that they’re always on you, so it’s easy to take photos anytime. Glad to hear that you had that experience too!!

  36. I'm stuck using an iPhone 7 right now unfortunately, but it makes me feel better knowing it's not as bad as I thought! Just need to figure out how to get more variety of colour in my night photos…

  37. You deserve more subscribers considering the quality of your videos.

    I am glad that I stumbled upon your channel.

    P.S. I have been watching so many videos but this is one of the few among hundreds that truly inspired me.

  38. Sorry about the job mate. Some times things are meant to be. I am a big believer that the universe has a plan for us (synchronicity). When I medically discharged from the army I was so lost. I didn't know what to do. Life moved on and things moved into place. When I look back on my military career I don't know how I survived; I was angry, on edge and depressed. I didn't know any better. I've had some pretty bad jobs that paid well after my army career; the jobs consumed my entire life giving me hardly any time for my family and hobbies. Two years ago I went for a storeman supervisor position and the agency asked me if I would like to work for the local council as a road line marker, I said yes, I was tired with storeman work anyway. I love my current job. It pays well, I'm in the city most of the time and If I see something cool, street photography wise, I shoot it. One thing I've learned in life, stressing solves nothing and dwelling on things that could have been is wasting time that could be focused else where. It took me a long time to look on the bright side of life (and a lot of self reflection).

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