Street Photography with an iPhone?


I have heard about so many good and bad things about using a smart phone like an iPhone to take serious photos. Most serious photographers would spoof at the idea of using a smart phone for serious photography. Smart phone photography were limited to obnoxious and boring photos of one’s meal, snapshots of their family or friends or so they said. Is that true?

I intend to find that out during the Chinese New Year Break. I tried to shoot some street photos with an iPhone 4 (Remember my advice? The best phone is the one in your hand)

I am using these Apps that were down loaded onto my phone for this purpose.

  1. 645Pro – I used this app to get reasonable quality photos. The nicest things I like about it were the aspect ratio controls and the film simulation mode. I like the slide films and Tri-X BnW simulations. You can buy this app at $2.99 at iTunes Store.  645Pro Apps
  2. Camera+ – This is a good app for photo filters, framing, borders and presentation. You can get the app for $0.99 at iTunes Store. Camera+

My friend - the Barber


I chose a theme of “Down Memory Lane”. This theme took me to all the old places I used to visit when I was a boy. Some of these images meant more to me than my viewers. Each image has a little nostalgic story attached to it.


Walking around with a smart phone

The size and pocketability were the main advantages. Most subjects would not give another look at a small unobtrusive phone. Some were even thinking that I was taking a picture of myself.


Starting up the camera took more time than using a DSLR. Focusing was slow especially in low light. It didn’t work as well as a dedicated camera. Even an entry level digital point and shoot camera would have won hands down.


Shutter lag was really bad. Most shots were a “hit and miss”. The most frustrating thing about the smart phones was the capability of shooting at 1 frame every 5 or more seconds. There were lots of missed moments.


Image quality wise, it was good enough for posting onto the internet. I do not seriously think that it would stand enlargements up to exhibition sized prints.


Khoo Kongsi


What I like about iPhone photography?


Smart phone photography has overtaken cameras in terms of the number of images taken and posted on the internet. The ease of use, pocketability, post processing apps and photo filters made picture taking, processing and posting extremely attractive. It was almost seamless. One can take an image, post process it in the phone and upload it on the net all within a matter of a few seconds after the picture was taken. It is this instant gratification that has taken the world by storm. It has changed the way pictures were taken, process and ready for viewing for the masses.


Various Start-up companies like Instagram were supporting this photography trend especially for posting onto Facebook and Twitter and other social media networks. More photo filters were developed for smart phone photography than for files from cameras.


Goddess of Mercy Temple, Penang


Maxby says

Photography is about visual communication. Regardless of what instrument or equipment that was used to record this visual story was irrelevant. Some better instruments would record the same visual story in a better quality image.


Working with a smart phone has its advantages as well as disadvantages.


I find the question of whether one can use this instrument to tell a visual story is a more important consideration than image quality. It is horses for courses. As far as I am concerned, I am quite happy with this little project. Now I have to try to print out those photos for my personal album.


The god of Fortune on the first day of Chinese New Year


Devotees offering prayers


The altar


Lighting of joss sticks


A blessing for the family by light offerings.

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