Mobile phone photography: Why the best camera is the one you have with you
Reportage photographer Phil Hatcher-Moore recently returned from an assignment in South Sudan for Unicef. Below, he talks us through the images he created with the Kodak Ektra smartphone and explains why a mobile can be less intrusive than a DSLR.
The photo: Internally displaced South Sudanese walk through the “Protection of Civilians” camp at the United Nations base in Wau, South Sudan, on June 14, 2017. Thousands of people fled fighting in Wau last year, and have lived under the protection of UN forces ever since.
What took you to South Sudan?
A renewed bout of violence kicked off last year and I wanted to go back and look at the situation. I’m motivated by a desire to tell stories that aren’t otherwise being told.
The photo: An internally displaced boy sits in the grounds of St. Mary’s cathedral in Wau, South Sudan, on June 15, 2017. When fighting erupted in Wau a year ago, thousands of people fled to the cathedral in search of safety, and have lived in the grounds ever since.
Are there any advantages to shooting with a mobile?
In these examples probably not so much to be honest, but in general terms there are some circumstances when a phone is less intrusive. The biggest thing with photography is having a camera with you and I’m not always carrying a DSLR around my neck but I do always have a phone in my pocket. It’s like that saying, the best camera is the one you have with you all the time.
The Photo: Women dance and sing a song about refusing the recruitment of child soldiers in the town of Pibor. There was a large recruitment back in 2012 and nearly 2,000 children were released in 2015. I was there looking at the response to that, the reintroduction of kids into society and how they can get on with their lives. These ladies were dancing to warn people of the dangers of what can happen and included mothers who’d had children recruited.
How do you find shooting with the KODAK EKTRA smartphone?
I’ve never used Android before so that took a bit of getting used to. But the feel of the camera was nice, having a bit more of a grip rather than having to hold around the screen like on a regular smartphone was good. It also allows a bit more control, being able to choose shutter speed for example. I found the image quality on the Kodak Ektra smartphone really good and coupling it with Snapseed™ there’s a lot you can achieve in terms of toning.
The Photo: A girl hangs up washing in the “Protection of Civilians” camp at the United Nations base in Wau. While some people live in huts and markets have popped up, catering for everything you need in life, in April this year renewed fighting in the region forced more people to flee to the camp. There are now a few thousand who have no shelter, they’re not getting a food ration and they’re sleeping out in the open.
How are you using Snapseed™?
In South Sudan the harsh light leads to strong shadows so Snapseed™ allows me to bring up the shadows a bit, tone down the highlights to make the image a bit more pleasing. I don’t rework my images but it’s important to adjust highlights, shadows and contrast to create a uniform look.