Smartphone Photographer Vojta Havlis Interview (Mobile Creator Series)

This Czech mobile photographer is on the rise – both his landscape and portrait photography are drawing attention. It’s worth noting that he’s successful at marketing himself on social media – his follower count on Instagram swells more and more each day.

If you’re a new mobile photographer, then Havlis has a treasure trove of information to help you hone your craft. Even if you have loads of experience, his style is unique enough that you may want to pay attention.

The Mobile Creator Series

Mobile Creator's Series

What is the Mobile Creator Series?

MCS is an initiative to discover and highlight photographers pioneering mobile photography. It’s a series of interviews and collaborations that highlight the potential of smartphones and the innovation of the people using them to push the envelope of traditional photography.

The goal is to inspire new photographers to think outside the box – to create with the tools you have available. Secondarily, we want to dispel the notion that smartphones aren’t comparable to conventional cameras. The artists featured are our evidence.

Without further ado, meet Vojta.

The Mobile Creator Series: Interview with @thelensking8

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Name: Vojta Havlis

Location / Homebase: Czech Republic

Favorite Gear: iPhone + 18mm Moment Wide-Angle lens

His style is broody – lots of dark tones brought to life by the sun’s rays. But his work isn’t dark at all; on the contrary, there is a certain life to it.

For his nature photography, it’s as if he catches the perfect moment. Whether it’s that spring replaces winter, the sun peaks perfectly through the leaves, or an animal finds piece, Havlis is seemingly there to photograph it.

For his portrait photography, he catches a particular air in people that most portrait photography – let alone mobile portrait photography – simply does not.

If you’re interested in nature photography, portrait photography, or just mobile photography in general, then his unique set of skills is worth trying to possess.

We tried to get to the bottom of how @thelensking8 does it.

Here’s the obvious question – do you choose to use a smartphone for photography instead of a traditional camera? Is it a full replacement or just a supplement?

I use both, so I wouldn’t say either. I choose to use my phone for more artistic stuff, and I utilize a full-frame mirrorless for my job.

As far as my phone is concerned, I use an iPhone paired with my favorite Moment lens. For my work camera, I have a Sony A7.

Do you think smartphones offer any significant advantages over traditional cameras? Are there severe shortcomings, in your opinion?

Yes and no.

I’ve got my phone with my trusty Moment lens with me all the time – I never leave home without it. You never know what might happen, you know? There are always opportunities to take photos, and I don’t want to miss a single one.

The only disadvantage for me when it comes to my phone is that I miss the full-body feeling of a camera. To explain, sometimes the phone slips from my hand when shooting. While this doesn’t happen with my work camera, it is not important enough for me to prefer the Sony. 

How do you overcome the drawbacks of smartphone photography?

In my opinion, there are not many, if any, drawbacks at all.

Initially, I had a problem with the native apple application because it didn’t let me take pictures in RAW format. The problem, however, was solved with the Moment app.

Now I can use full manual mode for both photos and videos.

As I mentioned earlier, the only drawback for me is slipping. I combat this by using a small strap on my hand.

Smartphones are more than just cameras – they can edit and publish photos too. Do you use any other phone features in the course of your work?

Well, as stated before, I use the Moment app when shooting for the myriad of manual options. For editing, I use Lightroom (the mobile version). However, I don’t use my phone. I prefer to use an iPad for editing to have a bigger screen.

My opinion is that a great mobile photographer doesn’t need anything more than Lightroom. I mostly say this because the critical work gets done when you are taking the photo.

Do you think there is any gear – type, brand, or model – that is critical to enabling mobile photography? What is it? Why?

You only need the phone and the will to go outside and take photos. You can buy other accessories, but in my opinion, they are not necessary. Once you get good enough, the gear is beneficial. Before this point, though, getting a bunch of equipment is pretty pointless.

Any secret tricks or techniques you can share for people interested in improving their mobile photography?

I always try to find different angles to take photos – vantage point are key!

Utilize different photo modes, too – especially panoramic and portrait modes.

You may also find that using water reflections can help too. Oh, and above all, go out and find super awesome places!

Any final words of advice to aspiring photographers?

I sometimes struggle with motivation. The only solution to a lack of motivation is to force yourself to go out and take photos.

There’s no other way to get better, and mobile photography gets more fun, the more skilled you become. Things like the Mobile Creator Series help, but again, there’s no substitute for hard work!

Also, another important thing is to share as much as possible with everyone. Whether you choose to print the photos and hang them or share them digitally with friends, the benefits are the same.

And the most important thing is, no matter the numbers and followers on Instagram and other social media sites, that your mobile photography brings you joy.

Vojta Havlis

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