Smartphone Photographer Karen Schanely Interview (Mobile Creator Series)

Did you know that with the right gear, you can shoot weddings on a smartphone? Yes, that means phone wedding photography is a thing!

That probably made some people squirm (my fiancee and our next MCS participant included), but they aren’t alone. Your client would almost certainly prefer you to use a DSLR or mirrorless on their big day because of – well, you know – THE STIGMA!

It’s ok, the day where you can shoot a wedding with a phone without issue is coming, and it’s coming faster than a lot of people think. In the meantime, our next participant in the Mobile Creator Series captures her weddings, engagement shoots, and couple shoots on her Canon DSLR and her macro shots with her iPhone 11.

Be sure to check out her website where you can see some of her work, contact her about a shoot, and get to know her even more!


Mobile Creator's 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 Karen.


Karen Schanely Photography(@karen.schanely)
Karen Schanely Photography(@karen.schanely)

Name: Karen Schanely
Location / Homebase: Dayton, Ohio
Favorite Gear: Canon DSLR or iPhone 11 Pro with an Olloclip Macro Lens

Karen’s page is as wholesome as they come. Seriously, it warms your heart, just looking at it.

While she isn’t a pure phone photographer, we just had to include her because of those super detailed snowflake macro shots! To be clear, the excellent snowflake photography is all mobile.

Just look at that detail – that beauty!

She describes herself on her website – which focuses more on the DSLR work – as:

“A wedding and family photographer that captures joyful and romantic images – standing the test of time.”

Karen is serving couples & families in the Dayton, Ohio,  Charleston, South Carolina, and beyond! So, go ahead and get in touch.

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 love having a great camera to use when I’m out and about with my family and want to get snapshots of our life together. The phone is perfect for quick moments when I don’t want to carry heavy, big gear with me.

I love using my iPhone and mobile lenses for macro snowflakes. I actually prefer my phone for this because it’s easier to control, keep steady, and get focused quickly in cold, snowy, wet conditions where the snowflake might blow away at any moment.

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

Karen Schanely Photography(@karen.schanely)
Karen Schanely Photography(@karen.schanely)

Yes – see above for the advantages. The shortcomings – I’d love to see phones with RAW image settings (check this out if you want to learn more about RAW) and better low light capabilities.

(If necessary: ) How do you overcome the drawbacks of smartphone photography?

I use editing software to help fix any issues.

I have seen that Profoto has a mobile light that would be fun to add to my collection.

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?

I use Lightroom Mobile, and I love using Instagram to share my work.

I utilize all of Instagram’s features to share behind-the-scenes pictures and before/after shots so that all of my followers can be as engaged as possible.

Do you think there is any type of gear that is critical to enabling mobile photography? What is it? Why?

For me personally, I need my mobile lenses to capture the snowflakes macro-style. I love these Olloclip lenses.

Editing software can also take images to the next level. As I mentioned before, I usually use Lightroom Mobile.

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

Karen Schanely Photography(@karen.schanely)
Karen Schanely Photography(@karen.schanely)

Learn to use light well!

Whether it’s the light that is available or light you can create, light is one of the most essential factors in creating a great image.

Any final words of advice to aspiring photographers?

Keep practicing and keep learning.

And remember, there’s no such thing as ‘arriving.’

So, enjoy the journey!

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