The first time I stumbled upon our next participant in the Mobile Creator Series, I stayed on his Instagram for quite a while, before being sucked into his Youtube for even longer.
During my time checking him out, I noticed two refreshing things. First, I was amazed at the pure joy that seemed present in his work – every bit of it.
Second, I loved how much he wants to collaborate with other content creators! The best way for all of us to improve is by working together and exchanging ideas.
That’s, after all, the goal of the Mobile Creator series.
THE MOBILE CREATOR SERIES
WHAT IS THE MOBILE CREATOR SERIES?
MCS is an initiative to discover and highlight photographers pioneering mobile photography and videography. 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 and videography.
The goal is to inspire new creators 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 Joshua.
THE MOBILE CREATOR SERIES: INTERVIEW WITH @1menzy
Name: Joshua Mensah
Location / Homebase: Accra, Ghana
Favorite gear: iPhone 7 with Moment 18mm
Are you ready to see some content that’ll brighten your soul?
Then you need to head on over to Joshua Mensah’s Instagram, Twitter, or Youtube where you’ll be met with some of the most refreshing content on the web.
What this man gets out of an iPhone 7 is a testament to what true talent can do. If you’re looking for tips and tricks, behind the scenes glimpses, and seriously dope videos then you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s learn how he does it, shall we?
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 a smartphone for creating content mainly because of the ease of use. It isn’t a full replacement for the traditional camera.
The smartphone makes capturing content very easy because it sits in your pocket every day. So, instead of having to carry a DSLR or a mirrorless around with you all the time, the phone is already there when inspiration strikes!
Yes, even in the most unplanned moments. That’s one of the reasons I choose to capture so many moments with it.
At the moment, the traditional camera will always be my first call for client projects since that’s what makes the client feel they are getting value for their money. Plus, the kind of quality that comes from a traditional camera is a bonus. In my opinion, the smartphone hasn’t quite caught up yet.
Do you think smartphones offer any significant advantages over traditional cameras? Are there serious shortcomings, in your opinion?
In this part of Africa people usually tend to frown on the camera, especially when they see you use it in public. Nobody wants to see themselves get photographed, so they either shout at you, hide their faces from the camera, or shy totally from it. The stigma is different here.
But with a smartphone, it comes off as friendly since many people own one. It doesn’t seem like much of a big deal to people to capture content freely with your phone in public.
As far as shortcomings go, the smartphone currently has a few:
- doesn’t capture the depth of field well straight off the bat (unless with the use of a DOF adapter)
- doesn’t thrive well in low lights
- the dynamic range isn’t that great yet
But without a doubt, the biggest shortcoming for me is the lack of Pro Camera controls – especially with my iPhone 7.
Some Android manufacturers like Samsung equip the camera with Pro Features like shutter speed, ISO, white balance controls to help, but the majority don’t.
(If necessary: ) How do you overcome the drawbacks of smartphone photography?
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To be able to create separation between the subjects I film and their environment, I have to be creative with framing and composition. Since there isn’t any depth of field present, you’ll mostly have to create color contrast, choose backgrounds that don’t swallow the subject but makes them stand out.
And shoot different angles!
With the issue of camera controls, you’ll definitely have to shoot with third-party apps like the Filmic Pro and the Moment Pro Camera App to get the most out of your smartphone camera.
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?
80% of the time, I’m on my phone finding inspiration from other creators that are putting out exceptional content. That’s how I find inspiration for my work
The majority of times I’m inspired by the Instagram explore page. I document these ideas using my Notes app and try to create content that reflects my inspirations.
Oh, and most importantly, whenever I go to a location to scout without a DSLR, I check my framings, compositions, the field of view, light play, and all using my phone. It gives me a fair idea of what the final piece will look like.
The weather app also helps to anticipate what kind of weather I’ll experience for the shoot day.
Do you think there is any type of gear that is critical to enabling mobile photography? What is it? Why?
The mobile phone is good enough to create okay content, but when you want to get DSLR cinematic type of shots out of it, you’ll need extra gear to help push it towards that direction.
A gimbal is one worth investing in for me. It’s great for all the smooth shots and perfect for the trendy shots like the Vortex, POV and all.
In terms of a mobile lens for different fields of view, mostly I use the Moment 18mm Lens for wide angles.
To be able to rig your mobile phone with extra gear like lights, microphones, and lenses, you’ll need a phone grip like the ones from BeastGrip.
I don’t know if third party apps fall into gear, but they’re very necessary to gain access to all the camera controls.
Any secret tricks or techniques you can share for people interested in improving their mobile photography?
Practice Practice Practice.
That’s the best way to improve on the kind of content you’re making.
Take inspiration from lots of creators and aspire to create every day to match up or beat the standards they’re setting!
Any final words of advice to aspiring photographers?
Treat the mobile phone as a camera.
The more you see and use it like that, the more likely you be to be able to create content that will match up to what the traditional camera can produce.
Take control over the camera settings (do you know about shooting in RAW?), that way your shots come out looking pro and it’s less obvious it was shot on mobile.