Four months ago, I published a controversial story about my breakup. It wasn’t a breakup with anyone, but the end of a love-hate relationship with my DSLR. Some were cynical about my decision to shift to mobile photography. They said I was overconfident. That I couldn’t cling to a crude phone forever. That I’ll miss the sound of the shutter. That true pride and happiness is only in the company of a powerful and hi-tech DSLR.

I doubt it. Dumping my DSLR never made me guilty. Don’t mind the bashers. I’m just glad it’s over. <ROFL>

If, in two years of blogging, I’ve made others swoon on my travel photos–and I did that when smartphone cameras were just starting to get the upgrades–what’s stopping me now that brands are hot in the fight for the best camera phone?

More and more people are paying attention and testing the waters of mobile photography. Little by little, we’re redefining the concept of “beauty”. We’re changing old mindsets, some of which have been passed around by those who dangle a real camera.

Also read: Phoneography Tips from Top Filipino Photographers

1. Beautiful doesn’t mean high-res

For large prints, a smartphone photo is a sure loser. Of course, 12 MP is not of billboard quality. But, at this resolution, my smartphone can already give me decent photo worthy of a 12×18 photo frame. Definitely, smartphone photos look great for social media and blogging, besides the fact that I can bring my phone anywhere without worrying about multiple lenses and bulk.phoneography

fortune island
 Taken at the fashion shoot by PHONEography CEBU (Huawei Mate S, edited in Snapseed) 2. Photo taken by Lourenzo Bubuli during the same fashion shoot  3. A fashion shoot at Fortune Island (Huawei Mate S) 4. Children at playtime , taken in Bukidnon (Huawei Mate S) 5. A morning dip in Taal Lake (smartphone)

2. Beauty is (still) a camera vs. photographer debate

One thing I’m sure of, beauty is not in the eyes of the beer holder. It’s in the eyes behind the camera—a matter of creativity, technique, and composition. But quality surely makes a big difference. If you ask a skilled photographer to shoot with a regular phone and let another skilled photographer use a high-end phone like Huawei’s P9 and P9 Plus, there is a real difference, not due to skill but due to the tool. With a dual camera co-designed with Leica, the P9 sports a superior lense that shoots high-quality image in RGB and monochrome. A Leica lense plus a Sony sensor, a 12-megapixel cam with an f/2.2 aperture—you can say that beautiful is in the camera, too.

kayakasia bohol

Punong Gary's Place in Silay
palaui island
oas albay
liloan cebu

 Abatan River in Maribojoc Bohol (Huawei Mate S, Instagram crema filter) 2. Punong in Silay City, Negros Occidental (Huawei Mate S) 3. A sunset in Calaguas, Camarines Norte (smartphone) 4. Cape Engano in Palaui Island (smartphone) 5. A road through the ricefields in Oas, Albay (smartphone) 6. A lighthouse in Liloan, Cebu (smartphone)

3. Beauty is not always Photoshopped

That one you know if you take a lot of selfie. Or you shoot at a fashion show. Who says you can’t bring a smartphone for a fashion shoot? With the right angle, lighting, and concept, a mobile photographer can achieve a great photo, enough to land on a magazine’s front page. Even without Photoshop, of course. Mobile apps like Snapseed, Picsart, VSCO, and Lightroom are powerful and simple enough to enhance the quality of a smartphone photo. And with a smartphone like Huawei’s P9, you can shoot with parts of the photo artistically blurred out (bokeh) and use your photo straight from the cam. #noedit #nofilter


 Silky water effect on Cambugahay Falls in Siquijor (Huawei Mate S, no edit) 2. Salagdoong Beach in Siquijor (Huawei Mate S, edited in Picsart) 3. Buntun Bridge in Cagayan (smartphone)

4. Beautiful doesn’t mean technical & difficult

The good thing with mobile photography is that it pushes technology to the limits and make photography accessible to everyone. No more buying expensive equipment and a dozen lenses, and no more going through the pains of mastering a DSLR. Even the challenges in aperture and shutter speed due to small camera sensors are now slowly being won. Now, a smartphone can already produce effects that used to be possible only with the big guys’ DSLR. Huawei Mate S and P9, for instance, already have powerful light trails, light painting, and silky water effects yet to be beaten by other smartphones. Now, anyone with these phones can just point and shoot, explore, and enjoy an otherwise technical and difficult task. THAT is beautiful.

light trails
the barn panglao
long exposure p9
star trails huawei
All photos taken with Huawei Mate S
 Light trails of cars (Minimal edit in Picsart) 2. Long exposure using the professional mode 3. Professional camera long exposure shot (Huawei P9) 4. Thirty-minute long exposure using the star track function (Edited in Lightroom) 5. Fireflies at the Abatan River during a night kayaking (light trail function)

Also read: I Broke Up With My DSLR (Perhaps You Will, Too)

5. Beauty is more than what the eyes see

The smartphone as a purely messaging device is way way a thing of the past. Technology has made it “smarter”, multifunctional, and more powerful in capturing life’s best moments. Better cameras that can perfectly capture that food that sent your tastebuds crazy; or that childhood memory that connects you to your past; that divine feeling as you trek along the giant mountains; or that moment you stopped by the shore and let go of your heartbreaks. There’s slow motion and time lapse, too. What other tool can be so handy to document all these moments except a powerful smartphone camera.

negros museum cafe

bohol bee farm ice cream
 A colorful dish at the Negros Museum Cafe (Huawei Mate S) 2. Halo-halo ice cream from Bohol Bee Farm (Huawei Mate S) 3. A 4×4 car with the mountains of Pinatubo in the background (smartphone) 4. The frothy waves slapping a small rock by the shore, taken at Bantayan Island (smartphone)

6. Beauty doesn’t always come in colors

And when the world is angry, noisy, complicated, go back to basics and shoot in monochrome. With Huawei P9’s dual camera, you can now take photos in black and white and see things differently. Make a memory timeless. Make it pure and elegant. Bring out emotions, space, and focus. Bring out beauty.

loboc river

monochrome huawei

All photos taken with Huawei Mate S
 Two versions of the Loboc River, black and white edit, and real color 2. A fallen leaf, black and white version, and real color 3. Black and white edit of Lake Apo in Bukidnon 4. Children playing a traditional Filipino game

As a legendary boxer has said, “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it.”

Mobile photography is breaking that big word. It’s promising. These are exciting times. The revolution in smartphone photography will continue and those will take the challenge will take the lead.

So, get a smartphone. As I have learned, it will love you just as much as a real camera does. And you will love it, too.

M O B I L E     P H O T O G R A P  H Y

All photos in this article, unless otherwise captioned, were taken with a smartphone. For this post, we banked on the power of Huawei Mate S and Huawei P9, which is a super phone for both outdoor and indoor photography. Visit Huawei’s Facebook page for more details about their products.


ArisMape is a travel insider at ABS-CBN's Choose Philippines. He loves orange, halo-halo, and PowerPoint, and hates beef, slow internet, and long taxi lines. His pastime is watching people watch other people. He swears on the power of smartphone. His half-life? Thirty.