How to shot street photography with a mobile phone

Street photography with mobile phones has became popular over the years, since when phones have got good cameras. Phones are always on you and it’s very simple to capture moments on the streets.

Everybody must know that street photography can not only be shot with a fancy DSLR or a classic film camera. It’s possible to shot street photography with a mobile phone too.

Hoyerswerda, Germany 2016

To start off here are some tips on how I shoot street photography with a mobile phone:

  1. Aiplane mode, no distractions
  2. No earphones, no music while shooting, I like to hear the ‘sounds’ of the streets
  3. Use a physical button and not the touchscreen button, I use the volume button on my phone
  4. Quick access key, I press two times the ‘home’ button on my phone to have instantly access to my camera

Why use a mobile phone

Self portrait in elevator. Hoyerswerda, Germany 2018

In according to me, phones are the best cameras for photography and street photography.

Here are my five personal reasons why shoot street photography with a mobile phone:

  1. My phone is always with me, no more excuses to not going out and just shoot. I just need to open my camera app and don’t worry about technical settings.
  2. I can shoot more. Phones have got unlimited storage space and backup apps are free.
  3. It’s cheaper, phones camera have got great image resolution, similar to most of the expensive ‘real camera’ out there.
  4. It’s less obstructive for me and my subjects beacuse phones are not heavy like many ‘real cameras’ so I’m more likely to shot for a long time. My subject feels more comfortable to be shot with a small camera instead of a big one.
  5. Instant sharing on social media with my friends and post process photos on my phone. I use Snapseed, the best mobile photography editing app, for me.

How to shoot street photography with a mobile phone

1. Shot in ‘Auto’ mode

Grandfather.  Southern Italy, 2017

Mobile phone’s cameras have got many shooting options, from manual mode (where I can set ISO, contrast and the exp of a picture) to the portrait mode. I use to shoot in ‘auto’ mode. In ‘auto’ mode I’m able to shot a lot of photos of what I like and I’m able to not think about all the technical settings while shooting. Rather I can focus on capturing my personal decisive moment.

2. Get close

Nicolai PT-face-southern-italy-2017
Southern Italy, 2017

If you shoot with a phone nobody will notice you, most people will ignore me, even if I take my phone in front of their faces. This happen because phones are everywhere and most of the people on the streets are walking with their phone’s in their hands.

In this way is easy to get closer to the subject and take some interesting pictures without being noticed.

3. Find an interesting background, and wait for people to enter

Hoyerswerda, Germany 2016

Usually when I see a good background, I take the mobile phone in my hands and wait for people walking in front of me. When someone intersting enter the frame I shot. I use to shoot candidly so, to not get noticed, I assume that I’m talking with someone on the phone or just taking a selfie while, in reality, my phone’s camera is pointed on the subject.

4. Shoot from the hip

Southern Italy, 2017

Lots of street photographers shoot from the hip even if many street photographers say that shooting from the hip is shooting blindly and only fearful street photographers, who doesn’t like to take risks, shot from the hip.

Shooting from the hip is holding the camera at waist-level, shooting without looking at the screen. While I’m shooting from the hip, I often get a more interesting perspective.

With this technique people don’t assume that I’m shooting them so it’s easy to capture candid moments.



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