Chun: I was introduced to analog photography by some friends when I studied abroad for a year in Taiwan. I loved the analog medium immediately and shot as much as I could. Shooting film is still my passion but because it wasn’t really economical, I decided to shoot with what I had available instead, my phone. I discovered some online photo sharing community’s and started to post my pictures there. It wasn’t until then that I started to realize that mobile photography has some serious potential. There are so many apps that you can download and process your pictures with, the possibilities are endless. Of course I tried copying from different people and experimented as much as I could to achieve that distinct mobile photo look.
However, I realize that processing my pictures with filters and textures is not something I like to do all the time. Everybody was doing it and I can tell you that it gets old quick. Mind you, I have nothing against people giving their pictures a grungy feel, but to me it’s just a distraction of what photography really is. It’s that for that reason that I turned to black and white street photography.
I wanted to do street photography for a long time because it’s the hardest and most challenging form of photography. It’s not that there aren’t any people doing street photography with their phones, but nobody is doing it consistently here in the city I live. Amsterdam is the city I grew up in, it’s my birthplace and my home.
I know every sidewalk and every corner, how the light falls through the buildings and how the light reflects from the windows to the streets. The city itself is not very big, but the diversity you find here is great. Every time I go out it’s different: the weather conditions, the amount of people and tourists populating the city etc etc.
Street photography is not easy, you have to overcome your fears of shooting in public and conquer your insecurities about you as a photographer and as a person.To capture that instant moment is a very rewarding experience. You have to learn to look at things differently and be alert all the time. I can’t really describe what it is like to shoot the streets, but you have to do it for a while to know what I’m talking about. After you spend enough time outside you just know exactly what to capture and when to react at the appropriate time. You develop a new skill for looking at light, anticipating peoples movements, catching peoples interesting gestures, emotions and expressions.
The reason why I use my iPhone as my camera is simple. My phone is my camera and my light box. I prefer taking pictures editing on my phone because it offers me the flexibility and convenience at any place and any time. Chase Jarvis said “the best camera is the one you have with you”. You either hate or love his work but there is a truth in what he says. At the end of the day it’s all about the pictures you take with the camera you feel comfortable with. People will judge you for your work. They don’t really care about what camera you use or what fancy gear you have. Sure, I would love to shoot the streets with a Leica M9, but I can’t afford one. For now my iPhone is as good as any camera out there. I know the limitations of my device and can easily work around the problems.
I think that is why my influence in terms of photography comes from the Magnum photographer Alex Majoli. He was one of the very few professional photographers who shot his assignments with a point and shoot camera (Olympus c5050 and later Olympus c8080). What I learned from Alex Majoli is that you could develop your technique to deal with the shortcomings and explore the unique strengths of your camera. People thought he was crazy back then, but he could easily create stunning pictures with those camera’s. It’s just more proof to me that it’s all about the photographer. Although he switched to a Leica M9P now, I still think that he proved to everybody that you can take great pictures with any camera.
Spending time on the streets honing your skill is one thing, but deciding what to show to your audience is another. I think that you’re as good as your last photograph. Heavy editing and reviewing your pictures in a critical manner is therefore a necessity. I started doing street photography seriously maybe 4 months ago. I don’t know what my style is, nor would i want to be categorized in one. For me there is still much to learn. What I personally look for in my photography are interesting characters, interesting gestures and emotions of people. I like to capture those small moments that nobody notice. I think it’s fascinating that you could freeze time at the right moment. It feels like the moment could go one forever.
In terms of mobile street photography I think I’m pushing the limits of my device. Until they come out be with a better one, I will keep shooting with my current one.
More Images by Chun Tong Chung
- Website: http://www.chuntongchung.com/
- Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hideousmanki/
- Eye’em: http://www.eyeem.com/streams/show/user:571
- Mobilephotogroup: http://www.mobilephotogroup.com/
- Google plus: https://plus.google.com/116507162463328305307/about
What are your thoughts about shooting street photography with an iPhone and which one of Chun Tong’s images are your favorite? Show him some love by leaving a comment below!