What It’s Like to Shoot with Only a Smartphone for 6 Months

One of the most common pieces of advice when you’re stuck in a creative rut is to “limit yourself.” Pick one focal length, shoot JPEG only, try a style you’re not used to. But what about limiting yourself to just an iPhone? For the past six months, Seoul-based photographer Noealz Photo did just that.

Six months is a long time to limit yourself to a smartphone—in Noealz’ case, an iPhone 7 Plus—especially when your primary genre is nighttime street photography that looks like something straight out of Blade Runner:

But he’s adamant that there were benefits to the experiment. For one, because his phone was always on him and charged, he was almost always shooting:

“I have never shot so much in my life,” he explains. “There have been moments where I would just take a few steps, take a photo, then another few steps later I would want to take another photo.”

The other major advantage was the creative challenge that this posed. “Since I limited myself to only shoot with a phone, I had to push my creativity to its limit,” he says in the video. “There are so many pictures I never thought I could take with just my phone, if I hadn’t been forced to use only the phone.”

That includes “infrared” photography, which was done using a special Lightroom filter he created himself:

The other major surprise from the video is that Noelz was actually able to book client work with his phone. One major company approached him specifically because he was doing this 6-month project, but more importantly, he claims that “so far, I have not had a client turn me down because I was shooting with my phone […] none of them cared and they hired me anyways.”

In the end, the biggest lesson may have been just how much he could do with a “real camera” once this challenge was over. “It made me think,” says Noelz, “if I could do so much with a phone camera, think of all the things I could do with a regular camera. Even if it’s not the latest and greatest camera.”

A reminder we could all probably use from time to time.

Check out the full video up top to hear all of Noelz’ thoughts on this particularly limiting experiment in photography. The introduction lasts about 3 minutes, so skip to 3:03 if you wanna dive right into the meat of the video.

And if you want to see more from Noelz, head over to his website, Instagram, or YouTube channel.