mobile photography technology, culture and community

Exposure: Finn Beales

Titled "Taking a Break from the Apocolypse," one of Finn Beales' favorite images was captured in a geothermal hot spring in Iceland.

When Finn Beales, a professional photographer based in Wales, is not using his Canon EOS 5D Mark III for work, he enjoys shooting with his iPhone 4S. Keeping with his style of creating symmetrical, minimal and enticing compositions, Beales primarily uses VSCO Cam, Snapseed and Afterglow to edit his shots.

We recently spoke with him about one of his favorites: a photo of his son floating in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland that recently won the children's category in the Mobile Photography Awards.

What circumstances led to you taking that shot?

I was on a travel photography assignment in Iceland for a telecommunications company. I do a lot of photo work in the travel sector and often travel with my partner (and sometimes my kids) on assignments. Both model professionally, so my clients get a photographer as well as a model when they book me. In this case my son was floating in the blue lagoon in a pair of blue armbands watching the steam rising off a geothermal lake. I used a Lifeproof waterproof case to protect my iPhone whilst in the lake and positioned myself behind him so the viewer feels like they are experiencing the same moment he is.

 What did you do with the image afterwards with editing?

I modified brightness, contrast, ambiance and sharpening and added a subtle vignette which helps draw the eye towards the center of the frame. All modifications were made using Snapseed. The water really is that color, so no filter required here.

What are your thoughts on mobile photography in general? 

Apart from being a lot of fun, it's starting to be taken seriously by brands and companies as a means by which they can directly communicate with a user base using apps such as Instagram. This is opening up new revenue streams for photographers who can deliver live photo-led experiences to a global audience using nothing but their net-connected mobile phone. You can't do that with an SLR! It's exciting and good to see it being taken more seriously. [Recently] Alamy, an international stock agency, announced it will now accept photographs taken with mobile phones; a recognition of the quality news images that can now be taken with these devices.

You can see more of Beales' work on his website and follow him on Instagram, @finn.

If you know an interesting mobile photographer who should be featured in our Exposure series, let us know:


Total comments: 15

there are so many editing softwares and professional image retouchers available that the image can be transformed COMPLETELY!
so no surprise here.


I don't think having photos clicked from mobile or a camera does matter. yes, the quality does matter but even mobile cameras with high mega pixels give a good shot..


"....uses VSCO Cam, Snapseed and Afterglow ...". What he means is, "...tries to enhance a crappy photograph...."

What is so different in shooting with a P&S and an iPhone? Oh yes... wireless... nice excuse for marketing and showing off... look! i take pictures with an iPhone!

Edited 5 minutes after posting

OK, this is a nice shot. I'm not sure how it should be a contest winner...
I guess it's good because the POV conveys mood to which most people could relate, the colour palette is eye catching and the composition is balanced.
-- or on the other hand--
maybe the composition is uninspiring and cliche, the colours boring and the composition off, with lack of sky symmetry and the mountain horizon intersecting the kid's head.
Lately, I'm thinking a lot about what sets apart shots like this. Anyone want to educate me please?

PS He considers that vignetting subtle?


So glad dpreview is reminding us on a weekly basis that one can only make artistic photos with an iPhone! plug plug plug

1 upvote

Well other smartphones suck compared to Apple; people who own ugly Samsung Galaxies feel very little inspiration to use it as a poor-quality camera.


My wife and I both shoot simultaneously with 4S and a S3 and I find that no camera stands out. Maybe the 4S is noisier in low light. But they both end up being average decent mobile quality. Where do you get the information to support your claim of the S3 sucking?

Nishi Drew

More and more the need to point out that a photo was taken with a mobile device seems to just be a nudge to let people know "hey, sorry for the quality it's from phone, but it's a great shot otherwise :D"

If there's no disclosure, and a shot like this pops up from a photographer entering a competition, then it would get more people to ask why it doesn't look so good.
By letting the public know you used a poor quality saw and hammer and nails to put together a cabin that doesn't look nearly as nice and well suited for the location... wait that doesn't work it'd still be an ugly cabin and you'd be blaming your lack of skill on the tools


this is my suspicion as well. people state before-hand that it's from a mobile phone and it suddenly "excuses" the poor quality.

It shouldn't, but people do and it does.


Why do people who apparently hate mobile photography read articles and comment on a mobile photography website? It's so weird. I honestly don't get it. Personally, I spend zero time on websites which focus on topics I don't like. You guys come off like people who visit fishing websites but hate fishing. Maybe it's a passive-aggressive sado-masochist kind of thing. Do you also go to concerts to see bands you hate and then stand round saying how much the band sucks? Such an odd use of time. Strange world.

Edited 2 times; latest 4 minutes since posting
1 upvote

@ Daniel Berman
I don't hate mobile photography. I personally really like it. I'm a huge fan of instagram and I enjoy looking at photos being posted there daily. What I am doing though, is entering into discussions on the art. If one goes to any photo community (even pro ones) you will see similar discussions and opinions.

This is how knowledge Is shared and passed around. It's how I got into photography and my other hobbies. you have to be pedantic, opinionated, technical, critical - somewhere in between will be useful info for people to glean.

if all mobile photographers want to do is stand around circle jerking then I'd very quickly drop any pretense of it being art or photography. But it's better than that. Many people will never move beyond mobile photography but for many others, this could be the starting point for something more for them.


I really like his pro photos. This mobile photo is *alright* but his pro collection is stunning.

1 upvote

Why the need for such speed? What's wrong with taking a 'better quality' image on a camera that shoots raw, then processing it in say, LR? You then email it to the patiently waiting world from your work station! Too much to ask?


I think he means clients are willing to pay for social media led efforts through, say, instagram. So they send someone on assignment and while doing *real* photography, he's also taking social media related pictures and updating.

For a company, there's value in that. I doubt anyone would really be willing to pay specifically for someone to travel and take mobile photos. I know I wouldn't. I'd expect pro level results that I can use in marketing materials across the business.

BUT, as an addition, it would be a win/win for both parties. Photographer makes a little extra bit of coin and company gets live updated content.

1 upvote

He should get a Canon 6D. It has a wireless function so it automatically sends photos to the mobile phone. That way, he can instantly upload 6D-quality photos to Instagram, and have a 6D-quality raw file for future editing.

1 upvote
Total comments: 15
About us