Mumbai-based Mitsun Soni, a freelance photographer, had no clue he was among six global winners of Apple’s iPhone night mode photo challenge. The winning photograph, captured by Soni from his iPhone 11 Pro, will be featured on Apple’s Instagram page, and be part of a global billboard ad campaign. Soni, who is an avid traveler, has shot some of the biggest artists including Katy Perry, Jay Z, Coldplay and Justin Bieber, among others.
In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, Soni talks about his inspirations, passion for photography, and the changing landscape of mobile photography. Edited excerpts:
What was your thought when you clicked that image?
I came across this beautiful dream while strolling in Dubai. I was spellbound when I spotted that bright red tree in the middle of the desert. It felt like a scene from another planet. Being a photographer, I couldn’t stop myself from capturing it.
Why did you choose to submit this photo?
I submitted my best three night mode pictures. Apple selected this one. It’s my favorite and the moment I took this shot, I knew this was a winner.
How do you approach your subject in photography?
The most important thing is to connect with the subject and interact. Try to learn more about it and see what attracts you to it. Then show your perspective and story through the image.
Mobile photography has evolved over the past few years. As a professional photographer and someone with an eye for photography, what is your take on modern camera photography?
I think mobile photography and smartphones have become so much better than professional cameras that DSLRs are going down in popularity. I would suggest people get a phone because it will be easier for you. When they buy a professional camera, they don’t end up using all the features anyway. So it ends up lying at home or inside the bag. In my case I am traveling, I see myself more often taking pictures on the iPhone 11 Pro than using a professional camera.
Do you recommend an average person to buy a professional camera?
It’s very difficult to distinguish the difference between a phone picture and a picture shot with a professional camera. I would suggest an average user take advantage of this new technology and the convenience it brings along.
Take the case of the iPhone 11 Pro. It has three lenses to begin with: Wide, telephoto, and standard. The colours are true to life and the smart HDR works brilliantly. The night mode is a game-changer, it basically lets you see in darkness.
What would your top 5 smartphone camera tips be for our readers?
1.) Composition is key. Where the subject is placed in the frame makes or breaks an image. I would advise you to Google some compositional rules and try implementing them in your pictures. Also, remember rules are meant to be broken so don’t shy away from trying something new.
2.) Colours and light add character to an image. Train your eye to look for these elements in your frame. Also, too many colours could distract from the subject. You can also try having a monotone image where a single colour is dominant in the picture.
3.) Perspective: One subject could be shot from various different perspectives. Don’t be afraid to shoot the same subject from varied angles. Try stepping back or getting close. It could give a fresh perspective to your image.
4.) Framing: Crop the image to remove unnecessary elements from your picture as they could distract from the main subject.
And most importantly, take lots of pictures – someone wise once said, your first 10,000 pictures are your worst. And in this time of digital, I would take that number way higher. So take a lot of pictures. Remember: Photography is all about training your eye.
What are the editing apps you use personally?
There are many photo editing apps available, but I personally use the following photo editing apps: Lightroom, VSCO, Snapseed, Mextures, and Afterlight.
What is your favourite aspect of being a photographer?
Well, I would say sharing my perspective with the world using no words but just imagery. One of the exciting parts of being a photographer is to travel, meet amazing people from different walks of life and have new experiences.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
I have always been a technology geek for as long as I can remember. My passion for photography started when mobile phones with buttons came out with decent cameras. The ease of clicking good pictures attracted me to it.
Seeing beautiful pictures being shared on photo-sharing sites inspired me to take a go at it after which I was sure that this is exactly what I want to do.
Are you inspired by any other photographer?
My inspiration comes from various places and experiences. And if you look at my pictures, they are all so different from each other. Of course, I grew up knowing and learning about masters like Henri Cartier-Bresson. But at the same time, I get amused by photographers like Dan Tom, Alice Gao, and Zacharie Rabehi. But be it an old or new age photographer it’s their journey and growth that inspires me more than their style of photography.
What advice would you give to budding photographers?
My advice to all budding photographers is simple and straightforward: You don’t need a professional camera to make beautiful pictures. Start with what you have. There are plentiful free resources online to learn photography. But don’t get too much into the technicalities right at the start. Take it at your own sweet pace and enjoy the process. And those who want to pursue it as a career, always know your worth and never settle for anything less. Learn business ethics, it will take you a long way.
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