22 Inspiring Photos That You Will Not Believe Were Taken On A Phone

It seems like creativity flourishes in the quiet.

Family of four has dinner at a table through a long lens

The coronavirus pandemic — and the restrictions that have come with it — has changed the way people work in many fields, and photography is no exception. For some photographers, the time in isolation has led to some creative solutions for doing their work safely and from a distance.

The PHmuseum Open Call for Mobile Photography has yielded some true gems that reflect on isolation, connection, nature, and technology. Full disclosure, I was a judge for this open call, and I can honestly say that the other judges and I had a tough time picking finalists. We ended up with a short list of 55 images and managed to narrow it down to 12 finalists, which were announced on July 28. The first-prize image by Alessandro Gaja depicts a family having a meal, taken through a long lens that distorts the perspective. "The edge of the circle created a small world within the image, a world of their own, somehow distanced from the larger world. Just like that, the image of one family becomes a universal image," Sarker Protick, one of the judges, observed.

The images were all taken using a mobile phone, and while the photo did not have to be taken during the pandemic, we did want to reflect the spirit of the time: the boredom, the surreality, and the intimacy of suddenly being in close quarters. Here are some of the final selects, and a few favorites just for fun.


A boy looks out a window next to a bed
A woman lies on the floor in a patch of light next to a window
Three people with masks on sunbathe on balconies
A woman closes her eyes and rests her head next to a window with curtains
A father sleeps while his small child looks out a window overlooking a city
A woman makes shadow puppets of birds from her couch
An outline of a person is drawn in salt on a cutting board next to tomatoes
A fridge overflowing with fruit and flowers
An orange leg next to a yellow wall and blue skylight
A face is seen through a vase with green leaves
A series of portraits of a man sitting on a chair
A small boy in pajamas lies on a bed
A deer lying in the grass with white wildflowers
A boy scratches his head while standing in shallow water
A child sitting on a table is blown out by flash
A man in overalls and a striped shirt stands in a kitchen
A girl in a white dress looks out at the street
An older man wearing VR glasses sits on a couch
A child in silhouette sites on a roof
A woman holding a child lays on a bed
A woman holds a child on a train