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
Alessandro Gaja

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
Aung Ko Latt
A woman lies on the floor in a patch of light next to a window
Sergio Ricardo
Three people with masks on sunbathe on balconies
Santiago Martinez de Septien
A woman closes her eyes and rests her head next to a window with curtains
Yalim Vural
A father sleeps while his small child looks out a window overlooking a city
Sarah Burton
A woman makes shadow puppets of birds from her couch
Denise Lobont
An outline of a person is drawn in salt on a cutting board next to tomatoes
Paolo Valerio Caldarulo
A fridge overflowing with fruit and flowers
Yana Anokhina
An orange leg next to a yellow wall and blue skylight
Alberto Lara
A face is seen through a vase with green leaves
Ali Jahanara
A series of portraits of a man sitting on a chair
Emanuele Brutti
A small boy in pajamas lies on a bed
Loulou Daki
A deer lying in the grass with white wildflowers
Vikesh Kapoor
A boy scratches his head while standing in shallow water
Erika Larsen
A child sitting on a table is blown out by flash
Blaire Hawes
A man in overalls and a striped shirt stands in a kitchen
Tadek Chudy
A girl in a white dress looks out at the street
Qianshan Wan
An older man wearing VR glasses sits on a couch
Elena Haliczer
A child in silhouette sites on a roof
Meredith Andrews
A woman holding a child lays on a bed
Mical Valusek
A woman holds a child on a train
Aqua Lin