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These Gorgeous Photos Prove That Sometimes The Best Camera Is Your Phone

"I am truly in awe of how all the different elements work together to elevate mobile photography to a different dimension."

Posted on August 17, 2021, at 2:35 p.m. ET

What makes a good photo? This is something that we undeniably think about a lot here on the BuzzFeed News photo desk. I love the mobile phone photography contest put on by PHmuseum, which solicits entries from photographers of all levels. The results are always super fun, proving you don't need a fancy camera to take a good photo — just a sense of good light.

The moments captured in this contest are often beautiful takes on the everyday: The first-place winner this year, Prarthna Singh, photographed her mother in their garden during lockdown, while the second-place winner, Stephanie Noritz, created a dreamy scene of her family at home.

"It’s a simple, candid family moment, but the overall tone and ambience feel like a painting or a movie storyboard. What surprises me, Stephanie Noritz created it remotely using a mobile phone," said Cristian Rahadiansyah, the festival director of the Jakarta International Photo Festival and one of the judges for the contest this year. (Full disclosure: I was a judge of this contest last year, and we had an agreement with PHmuseum to highlight some images from this year's event.)

"In many ways, this simple moment captures the feeling of lockdown during the pandemic. It’s disorienting, and the sense of longing is palpable," Sara Urbaez, another judge, said about Singh's work. "I am truly in awe of how all the different elements work together to elevate mobile photography to a different dimension."

Below are some of our favorites from this year's entries.

A woman lying on the ground in a garden with a hand to her head, seemingly at rest
Prarthna Singh
A smiling girl holding flowers hugs a doctor in scrubs through plastic
Mithai Afrige Chowdhury
A domestic scene with one woman standing at the window, another seated working on needlework, and third reclining on a bed
Stephanie Noritz
A young man covered in glitter and wearing a see-through T-shirt standing in a yard
Denise Marcotte
Two side-by-side images show a person with a digital face mask holding a cat and a woman in a striped bathing suit looking out over the sea
Giacomo Infantino / Cristina Arzadun
Four women in burkas standing on the seashore holding up their phones and taking selfies
Forough Alaei
A reflection in a window of a woman looking out over the city
Fynta Sidime
A young boy in mid-air seems to balance their tip-toes on a cloud
Simone Bramante
A person diving into a pool with socks on above the water
Pavlo Kyryliuk
Two side-by-side images show a woman seated in a pool with a floral bathing suit and a wig, and a person in full-body plastic wrap, wearing glasses and a fake mustache
Meredith Andrews / Matt Gold
A girl in a dress hangs over a fence
Cindy Blazevic
A boy with tousled blonde hair walking through a windy wheat field
Edu Ponces
A girl sleeping on the floor with a dog at night
Kelley Dallas
A slice of a crystal being held up to the light
Varvara Gorbunova
Two side-by-side images show a woman looking out the window with a strip of light on her face, and a girl with a sunburn showing mask lines
George Kamelakis / Natalia Davtyan
A woman in silhouette in front of a window in the dark
Aqua Lin
A woman wearing a head wrap and holding a hand to her face crosses paths with a man outside
Bettie Coetzee
A man in a shirt and tie with a cap with the Israeli flag on it stands in a parking lot
Houston Cofield
Someone is reflected in a microwave atop a garbage can on the street
Albert Alemany
Two side-by-side photos show a blurry person holding up pencils in front of their eyes and spectral light through the clouds
Kunkun Liu / Pippa Healy
A boy asleep on a sofa with a cloth doily over his face
Mauro Mercandelli


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.