CNN Photos

‘Vivid Hong Kong’ through an iPhone

Professional photographer Palani Mohan traded his bulky camera for one that weighs less than 5 ounces as he captured the essence of Hong Kong through the lens of an iPhone.

“Like most iPhone users, initially I treated its camera function as a toy,” Mohan said. “But quickly I realized my phone could be used to tell stories in a way impossible with conventional camera equipment.”

The inspiration for shooting in Hong Kong with an iPhone came after using the slim camera phone for an assignment. Utilizing Hipstamatic, a photo app that allows the user to change the lens, flash and film for each photo, Mohan was forced to slow down and think before shooting. The technology, he said, encouraged him to approach the Hong Kong project in a new way.

“One of the aims of a documentary photographer is to be invisible - not to interfere or influence the subject, to watch and not be watched,” Mohan said. “I can not think of a better way to do this than use a camera on a phone.”

In 1999, Mohan captured Hong Kong through the lens of a film camera using black-and-white TriX film, which he published in a book, “Hong Kong Life: An intimate portrait.” Looking at the city on a color screen gave him a fresh, colorful perspective of a city that many consider to be grey. His new book, “Vivid Hong Kong,” will be published on November 24.

“I believe the camera on the phone is going to be a big part of documentary photography in the future,” Mohan said, referencing some of the work done in Libya. “It's not going to take over, but it's going to play a bigger and bigger part.

“Photography will never be about gigabytes and megapixels,” Mohan said. “It’s about light, composition, and most importantly of all – the moment.”

- Elizabeth I. Johnson, CNN