Back to Basics

iPhone 11 Pro

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. You’d think that with all this virus stuff I would have more time but somehow it turned into the opposite. Korea didn’t really slow down much, yet we struggled in similar ways to the rest of the world. It has been a hard couple of months.

iPhone 11 Pro

I’ve realized a lot of things during this time. A lot about life. A lot about my life.

A lot about my place and trying to find it. I don’t know where I am or where I’m going and that is hard. I thought I knew, but I don’t.

iPhone 11 Pro

To be straight, I love my life in general. I love the city I live in. I love the people around me. Most importantly, I love my wife.

It’s my professional life that I’m not sure about. Where will I be in ten years? How will I get there?

I envy people that have these answers.

Photographically, I’ve gone back to the basics of basics. I take my digital photos with my phone and enjoy it. I shoot most of my film photos with very basic film cameras. Am I taking great photos? Not really.

iPhone 11 Pro

Am I taking photos? Yes. I’m not posting very many. Somehow I feel slightly over all that. It’s funny when it comes to things like cameras. I love them as toys and people that have been here long will remember when I changed cameras once a week. It’s not really been like that for a while and the want to do so has also waned. Perhaps I’ve started thinking differently about photography.

Perhaps I’m just poorer?

iPhone 11 Pro

“But you’re using a very expensive phone?”

Well, I live in Korea where having a “good” phone isn’t really an optional thing. I got the 11 Pro because it was on sale when the SE came out. It was the first time in years I’d actually finished a phone contract. The irony that I ended up with green even though I can’t see green is funny in itself.

iPhone 11 Pro

Taking photos with my phone again has been somewhat liberating. I think phones have become so good that there is no longer any need for a compact camera. For those worried about the “feeling” of using a camera I highly recommend this case:

iPhone 11 Pro

It’s the official Apple battery case. I know it’s bulky and also expensive (was a birthday gift) but it also adds a shutter button to the iPhone and gives it a grip that makes it feel more like a camera. The camera button launches the camera from any mode. It’s really a no brainer accessory for me. I actually hate the “feeling” of these apple silicone cases but I use it anyway because of that shutter button.

iPhone 11 Pro

It makes capturing the “decisive moment” so much easier. If I see something I just hold the button for half a second and shoot. It’s faster to get into a shooting position than any compact camera I’ve used. If you pay attention to light, use the portrait mode in the right situation, and allow the constraints to let you think creatively I think the iPhone or any smartphone is more than good enough of a tool for most people.


Anyway, I don’t have much more for today. The moral of the story which I haven’t clearly told. If life has you down and you’re not in a position to get a new camera or something maybe just go back to basics. I sold a lot of my cameras to keep up with life and honestly, I feel fine. It’s been fine. Maybe things are even more clear.

Shoot with your phone if that’s what you have.

There are more important things than the next camera or lens.

Life goes on.



I’ve opened a series of online classes. Students so far have been very satisfied and we’ve had a blast exploring all sorts of topics in photography.

If you’re interested and want more information click:



  1. Hi Josh
    you may have switched to the iPhone as a camera, but your eyes (and heart and mind) are still very much yours.
    3-6-8-9 in particular are totally JT-esque, with one change: mellower and more domestic. And what’s not to like in that…
    As to the phone, interesting thought, this of the battery back. I have never warmed up to phone-based photography precisely because of the grip handicap, I should check your solution to see if it breaks my personal spell. Having said that, who needs a phone when one can use a GR? [grin]
    Take care and enjoy your love and home.

    1. Giovanni!

      Hope you’re well. I actually just got your email. Hope things are getting sorted! As for the Ricoh, I know where you stand on that haha. I would say, I prefer the extra pocket space of not having to carry one, though. Phone will be in a pocket anyway. The case I mentioned is bulky, but certainly makes it feel a lot more like a camera to me.

  2. Lovely shots. I’ve been using my phone a lot since and during our lockdown in EU. That and my Fuji, have nothing else and don’t need anything else… thanks for the tip about the grip, will check it out too 🙂

    1. Thanks dude. Korea hasn’t really had a lockdown at all, but, this change in my shooting has definitely come directly from the fact that it was simply too expensive to keep cameras and stuff when our house or other things needed the money more. I think I feel slightly liberated by the whole thing though, so not all bad.

  3. I think the lesson here might be to integrate photography into a natural kind of living and expression, rather than to put it on a pedestal, or center your identity around it. Let your photographs center their identity around you. I find these kind of photographs more interesting lately than the fancy ones. I do still have a compact camera, a Ricoh GR, as I find the way it handles color much better than my phone, but if you stick to B&W, the phone does a good job. I’ll always prefer the way a camera feels in my hand.

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