6 Manila Photographers Talk Camera Phones and Their Favorite Photography Apps


July 11, 2017
Read Time: 6 minutes

These highly sought-after creatives reveal how they get the most out of their smartphones



From print to digital to the latest in mirrorless camera technology: these talented individuals make up a generation that’s grown with the constantly evolving format, learning how to bend the rules just enough to make the old new again and striking a balance between the fundamental and the forward-looking. The end result of such resourcefulness? It could be a summer-themed outdoor shoot that was actually taken on a rainy day. It could also be a series of stunning magazine covers shot with just a camera phone.


Ahead, the six Filipino photographers who could pull these off among other things. They’re living proof that a good eye and thriftiness will trump being decked out in expensive equipment any day. And here, we get to pick their brains and raid their smartphones for apps. What do they use to bring their professional a-game to mobile photography? Scroll through to find out.



Jerick Sanchez, @jericksanchez

I [currently] have two Instagram accounts: My @jerickpaulsanchez account is purely [about] what I see in my daily commute shot in a 16:9 ratio and my other account @jericksanchez is for my professional work. My professional works are mostly portraits and commissioned projects. My aesthetic is classic, portraits that are desaturated or black and whites.


His Style in Six Tiles

via @jericksanchez on Instagram


When it comes to photography apps, Jerick loves…

Instagram and Huawei’s P9 camera in monochrome mode. Instagram gives me inspiration via the people I follow. I like it because you [also get to] directly edit photos and post things in real-time. The Huawei P9 Monochrome camera is my favorite because its black and white feature is way better than the other camera phones. It has a really dramatic contrast and shadow to it.


On camera phone tricks of the trade, Jerick says…

Know your aesthetic and [grow] from there. Never be afraid of composition. Stay inspired and aspire to do better.


Taken by Jerick using a HUAWEI P9:



Jeff Ong, @jeffong_

My approach when it comes to photography is minimalist. I love to keep things clean and simple, so the focus remains on the subject and its details. My strength when it comes to photography [is] fashion, but I am currently expanding my skillset to food photography as well.


His Style in Six Tiles

via @jeffong_ on Instagram


Jeff’s top favorites are…

When it comes to editing my photos, I use the Adobe Lightroom and Snapseed apps since they are very easy to use and you can adjust detail by detail.


When using a smartphone to take photos, Jeff says…

Know your subject in order to frame it well. Do some research and preparation before the shoot (backgrounds, props, etc.) Lastly, just keep it simple and be sure to have proper lighting for your photo.


Shot by Jeff using an iPhone 7 Plus:



Tarish Zamora, @tarishzamora

I like editing photos with a darker treatment—a bit bluish, less saturated and contrast-heavy.


Her Style in Six Tiles

via @tarishzamora on Instagram


Tarish’s favorite apps:

When taking photos, I usually just use my iPhone’s normal camera, but my favorite photography application for editing is VSCOcam! I love how it can achieve the treatment and the tones that I want my photos to have. It’s also very easy to use. My usual go-to presets are HB1, HB2 or M5 and I just adjust the settings.


For Tarish, camera phone photography can be made easier when you…

First, always make sure that everything’s straight when taking photos using your phone camera. People usually forget to check the alignment of the photo, which can make a huge difference. Second, always find your light. Your phone camera can only do so much. Make sure to look for different light resources (may it be normal or artificial) when taking photos with your phone camera to make it well-lit and less grainy.


Photo taken with an iPhone 6s:



Dookie Ducay, @dookieducay

“I strive for the kind of photography that’s clean, sharp and proportioned, but still communicates the mood and beauty of the subject.”


His Style in Six Tiles

via @dookieducay on Instagram


Dookie loves using…

Beauty Plus for quick skin touch-ups especially for portraits shot with my phone. The app can smoothen the skin but still retain the texture and you can adjust it based on your preference. The other one [I use] is Snapseed. The app can do selective editing: you can adjust a specific color or part of the photo, [for example].


Dookie’s phone photography tips and tricks:

Using the raw photo option on your camera is always [a good idea]: It’s like the negative of a photo, so you can retain the texture, color and exposure. Second tip: as much as possible, try to use the manual model of your camera. You can play with the shutter speed and ISO to give you a specific effect (for example, if you want to do light painting.) Lastly, when taking portraits using your phone, try to move around and try different angles and perspectives.


Photographed by Dookie using a Huawei P20 Pro:



Erwin Canlas, @erwincanlas

“As a fashion photographer, I can say that my aesthetic is very juvenile: unorthodox and features weird kinds of cropping. It’s also clean as people often point out.”


His Style in Six Tiles

via @erwincanlas on Instagram


Erwin always uses…

VSCO and of course, the well-loved Instagram. I love VSCO because it’s a very easy to use photo editing app (with amazing customizable presets) and because I get to emulate film photos with it. I love Instagram because it’s an app that I use to showcase my work and show a little bit of what’s going on with my life.


Erwin’s camera phone tips and tricks:

Composition is key: It's what makes your subject look interesting. Whether you tilt your camera a little bit, go full-on close-up or do weird kinds of cropping, these are tools to make your photos stand out and they’re tools to create a story. One photography trick is to smudge the lens of your camera phone: it creates this hazy dazed kind of feel.


Shot with an iPhone 6 plus:

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Shaira Luna, @shairaluna

Even though I do a lot of commercial/advertising and editorial work (posted separately on @shairaluna_manila), I try my best to make my personal Instagram account a good reflection of the images and stories I enjoy creating. I think it’s quite easy to tell from my personal feed that I’m really comfortable shooting many different styles, although people say they remember or recognize my retro styling and photography the most.


Her Style in Six Tiles

via @shairaluna on Instagram


Shaira’s go-to apps:

The two main photography apps I have on my phone are Snapseed and PhotoGrid. Since most of the photos for my social media feed are already prepared on my desktop before being transferred to my phone, I find that these two apps are enough for any on-the-spot minor tweaks and resizing/cropping that I decide I need to do. They are simple to use, and are also sufficient for adjusting photos that were taken on my phone.


Shaira says…

I’m definitely more used to DSLRs than camera phones (I really get nervous when people ask me to use their phones! LOL), so when I use the latter for taking photos, I try my best to utilize the Manual Mode in order to have more control over the images. Of course, when there’s no time to fiddle with that, I flip back to Auto, find good light and just try to get the best framing possible!


Taken with an Asus ZenFone Zoom:



Be sure to show these artists some love and follow them on Instagram.



Art Alexandra Lara

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