Improve Your Mobile Photography Skills This Chinese New Year

Includes photos, tips, and inspiration from 11 mobile photographers.
(credit: Khairul Amin)

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Festivals are the best time to practice your photography skills and there is no better time than this upcoming Chinese New Year to flex your smartphone’s camera capabilities, record unforgettable memories, and impress others on social media.

To help you stand out from the basic festive photos that are sure to flood the feeds this coming season, here are some tips, ideas, and examples of photos from 11 different photographers that could inspire you the next time you feel like a shutterbug.

All the photographs featured here are taken using the iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro. 

Hometown Beauty

Photographer Louis Gan captures the simple and unique beauty of his hometown in his compositions.

To him, the name “Royal Town of Klang” brings up the image of a town steeped in history and lined with heritage architecture. 

Louis uses Night mode and Ultra Wide Angle to capture the contrast of old buildings lit by modern lights, a snapshot of his home town as he sees it, a place where the old and the new meet. 

A Touch Of Perspective

Annice Lyn fell in love with photography when she was getting her architectural degree and you can see it in the photos. 

She takes inspiration from architecture and uses imagery, light, shadows, and texture, to compose her images. 

To make the pictures she took at the Sin Sze Si temple look just right, Annice used the native photo editing app on the phone to add little touches such as increasing the contrast and bringing out the detail from the initial image. 

Immortalising Traditions

Architect and photographer Sher Reen Lim likes to focus on forgotten traditions and looks to her own family for inspiration. 

She used the time she got to spend with her loved one visiting the Petaling Jaya Kwan Inn Teng, shopping for traditional biscuits at Fung Wong Biscuits, and even watching her mother bake at home to take photos. 

Her advice when taking photos using a smartphone is to always use natural light, shoot with an Ultra Wide Angle in tight spaces, and shoot flat lays in Portrait mode at approximately 45 degrees – instead of the usual top-down. 

The Lion Dance

The traditional lion dance is always a spectacular scene and Ahady Rezan loves them.

A photographer and a graphic designer by trade, Ahady picked Central Market as his “hunting ground” to catch performances. 

He also went to just outside China Town, which is nearby to look for more.

A Corner Shop

Photographer and busy mum Shaz Sharif picked a shop called The Heritage Gallery at Pasar Seni as her subject. 

The once lively Pasar Seni is less so this festive season, thanks to Covid-19, however, shops like The Heritage Gallery with its 30-year history, have a lot of stories to share. 

Started by a married couple over 30 years ago as a booth, The Heritage Gallery is now a shop run by their 24-year-old daughter, Yen.


Photographer Anuar Yusli combines a variety of nostalgic locations with new perspectives to get his shots. 

Chin Woo Stadium, for example, is one of the earliest sporting facilities in Malaysia and the first to own an Olympic-sized swimming pool in the country. 

He also took pictures at Pasar Seni and Chong Kong Tong Temple.

His tip is to take photos from outside your regular sitting or standing position by shooting your subject from high or low angles.

He also advises beginners to turn on the grid feature on their camera app and follow the rule of thirds by placing the photo’s main subjects along these lines to create more visually compelling images.

Finally, find leading Lines by incorporating long, straight lines into your photos that guide the viewer’s eyes to your image and help them make sense of it.

Use All You Got 

Photographer Sufian Ghaffar shares photos of Central Market shop owner Kraft Tangan Adik, also known as @Lot4dreamer on Instagram. 

He uses his photos to highlight forgotten places that can become tourist attractions again.

He recommends that mobile photographers use simple tools on their smartphones to make basic adjustments. 

Sufian also says that to get the best photo, you must pay close attention to framing and angle positioning and try using the different lenses to get different types of shots.

Take Your Time

Photographer Khairul Amin revisits Chin Woo Stadium where he saw his favourite music band playback in 2012. 

He remembered how big the hall was back then, and how it remained unchanged for 68 years since the stadium opened. 

For him, it is always helpful to have an idea before going out to shoot and imagine the photos he wants to take in advance.

He said that it is always prudent to remind ourselves to use all the features that are provided in the camera such as the Portrait mode, Ultra-wide mode, Low-light mode, and more.

However, you would also need to go out and explore, step out of your comfort zone and look for unusual shots or subjects. You might surprise yourself.

Finally remember to always tap the screen, lock the subject and manually adjust the exposure by sliding up or down depending on the shot’s condition. 

Find the ideal exposure depending on the propriety of the location before taking the shot. 

Go Further

Travel Photographer Zarnizar shares his most nostalgic locations including Central Market, Pekan Cina or Chinatown in Alor Setar Kedah, Thean Hou Temple, Kwai Chai Hong and Tasik Melati in Perlis. 

He finds using the Ultra Wide Angle and Night mode helped him capture dramatic and unique photos while Smart HDR makes every picture look amazing. 

When it comes to tips, Zarnizar says that more mobile photographers should know the lenses on their cameras better and try using the different lenses and apertures on their phones to achieve different results.

He also advises photographers to take their time to do framing of their shots, Activate the Grid tools in Setting and when shooting outdoors in low light, use the Night mode.

To take your mobile photography a step further, he says to use the native editing features in Photos and use the Vibrant and Warm Photographic Styles to make photos appear more warm & vibrant.

A Story Behind The Photos

Photographer Naive Farhan shares the images of Aunt May who has been running an antique store for 25 years near Petaling Street. 

Because he was shooting with a phone, Naive was able to take all the pix without being intrusive and the Night mode allowed him to take great photos around the store and Petaling Street.

Worth The Wait

Street photographer Amsyar Naaif picked Guan Di temple, Lorong Panggung, Sin Sze Si Ya temple as his subject. 

He notes that “the best time to capture light rays coming through the temple is between 9 am to 10 am”. He shoots using an Ultrawide lens.

Amsyar’s tips for better photography are: when planning for street photography, you need to be patient. Wait for the perfect moment and always have your phone on hand to capture unexpected moments of wonder.

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