Instagram features a lot of amazing photographers. And many of them don’t use a DSLR, or a mirrorless camera – they simply use a smartphone.
Smartphone photography isn’t like DSLR photography. It’s less about the technical quality of the shot. Instead, it’s about the mood, the composition, the colors, and the texture.
And some smartphone photographers are masters of the genre.
So, who are the absolute best Instagram photographers using their smartphones?
That’s what we went to find out. We scoured Instagram for the best of the best, and this article features our results.
In other words, this list includes the best smartphone photographers on Instagram.
Prepare to be inspired. And make sure you follow all these photographers. That way, you can get amazing photos sent to your Instagram feed – every single day.
Let’s get started.
Top Instagram Smartphone Photographers
- 1. Jose Luis Saez (@jl_saez)
- 2. Chas Read (@chasread)
- 3. Inger Van Dyke (@ingervandyke_official)
- 4. Martin Lindner (@mart.lindner)
- 5. Lloyd Fox (@lloyd1fox)
- 6. Mike Mantx (@mikemantx)
- 7. Mariko Klug (@mariko_klug)
- 8. Cat Cliffe (@bodneyboo)
- 9. Dina Alfasi (@dinalf)
- 10. Elaine Taylor (@sunflowerof21)
- Getting Inspiration from the Best Smartphone Photographers on Instagram
Jose Luis Saez is a black and white smartphone photographer who shoots almost exclusively in Spain.
And his work is breathtaking.
Saez is a master of using light to create intense, dramatic images. His photos feature high-contrast: deep, rich blacks and bright whites.
Jose Luis Saez loves to incorporate lines into his photos. He often positions his main subject at the end of a line, so that the eye is drawn straight down the line to the point of interest.
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Saez also juxtaposes huge buildings with comparatively tiny people. This gives his smartphone photography a sense of majesty and awe that you rarely find on Instagram.
Chas Read is a fantastic black and white smartphone photographer in his own right; his work produces a sense of mood and atmosphere that most photography lacks.
Read is a street photographer, through and through. His subjects include buildings, people, statues, and more.
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Like Saez, Chas Read loves contrast: bright whites and dark blacks, helped along with strong backlighting. But while Saez keeps a balance of blacks and whites, Read favors the blacks. His work often features small patches of white, surrounded by near-complete blackness.
That’s where the mood comes in. Read’s use of dark blacks lends his photography a sense of subtle drama and sadness – an effect that’s tough to achieve, but Read pulls off beautifully.
It’s rare to find good smartphone portrait photographers. This is primarily due to the limitations of smartphone technology: The sensors are too small to create that compelling background blur portrait photographers love, and the manufacturer’s attempts to compensate (with Portrait mode) have resulted in very inconsistent bokeh.
Yet Inger Van Dyke is a portrait photographer who has managed to bend smartphones to her will. She produces amazing portraits of people all around the globe.
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One of the best things about Inger Van Dyke’s work is her dedication to the subject. Each of her photos gives off a sense of comfort. It’s clear that Van Dyke knows how to put her subjects at ease. And this has another amazing result: Her subjects feel free to show their emotions. Her portrait photos aren’t just technically excellent images. They tell a story.
Look at Martin Lindner’s Instagram account, and your mind will be blown.
Lindner specializes in photos that are mindbending. He takes beautiful urban scenes and turns them into something out of an Escher painting, simply by adding a single character.
Here’s how it works:
Lindner finds scenes that are intensely geometric, full of lines and shapes.
Then he positions a person within those scenes. But he doesn’t ask them to strike a standard pose. Instead, he makes sure that his subject is in some way abnormal; that they’re contorted in some strange way, that they’re jumping or falling or lying down.
And the results speak for themselves.
Notice that Lindner is also a master of smartphone composition. He carefully places his main subject with the scene as an anchor point, and he ensures that everything around the subject balances out the shot.
That way, he’s able to capture a technically stunning image – and one that you’ll want to spend hours looking at.
Lloyd Fox is a professional photographer for a newspaper during the day – but in his spare time, he works on his smartphone photography.
Fox is a street photographer, and his work frequently features people standing alone, surrounded by graphic objects. Sometimes, Fox uses buildings around his main subject. Other times, Fox prefers objects from the environment, such as plants or fences.
Lloyd Fox loves to incorporate the sky into his images. In fact, the sky is his main source of whites for his scenes; he’ll often frame his main subject against a bright sky to create dramatic silhouettes.
And speaking of silhouettes: Fox rarely captures images with detail. Instead, he drops his exposures to strip his subjects of detail (while the background remains a bright white).
Mike Mantx is a landscape photographer from the American Southwest, one who specializes in powerful compositions and subtle light.
Take a look at his sweeping landscape photos and you’ll see something unique: Mantz often avoids the classic ‘foreground anchor, stunning background’ approach. Instead, he searches for layers, and uses these layers to lead the eye into the background. It lends a more two-dimensional feel to his images, as the viewer takes in the entire photo at once.
It’s original, and that’s what makes it so compelling.
Plus, Mantx has a secret weapon of sorts. He’s not just a photographer of breathtaking landscapes. He also likes to shoot subtle scenes: aspens lined up in a forest, tree trunks against bright fall yellows.
And these subtle shots wouldn’t work without Mantx’s complete mastery over color. He knows how to isolate colors in a scene. He knows how to create contrast.
All in all, he knows how to create incredible photos.
When you look at Mariko Klug’s Instagram account, you know right away:
This is a smartphone photography master.
Mariko Klug is a landscape photographer, but not the usual kind. Rather than shooting mountains and seascapes, Klug concentrates on rural and forest scenes. And she injects them with such intense drama that it’s hard to look away.
Sunflowers with ominous clouds overhead.
Horses in a pasture at sunset.
Swans on a lake, surrounded by trees and mist.
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What’s so astonishing about Klug’s work is how she manages to combine such dramatic skies and light with such tranquil foreground elements. The foreground and the background work together in complete harmony to create truly jaw-dropping photos.
Klug’s also an expert at post-processing. It’s impossible to get that moody, atmospheric look she favors without a bit of clever tweaking. And Klug is transparent about her use of Mextures, which adds textures and therefore induces further drama.
Cat Cliffe is a landscape photographer in Britain who primarily shoots forest and rural landscapes.
What’s special about Cliffe’s photography is her use of the sky to create mood. She’ll use the last rays of the sun to produce uplifting, golden shots. Then she’ll emphasize clouds on a dark horizon for a dramatic forest scene.
Cat Cliffe is also a post-processing expert. She adds textures and other overlays to her photos to complement the dark scenery. She occasionally uses compositing to feature additional subjects.
Finally, Cliffe knows how to use color masterfully. She makes sure to keep her photos single-toned or duo-toned, which produces a powerful sense of artistry.
Dina Alfasi is one of the best smartphone photographers on Instagram; working in Israel, she captures candid images of people going about their daily lives.
Technically, Alfasi is a street photographer, though “public transport” photographer may be a more accurate description, because she loves to capture people relaxing on the bus and train. Alfasi focuses on the character in people’s faces, as well as their contemplative expressions (she often photographs people deep in thought).
One of the best things about Alfasi’s work is how she isn’t afraid to get up close and personal – her shots are undoubtedly taken inches from her subjects. But at the same time, her images don’t appear posed, nor do her subjects look uncomfortable. It’s as if Alfasi is invisible, photographing people in their own little worlds.
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If you look at Alfasi’s portfolio, you’ll immediately notice her deliberate use of color. Alfasi relies on desaturated, faded tones and warm hues to enhance the sense of comfort and simplicity in her photos. In fact, if you like the color grading in Alfasi’s photos, I recommend you look at her descriptions; for every photo, she gives the precise VSCO filter she used to achieve the look.
Elaine Taylor is one of those photographers whose work you see and never forget.
Taylor is a portrait photographer of sorts, but her work tends to be much more candid than posed. More often than not, her images feature her sons, often engaged in some activity (walking, swimming, or listening to music).
Yet Taylor is no standard portrait photographer. What makes her work unique is her use of bright, vivid, knockout colors. There’s not a dull photo in her portfolio. Instead, her images feature piercing blues (usually sky or water), intense yellows (often flowers), and deep greens (mostly grasses and plants). When combined with her portrait subjects, the bright colors give her images an almost surreal feeling, like you’re in a Seussian book and can’t escape (not that you’d want to!).
Note that Elaine Taylor rarely includes more than two or three major colors in her photos. She keeps the colors simple and contrasting so that they emphasize one another. And she uses these colors to make her main subject stand out, because skin tones really pop off the saturated backgrounds.
Of course, none of these photos would work without expert composition skills, and Taylor has those, too. She carefully places her subject within the frame as an anchor point.
The resulting shots are just stunning.
Getting Inspiration from the Best Smartphone Photographers on Instagram
While there are a lot of talented Instagram smartphone photographers, a few stand out.
So go and follow them! They produce amazing photos every single day – it’s a great way to find inspiration!
There are a number of amazing smartphone photographers on Instagram. For street photography, I recommend checking out Jose Luis Saez and Lloyd Fox, both of whom are composition and lighting experts. For portrait photography, look at Dina Alfasi, Elaine Taylor, and Inger Van Dyke, all of whom produce truly unique, compelling images. And for landscape photography, you can’t go wrong with Mariko Klug, Mike Mantz, or Cat Cliffe, all of whom are masters at creating powerful, atmospheric images.
There are several wonderful iPhone photographers on Instagram. Jose Luis Saez is an amazing black and white street photographer; Dina Alfasi is an incredible street/portrait photographer; Mariko Klug is a stunning landscape photographer. All of these photographers are worth checking out and following!
There are a few amazing street photographers on Instagram who use their smartphones. First, there’s Jose Luis Saez, who captures architecture-focused images in black and white. Then there’s Lloyd Fox, who’s more people-focused, but maintains the same reverence toward high-contrast black and white shots. Chas Read has a unique eye for composition and drama, while Dina Alfasi is a master of capturing character and emotion.
Three of the best smartphone landscape photographers on Instagram are Mariko Klug, Mike Mantx, and Cat Cliffe. All three capture atmospheric photos, though Mantx’s work is more subtle, while Klug and Cliffe create awestriking work with textures and heavy post-processing. Mantx’s work features a more mountainous setting, while Klug and Cliffe shoot in a more rural environment.