13 May 2020

Mobile Photography Prize's Behind the Picture #1

13 May 2020 - Written by PhMuseum

Every picture tells a story, yet what about the true story behind it? We went to talk with some of the photographers who joined the 2019 edition of our prize for mobile photography to recall that special moment.

From PHmuseum's Exhibition Familiar Stranger © Eugene Schemilin

Eugene Schemilin lives in the city of Norilsk in Northern Russia where he works as a mechanic in a famous nickel mining and smelting company. Recalling the moment when he took this image, he writes: “The northern summer is short, but it brings a unique light almost all day long. On a polar day, the sun does not set over the horizon. I walked along the outskirts of Norilsk, lost in my thoughts and suddenly I saw the building of a store, an old one from Soviet times. The new owners breathed fresh life into it. They made a new wall cladding but on its roof the dilapidated letters of the old sign were still flaunting. This combination of new, old, light, and shadow made me click on my camera phone. When I was a child, I walked around the area and bought something in this store. Time and the new owners changed the building, but not my memories”. Behind the rich red colour and the harsh shadows characterising the surface of his shoot, there is definitely a great sense of nostalgia laying behind this image.

From PHmuseum's Exhibition Familiar Stranger © Adriano Brodbeck

On the opposite side of the planet, in the Southern hemisphere, Adriano Brodbeck was on a flight from Rio de Janeiro back to his hometown São Paulo. While taking this photo, the 32-years-old Brazilian who works as Creative Art Director of Wunderman Thompson, was struck by the unplanned connection established by the presence of the several means of transportation within his frame. This is what he recalls: “I don't know exactly why, but I always choose the left seat near the window. I took this picture some feet away from the ground before our arrival. What did calls my attention was the shadow of the airplane projected on the iron’s rail at the train station, with some vehicles in the background. I liked the unexpected union of those different means of transports”.

From PHmuseum's Exhibition Familiar Stranger © Sandra Lazzarini

Italian photographer Sandra Lazzarini is an artist who embraces mainly self-portraiture in her practice. Under the Italian summer's sun she took this image while visiting a very peculiar location in the peninsula. “It was June and I was wandering in the street of Tresigallo” she recalls, mentioning the location completely rebuilt between 1927 and 1934 and now believed to be a brilliant example of a metaphysical city. “For me is a place frozen in time - says Sandra - and that image came naturally to me while looking at the weight of the sign SOGNI - which means dreams in Italian”. The pastel tones of the photograph together with the pose of the subject can possibly induce to fantasize about this oneiric scenery.

From PHmuseum's Exhibition Familiar Stranger © Fatma el Armany

Egyptian photographer Fatma el Armany was on a group walk, hiking towards Karjat, a beautiful natural location in India, when she took this picture with her phone. She recalls how she was feeling undertaken with exploring and enjoying the scenery. "Our goal was to reach the top of a mountain and watch the sunset - she says - yet while we were close to reaching the top, we took a break. I took this opportunity to have a look around and take some photos untill I saw this girl lost in her own thoughts”. The yellow tones of the image and the calm pose of the girl laying on the dry grass recreate a contemporary bucolic view.


This content is part of a series of articles that looks back at our first Mobile Photography Prize and what it meant for the photographers involved. To join the conversation and become an active part of our 5-year research project on the phenomenon, learn more and apply to the second edition at

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