17 June 2020

Mobile Photography Prize Behind the Picture #3

17 June 2020 - Written by PhMuseum

With this year's deadline recently extended to 25 June, get to know the story behind another 4 images which were selected last year for Familiar Stranger, PHmuseum's first photobook on mobile photography.

From PHmuseum's Book + Exhibition Familiar Stranger © Theo Tajes

Theo Tajes is Brazil photographer working as a film director. The plastic posture of the group in his photo can recall a certain form of classicism typical of some XVI century European paintings. Yet, as Tajes explains, the place where this image was taken remains certainly far from the Old Continent: “I was in the countryside of Maranhão, northeast Brazil. On a day off, I roamed the streets and found a place where a group was practising self-expression exercises. I approached them and asked if I could take some photos and the group replayed it was ok. The final exercise they had to perform consisted simply in closing their eyes and keep moving until they could find a comfortable position. All of a sudden everyone came together to the centre of the room inhaling and exhaling together as if they were a single person. That’s when I took the photo”.

From PHmuseum's Book + Exhibition Familiar Stranger © Youssef Sherif

Youssef Sherif is an Egyptian photographer whose practise combines the use of fashion and fine art photography. Reinterpreting a scene described in an astronaut's diary, Sherif aims to represent the psychological status of isolation affecting human being: “I was showcased this through a picture of an astronaut standing alone on planet Mars, and I felt the emotional pain that was caused to him by being all alone during his solo trip”. This picture, taken in Wadi Degla Protectore, is a clear example of his work as he comments: “I decided to portray the inevitable fact that no matter how much we try to avoid people or socialising, we never seem to succeed. We're social creatures and we can't escape that fact”.

From PHmuseum's Book + Exhibition Familiar Stranger © Michele Iacobini

Michele Iacobini is an Italian freelance photographer based between Rome and Milan. He took this photo while travelling on assignment. “I was on a ferry on route to Palermo - explains. While passing by the Aeolian Islands through the north of Sicily. I was going there with an NGO to photograph Libyan migrants arriving ashore”. We can perceive a sense of tranquillity and balance in the frame or as Michele states “that instantly felt like it would be the last romantic moment for a long period and I wanted to immortalise it”.

From PHmuseum's Book + Exhibition Familiar Stranger © Joan Sorolla

Joan Sorolla holds a life as a freelance music graphic reporter and Art History teacher. He later started to get involved into photography and now counts two monographic publications of this work. Recalling how the image came about he says: “As usual, I went out to walk the dog towards an uninhabited farmhouse near my house in La Roca del Vallès (Catalonia). Before the farm, there is an irrigation pond always full of water. As I passed by, I saw a deer floating. I hadn’t taken my (D)SLR that day, so I made some pictures with the phone. Surely that deer left the forest looking for water, then fell into the pond and could not get out”. While recalling the story, Sorolla proposes also a very spontaneous reflection about the human’s impact on environment: “It was a very hot summer and the creeks were dry that year, I always ask myself why the climate is changing so much”.


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

Written by


Reading time

4 minutes

Support PhMuseum Journalism

Since 2012 PhMuseum's articles have always been free and without ads. Every year we work to keep you informed and invite you to discover the work of hundreds of photographers. If you enjoy reading us, this can be a nice way to give back and support our independent organisation, granting us more means to increase the quality and number of contents. Thank you!