Shooting Smart Phones - Photography Chronicles, Vol. 1

in Photography Lovers7 months ago (edited)

SmartPhone Title.jpg

Previous Story : Prologue - The Beginnings

It was the year 2016. Been working in Shanghai China for about two years at Huawei Mobile Phone department as a smartphone designer. I myself was still getting used to the culture in both work and life, my son was 4 years old, didn't know how to speak Chinese, and friends and family back home in the US at the time still had no idea where I was working. LOLZ... This was a time where no one really knew about Huawei outside of China.

It was the most spontaneous big ass life decision I have ever made literally without really thinking through in my life. At the same time, it was the best move I have ever made... later to be one of many contributors to put Huawei mobile smartphone on the global map we see today.


Today I am about to share what was my utmost favorite project to date while working at Huawei Mobile and also the most difficult challenged project I have ever experienced in my entire career.

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Lets quickly go through the briefing.

I called this new strategy ID (Industrial Design) Marketing. I wanted to make a team that consists of professional photographers and designers to bring something new to the table.
My elevator speech it seemed.

"Product Photography"

is the technical term in the photographer industry for type of work. But this alone was not enough. This is where I came in to game the system and bring something new to the table.
Photography + 3D CAD CGI seamlessly blended = Hyper Realism baby!

"Marketing Material Development"

was what I needed to plan, manage, and create as my final output results.

"Huawei Mate 9"

was the main flagship phone we were assigned to work on.

The advertisement and marketing materials created before Huawei Mate 9 was done purely with the CAD models and rendering software that was available in the company created by the product designers. This was very effective in producing with speed however to bring quality and style that can compete with the big boys (Apple, Samsung) it needed real professionals that understood attention to details and real product photography.

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You cannot bring the rich details of what a professional SLR Camera can capture with a budget rendering software.... NO... just NO. A plan needed to by strategically organized.... A proposal has been initiated by creating a detailed plan presented to the board.

Below image was the time when I first entered Huawei at 2014... at the time the Ascend P7 was out and was pretty successful in China. I was just all taking it in because I have never seen these in America. My thinking was at the time... these images sure can use some love. :)


2014 Huawei Ascend P7 (Photo Image Source) Advertising Material

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STRATEGIC PLANNING PRESENTATION : Creating a strategy for everything from budget, manpower, plan B, plan C, plan D... YOU MUST be able to visualize the work flow... and play it in your head. When there is a dead line in corporation... there is no such thing as "can we have one more day to send you the results?" You will be absolutely screwed by all departments.


After plan is proposed, and approved... this is where I got so scared.... Its was time to Talk the talk and Walk the Walk. Create and Deliver the results I promised to the table... results that outshines what was done in the past so distinctively. They wanted to see what evolution looked like using my strategy... Eyes were watching and this was the beginning of "Not easy to go to sleep at night" Its all fun and games until the responsibility is placed on your shoulders with a timeline.


This is where you need to put your corporate biz mask on and go out to professional studios you can find and meet every single one FAST. I needed to find a Photography Studio that has people who can work with me as one team and at the same time know how to have a good time together with good vibes.

Finding the one that clicks mentally... to me that is important when working as a creative team. Like minded, supportive, passionate, willing to burn some midnight fuel during crunch time... its like trying to find new friends... with a mission. :) After you find and assemble the team then this is where brainstorming new ideas create atomic blasting levels of synergy happens.


Brainstorming ideas on what can we do as a team to make it different and stand out from the rest was so much fun! Yet this is where I truly see the importance of how collective reasoning of the minds can bring in ideas where it becomes so much more better than originally perceived. BUT!!~~ There are also times where idea are going NOWHERE... its funny in its own way during those times but for this project "Aint got no time for dat!"

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Micromanaging is the worst you can do with a fresh team that needs full commitment. Assign everyone what they know best and let them explore in their own creative ways and embracing it rather than compare with what you expected can make you go in circles with no happy faces. This for me took a lot of practice through time...


this is where experience of design managers who worked with many people through time can be noticed. Just trial and error... learn from what didn't work and go with what did. However, hopefully they wont practice this during a flagship project... this is really more about get everyone in the know...crystal clear, got it? ok lets meet up back with some results.... BOOM.


ACT fast dynamic on full gear with NO MICROMANAGING!!! I experienced that shit with my previous boss and man.... maybe for a different post. Yea~ Moving on.


Understanding the Attention to Detail to every results that need proofing is where I put my skill on the show.


Catching what needs to be fixed, improved, praised for...ect. This is a skill honed and trained through just experience in understanding the overall visual strategy solely by you. There is no team here... this is a test of your own wit, skill, creativity, IQ, EQ... its all focused to make sure its moving in the right creative direction. Its like... I have to see what the photographer didn't catch or realize...


However, Still there are ways to make it look better. So I usually point out what we can modify and review it again to see if my eyes and judgment call was right or a complete waste of time.


Below is an example of the details I saw and commented for refinement or redo... I have no idea how the hell I did that at the time... I think this is where fear can bring some crazy abilities in you.
For sure its not good if your stress level is like that every day.... I think you will die! But sometimes it can push you to become a Dragon Ball Super Saiyan for a short period of time.


After each step is checked... a milestone is set. Get to go home and call it a day... get some needed rest. Sometimes there is none of that... All nighters was very common during flag ship projects.


Comparison of what our marketing materials looked like in the past vs. the much needed change.




The images being recreated for official advertisements. This was my favorite part of bringing images to life... Fonts, Graphics, Backgrounds... I really enjoy this part of marketing material creation.


OK That's it for todays blog~
Today I wanted to really emphasize on :

  1. The utmost importance of visually seeing the PLAN and STRATEGY... This is for yourself. not for others... STRATEGIC CLARITY... do you see the whole picture? Can you play it in your mind? If you can't you will be in shit ton of trouble down the line and not even a bucket of coffee or brick of cocaine can help you stay up all night to fix it. This is a place you dont want to be in trust me. I've been there and.... never again.... just never again.

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  1. Trust your TEAM once you have assembled it. Give them ownership of the project on hand and they will take care of it like a boss. Of course there are times where results dont come the way you want... and in those times... you have to show them how its done through example. Show it by doing it yourself so they can understand you and redo it to your way. Too much talking is just annoying. Sometimes that works both in them giving you some respect and also it gives a clear visual of how you want it to be modified or captured.


  1. When proofing and checking... try to do it once and do it right.... going back and forth will drive everyone crazy and it losses the team spirit fast... You want the dynamic synergy to keep on rolling then pay extreme attention to your conscious mind and laser focus scan the results!! Do it ONCE! Do it RIGHT the FIRST TIME! This is the most important step cause you are basically setting up a milestone of "TEAM!~ GOOD WORK!~ Now lets move on to the next!!"


This phase is actually all on you... Check, recheck, approve, and move on... a lot of people skim through this.... and if there is a flaw not discovered at this phase... the rest of everything will result in the same way and the work of fixing it piles up like crazy as it moves on to the next.


Alright~ Stay Tuned for more what goes on behind the scenes of product photography action!
Thanks for visiting my blog and checking out my articles. I really appreciate you guys discovering my work and I am so lucky to share some of my experience through my post.
If you have any questions on my career, seeking some career advice as a designer, or experiences you have that is similar or completely different than mine, then comment and lets create a conversation~ :) Cheers!~

ALL IMAGES - Are original work of my projects.


It's always cool seeing the behind the scenes of different photography projects. Not many people realize the work that goes into creating great images. When I was working in film and shooting movies, there is so much work behind the scenes that people would never think of. Good lighting is key to a great image.

Yea man~ you know what its like as well? I didnt know your into photography~ I just checked your flicks and color, composition, layout proportion is solid!! :)

I am also editing some videos I was able to capture briefly which I will post soon. And with film behind the scenes action is so fast paced, I want to show some of that vibe too. Yes, there is so much going on behind the scenes. :)

I realize these experiences would be great for people who want to work in that field see whats really going on~ like you said, there is not much of it. Thanks for checking it out~ :)

Ya, I started on Hive years ago just so I can share my photography. It’s been a lot of fun so far. I created Photography Lovers Community a few years ago while I was at Steemfest in Poland.

I had no idea~ your roots here seems to be very deep and a pioneer to a well established photo lovers community.

When I first joined Hive I remember people first told me "If you like photography Hive is perfect for you to share photos and get appreciated by people who view it with Hive~ check out photography lovers."

I had no idea what they meant at the time but it lead me to here now. :) Respect!!!!! bro!!

Man you are so good at photography. You put in a lot of effort to your posts and that makes them great! Thanks for sharing with us.

Couldn't have done it without the guidance and support from homies like you bro. I try to learn and mimic what you guys do~ :)
Thanks for the comment~

I am always willing to share knowledge on what I know through Hive, and I think it will let others know what I like and stuff.

If they like what they see~ join da party! ;)
And your always invited~ VVIP! Hehehe

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I am confused between the quality and accuracy of Huawei and Apple camera photography. I don't know which type to choose

This is a really good question~ :)
I am working on a new post that explains this in detail. Also I have been involved in the very first steps when Huawei and Leica joined hands~ I have pictures to show and some tech specs to explain the differences. However to simply put in a sentence... The differences are mainly in the software/firmware of the camera sensors. If you want a true to color as much as possible then apple would be the way to go. However, if you want mobile phone captures that mimic DSLR lens through software (amazing macro, really deep black/white monochromatic photography, studio setting like portraits) then I would go with Huawei Leica. There are people who want true to color minimal software processed imaging which apple will do well, and people who like to have all sorts of filters and features built in which Huawei Leica cameras do best. I hope that explains it well. If you have any questions don't hesitate~ let me know. Thanks

Great explanation thanks for your help

Hello man

Sorry for visiting lately. I was super sick😅😅

Huawei is now become India's largest selling smart phone as far I know. I also used a few of them it's really cool. The design and the software and the important thing it comes within budget. All cell phone company suffer their sale because of Huawei and rank and file got relief and Huawei helps to die down the price of cell phone in India.

It is great to know that you were one of the designer of it ... Haha nice work man.💖💖

When I started in Feb 2014 the mobile phone product line up was a bit messy however they knew things needed change so lots of foreigners were hired including myself to change almost everything. This was a time where we were successfully able to collaborate with Google to create the Huawei Google Nexus. That was such a fun project and I will show the processes step by step. Slowly but surely. :)

Projects are of course good and comes in affordable price. Sure man let all know the work.I will be awaiting.

pretty amazing setup for product photography , master of the light in everyway :)

Yea the photographer bro really understood light in detail... He said he has done a lot of jewelry photography and also told me had an extremely strict mentor. Blood, sweat, n tears in the arts industry~ and yup the master of the light with barely any touchup work needed.