Nat Geo photog shoots China project with only a prerelease iPhone 6s Plus

“In 1989, Sanjiang was a dusty hill town in the southwest Chinese province of Guangxi,” Mark Leong reports for National Geographic. “It was known for its covered wooden bridges but didn’t have many visitors. When my 23-year-old self stretched his legs after a bumpy five-hour bus ride, it felt like high noon at a Wild West outpost—with horse carts, Dong minority women wearing embroidered outfits, and rough-looking characters slung with knives and muskets.”

“These old photos are a record of a time now gone, not just for a developing China but also for an updated (OK, older) version of myself,” Leong reports. “To reflect on these changes, earlier this month I retraced that first road trip that took me to Sanjiang, setting the tone for my career to follow. Extending the idea of change to my photographic process, I shot everything with only a prerelease iPhone 6s Plus and a tripod for night shooting.”

“When I prepare for an assignment these days, my knees and spine quietly complain about the toll of heavy gear and awkward shooting positions,” Leong reports. “So—having gradually expanded from shoulder bag to backpack to roller suitcase to assistants schlepping along all the photo stuff I have mostly just in case—carrying only an iPhone has been incredibly liberating.”

Read more and check out all of the photos in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Beautifully shows how much has changed over the past quarter century!


  1. I’ve been to Guangxi Province five times, tho not to Sanjiang. It has a beautiful landscape and friendly people. Historical side note: It was Guangxi Province where the legendary Flying Tigers – American volunteers who fought against the Japanese on behalf of the Chinese – were based during the early years of WWII.

  2. While it remains absolutely true that an iPhone won’t replace a DSLR in all circumstances, it’s quite evident that it has replaced on in this example and has done a pretty good job too.

    The author touches upon one very interesting advantage, which is that people the world over are so used to phones being used as cameras that they pay little regard to them. I’ve been in situations where using a conventional camera would draw unwanted attention, while using an iPhone doesn’t.

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