Format Picks Winner Drew Hopper on Using What You Have

Put down the DLSR. The most important gear is the gear you have—and use—consistently.

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For the latest edition of our contest series Format Picks, we asked to see your best mobile photography. With over 1,500 entries it was tough choosing just one, but winner Drew Hopper’s shot really captured our attention.

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Macauleys Beach, Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia 2019

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We asked Drew to tell us more about the shot and why he reaches for his camera phone more than any other gear.

Where are you based and where do you usually work?

I’m currently based on the Coffs Coast of NSW Australia, where I spend the majority of my time working as a freelance photographer. Although, the last four years I have been living between Australia and Southeast Asia, mostly in Vietnam working on personal projects.

How did you first get into photography?

I first started photography after receiving my first DSLR from my parents for my 18th birthday. I never really imagined a career as a photographer but it sort of just evolved. I think the key was remaining present and just practicing as much as possible, which gave me more knowledge and opened up doors to meeting and working for different clientele.

Can you tell us more about the winning shot?

I was checking the surf and didn’t have my other cameras on me at the time, but noticed these two guys also checking the waves with their surfboards under their arms. To me, it felt very Australian, which is something I have been pursuing in my latest work. My Google Pixel 2 was the nearest camera at the time, so I grabbed that and shot a quick frame through the windscreen of my car before they ran down the beach to head out.

How do you use mobile photography to support your work?

I use my mobile phone a lot more than I do my other cameras as it allows me to always carry a camera with me. I use it a lot when I’m exploring a new location and taking snapshots to give me a reference point to come back and pursue shooting with my digital camera. It’s also my go-to camera when being stealthy for street photography as people don’t expect anything, it’s very discreet like that. I also process 80% of my images in Snapseed, even images from my Fuji digital camera, by transferring the JPEG files using the camera’s built-in wifi directly to my phone.

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on setting up a home darkroom for developing and printing my film negatives. I’ve been shooting film for two years now and love the process of stepping back in time. That’s a personal project, among working for various publications and shooting assignments across Australia.

You can find more of Drew’s work at and @drewhopper on Instagram.

Want more Format Picks?
Meet Format Picks Winner Kai Gradert
How One Photographer is Proving Print’s Not Dead
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Where Photographers Get Serious.


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