I’ve been practicing general street photography for a couple months, but the last few times I’ve been downtown there were surprisingly few people out. Why not the mall, I thought, to mix things up.

I decided to stow my camera in the bag on my way in, figuring carrying around a full frame camera would draw too much attention. Even with a small 50mm lens. So it was time to see what I could get with the iPhone.

Mall escalator descent

My first shot was warming up, coming down the escalator. One thing I noticed right away is that the iPhone likes to use incredibly wide apertures because of its tiny sensor, which creates some issues keeping much of the frame in focus.

When I was back on the second floor later into the visit, I was intrigued by a conversation with a watch repair guy and a customer, and decided to snap a photo. The watch guy actually saw me just after the shot, and I smiled and waved. He seemed cool, if a bit surprised.

Candid shot of a watch repair guy talking to a customer

The clarity here was better than this web version of the image, but I had to optimize somewhat for web load times. Still, I was a little disappointed in the facial clarity on the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s telephoto lens, but generally I notice the detail is lacking on that lens.

Still, I thought it came out okay all things considered.

Generally I tried to avoid taking potentially recognizable photos of anyone in the mall, since it’s not public property per se. Instead, my last real shot of the session was to take advantage of all the glass everywhere for reflections.

Window reflection at the mall

There’s certainly more I could’ve done in terms of frames with leading lines or silhouetted people against signs and ads. Maybe next time.

A few things to bear in mind for my fellow photographers, particularly after I looked into this a bit further:

  • Indoor malls are private property. You can try to get photos if there aren’t explicit signs indicating it’s prohibited, but you may be stopped by security and asked to leave.
  • Identifiable photos of people for commercial use are likely off limits without a photo release since the photos don’t fall under the liberties of public spaces. The one I got of the watch repair guy was probably iffy.
  • Always look into your local laws. In a lot of countries the worst that may happen is you’ll be asked to stop, but depending on where you live there may be greater legal consequences for photographing on what is technically private property.