Category Archives: iPhone photography

How to make your photography fun

How can you say you love photography if it is 99% frustration? Do you even enjoy it?

These were some of the questions put to me after my last blog post. Not questions which got me thinking or made me feel anxious about how to answer.

No, I fully know why I continue to shoot and why I truly love everything to do with photography. But, how can you make photography fun? Well…

Toyko, 2017

SEE IT AS FUN

I do it because there are few things in life which satisfy my soul like photography. When I get in the zone, when I am on the street and lost in the moment, it electrifies me. I come alive and whatever worries or problems I may be carrying lighten in load.

It is exhilarating. It is life-affirming. It is fun. And fun is something I believe is so neglected in photography. I believe fun is something which is so neglected in adult life. Ask an adult what they do for fun and you will embarrass them. The word fun seems to become loaded when we pass from childhood. Fun seems like something illicit; something we ought to be ashamed of. Ask a child what they do for fun and watch how excited they get when they tell you. If you have a hobby, you should have that childlike excitement and passion for it. If not, abandon it.

Cork, 2015

YOU ARE MAKING MEMORIES

In August of last year, I gave a talk at at Zafigo X travel conference about photography and how it is all about moments, all about creating memories. Photographs are visual entries in your diary which become powerful in their capacity to catapult you back in time.

When I open up iPhoto (I use it to categorise events) and look through old images, it can launch me back to when and where I was and land me softly in the emotion of that moment. It is magical. It becomes something beautiful when I do it with my two kids. The dynamic of they discovering how they were when they were little babies or toddlers and my reminiscing of days that are now long gone is a gift that just gives and gives.

My little daughter and her grandfather

Sumi-Anna aged two reading Voltaire

YOU CREATE, YOU EXPRESS YOURSELF

I need to create. Why? Because it puts me on a path of discovery and understanding. Photography is about picking up a camera, pointing it at something or someone because your instinct tells you you need to capture that instant; to claim it and keep it for later examination. This in turn may lead to later learning and with some luck lead to subsequent experimentation. When I look back now at what I was shooting in and around 2012/2103, I see I was much more experimental. I shot much more blur; particularly on the iPhone. Why? Because of the limitations of the device. It performed poorly in low light, had no image stabilisation and working my way through this I discovered that these limitations allowed me to create beautiful blur imagery. Funny how these days I sometimes feel I have lost that freedom to create. 

Shot on iPhone 4. 2012

Photographic Punctuation

CONFORM TO ROUTINE

Conform to routine and routine will conform. I am a very ill-disciplined person. My life’s maxim is to not do today what you can do tomorrow, because tomorrow you might not need to do it. I leave things go forever and ever, discovering new excuses to put things off with graceful ease. I have wasted so much time. Photography changed things for me. Flickr found me wanting to share my photography on a regular basis. This meant I had to photograph on a regular basis. I began on Flickr in 2007. By 2009 I was posting photographs there on an almost daily basis. By 2012, I was posting to two accounts almost every day.

I committed to photography. I conformed to the routine and the routine conformed. This calms and soothes my soul. It gives me discipline. There is not a day goes by that I do not spend time taking/making photographs, looking at those of others, reading about photography, or hatching plans for my photography. It has been the most beautiful learning experience and has been so rewarding for me. I can say I have become a better person because of photography, because of the commitment to it. 

Tokyo, 2015

IT IS THE FRIENDSHIPS YOU MAKE

Want to become a better photographer? Here’s how. Spend time with other photographers. You have to. You need to spend time with like-minded people who get you. People who won’t find it strange or rude that you have the concentration powers of a puppy dog when you are walking down a street with them. Spend time with people who inspire you, people who push you to experiment, push you to achieve. People you can learn from. When I look back at the past few years, I see I have been so lucky in this respect. I have met some wonderfully creative people; wonderfully kind people. People whose work can stop me in my tracks and make me want to improve; to get to their level. And those few you might meet along the way who are insecure, jealous and negative. Cut them loose. There is truth in the saying to surround yourself with positive people. 

Copenhagen, 2014

IT IS THE STRANGERS YOU GET TO KNOW

But they are all just photographs of strangers. People you do not know. What is it about random people that interests you? This is what a friend asked me once about my photography. Ya, I don’t know them, but there is something in every one of them that I recognise. Something that resonates with me. I may not be able to immediately (or ever) say what exactly it is, but I photograph them because something attracts my attention to them. It can be a look, a gesture, a posture. It can be because they looked at me. It can be because I want to look at them. They are characters in my story. I can construct or deconstruct their reality to suit my perception; to build my interpretation. 

Waiting for hair to grow. Hanoi, 2012

And then there are those strangers who I get to know a little. Those who I stop and ask if I can take their photograph. Those who I continue to ask questions as I shoot them. Those who I tell little things about myself as I try to get them to reveal who they are. I love these connections. This opportunity to get to know people a little. It can be amazing what they tell you, and it can be beautiful what their portraits can reveal. 

We all want to be seen; we all want to be heard. Photography can allow this.  

Bangkok, 2017

IT GIVES VALIDATION TO WHAT YOU DO

I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a buzz from winning competitions or being selected for big global ad campaigns. The first time I won a competition (Mira Mobile Prize) I cried. It was a dream of mine to win a competition and truthfully I never believed I would. When it came, I was overwhelmed and felt so relieved. It was a form of validation. Any artistic pursuit is framed in doubt. We can never be sure if it is right; if it is worth anything. Competitions provide some validation. But you know, it is bullshit too. Photography should not be a competitive pursuit.

Winning photo: IPPA 2017

IT IS ALL ABOUT LEARNING

What is life about if it is not about learning? It never stops. There is nothing which enriches life more than learning. Granted I could spend my time learning more about the technical aspect of photography or learning about photography gear, but that does not excite me. What does excite me is that with every photograph I take, I learn. Learn about myself, learn about life. See mistakes and ya, get frustrated. But that frustration is positive. It is what drives me to learn and improve. 

London, 2015

STORIES; SO MANY STORIES

So many. Stories that are immediately evident and others that slowly reveal themselves. 

Delhi, 2016 (Nikon D7000)

IT DRIVES YOU ON

I have often talked about how viewing the photographs of my friends has inspired me and pushed me forward in wanting to improve in my own photography. It is so true. Seeing friends posts photos on a regular basis keeps me wanting to do the same. Seeing them shoot something new excites me to get back out and get shooting. I try to spend some time each week looking through photo books of established, renowned photographers. This is a different type of inspiration because these are not photographers I get to engage with. Their work is polished and presented as the finished article. Yet, there is so much to learn as you explore the connections in the photographs they showcase in a coherent and cohesive presentation in book form. 

Mumbai, 2016

YOU DISCOVER HOW TO SEE

What is photography about for me? It is trying to see what can be seen and how to see it.

As Dorothea Lange said: The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera. On every photo walk I have been on, one thing always strikes me. While we all walk the same route and can see the same things, how we observe and interpret them can be so different. It is what makes photography exciting, it is what gives it endless possibilities. When you are working with fractions of seconds when the shutter opens and closes, you are also working with slight shifts in centimetres, angles and aspects which can dramatically alter images.

Photography doesn’t allow me to see, it pushes me to see; to construct, deconstruct and create. It elevates beyond seeing. It allows me to begin to understand. To be part of my surroundings and to be an external observer of it too. 

Tokyo, 2017

So is it really 99% frustration?

Of course it is not. It can feel like that at times, for sure. But it definitely isn’t. It is what I do for fun. And whenever I experience that ongoing frustration, I keep coming back to why I photograph. And the answer is always the same. I do it for fun. I do it for me. 

Bali, 2017

Also posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Why do you need a second Instagram account

That’s a question I am asked a lot: Why do I need a second Instagram account?

Truth be told I don’t need one and I probably would be better off just focussing on building my main account. Addition is dilution, as they say. That is true. So, why do it then? Well, I shoot a lot of photos. So much gets my visual interest and over time I build up a lot of photographs which lead a lonely existence in the depths of my camera roll. Back in May of 2016 I decided to create another Instagram account and just post photos there that did not feature people. My thinking was that my main account is primarily for street photography shots with the human element. The second account would let me showcase images that just might not ever see the light of day otherwise. I hate rules, but I do apply just one rule to this account: no people.

So, arriving to January, 1st, 2018, I have decided to look back and choose 12 favourites from that stream. An algorithm chose my best nine, but honestly what the f*** does an algorithm know about photography? A bloody lot judging by the success of platforms like Instagram!

Anyway, here goes in selecting 12 photos from my second Instagram account. I am not going to do this like I did when selecting my fave 12 from the main Instagram account – when I chose one photo from each month. This time, I am going to make it easy for myself and just choose 12. (a little side note – I am trying to get this done in the next hour or so – otherwise it will not get done – actually took me over 90 mins)

I hit the streets of Hong Kong wanting to capture street life and character. I had my camera ready for action. My head was on a swivel seeking out that scene. Then I stopped. Perched myself against a yellow facade and shot the passing traffic.

Hong Kong

Korea

When we are in Korea, one of the things we enjoy most is walking to the river near my wife’s parents’ house. The kids love to play in the water. It is a short walk; takes about 5 minutes or so. Over the years I have shot so many photographs and videos of them playing in the water and also so many shots of things I see en route. This one here is an example of the things you can see on the way. I look at it, the kids look at it, they look at me, they look at one another, and then they run on. The river is waiting.

People love it when I tell them that these are coffee pods. I found these in Brown Thomas in Cork when I was in there with my wife one day. I had to ask the store assistant to step out of the way to let me get the shot. When I showed her the shot she said: “Wow, I see that every day, but I have never seen it like this. That’s fabulous.” That made my day.Cork

Tokyo

Tokyo sees a lot of rain. Hit that up with neon and you get some beautiful reflections. This shot was shot using portrait mode to defocus and accentuate the colours. I edited in RNI Films (if you haven’t got that app, you are missing out. Go get it!)

Bangkok is hectic. An assault on the senses. I love the place. So much going on and the people are just the most photo-friendly you can meet. It can be hard to get a shot that gives the sense of activity without having people visible in it. I think this goes towards it.

Bangkok

Korea

I think the reason I like to shoot abstract images when I am out photographing is because there is control in this. It is not like street photography where, as the saying goes, if you see it, it is too late. There is a comfort in finding scenes which are to a degree permanent, ones you can take time with. Ones you can even manipulate. This shot is from Daegu, South Korea. I was wandering around the city frustrated that killer moments were not happening for me. They rarely do. One way to deal with this to seek out photographic constructions. This scene, while appearing calm, screamed at me.

I was asked once in an interview if I ever had a lightbulb moment and it annoyed me. Annoyed me because to begin with I could not recall any and then annoyed even more when I realised how unfortunate that is. A light bulb moment is by nature an abrupt clout of clarity which shakes you from your trodden and dour path. Why didn’t I ever have one? I want one now, I thought. But you can’t will these no matter how you try. But you know now that I am in the process of reviewing my images and wondering what I saw when I took a shot, I begin to think about a moment when an ex-girlfriend of mine spoke to me about seeing colour. I was about 20 years old and I was bored listening to her. She knew this. But she also knew I was not seeing colour. No, she said, you don’t, you don’t see colour, you see colours, but you don’t see colour. This confused me, but by now I was listening to her; no longer bored. Colours, colour, what’s the difference? She continued to tell me, but what she was saying continued to confuse me until I began to try to see it for myself. And then I did, I began to see colour like I had not before.  No matter how I try to explain this I can’t. I am not going to even try. Perhaps the easiest way to achieve this is just by trying to see colour. It is the same with shapes and lines and layers and distortions. They are all there. You just need to train your eye to see them. This photo below is an example of this.

Cork

This photo I love because it is simple and was such an easy shot to get. I like it because when I look at it, I leave it and I am back in Bali. The sky is clear of clouds and the sea is pristine.

Bali

Copenhagen

One of the hardest things I find in photography is to immerse yourself in the scene and to become part of what you are seeing. To allow the viewer feel what you might have been feeling. So often I fail in this. This image here is of a staircase as seen from above. Using a zoom burst I wanted to give the sense of vertigo I was feeling looking over it. I have a dreadful fear of heights.

Vietnam

I obsessed with the future. I struggle so much with optimism. It is like I am on a trampoline. Each time I am vaulted skyward I panic. Enveloping pessimism consumes me. I fear there is nothing under me to cushion my fall. Yet, each time I hit that trampoline optimism is injected and I believe again. What does this have to do with photography? Leading lines, vanishing points, all leading to the future. I stop to examine and caution floods in. But it excites me too. Commit to the future…

Cork

Cork

Trees. They need to cheer the fuck up, you know. Every photographer goes through a phase of shooting trees. They are easy. Stuck there in the ground, unable to make you question the reason why you are photographing them. Snap, snap, snap, they can do nothing. No response. Nothing. Move on to the next tree.

I teach my students how to write. One of the pieces of advice I give them is: Let your ideas control your writing; not your writing controlling your ideas. What does this mean? Well, this blog piece is an example of my writing controlling my ideas. Before I began this piece I had no idea what images I would choose, not to mind what order I might present them in. I even began by telling you that this second account is for photos with no people in them, and now here I am getting to the end of the piece and putting in a photograph with myself in it. I can offer excuses, but they would be pathetic ones like telling you this is my blog and I make the rules. Then, to compound things, I realise this shot is the one I should have used when I was talking about lightbulb moments. Too late. I just could not be arsed going back and reorganising. It’s done!

Anyway, I am choosing this as my last favourite of 2017 from my second Instagram account. Why? Because all my photographs are all about me. I may not be in them, but if you look you will find me. In all of them. Every single one. Even this one.

Not the lightbulb moment shot

Kiss the future….
Also posted in Best of year, iPhone, My own favourite photographs, photograph posts, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Favourite 2017 Shot on iPhone Photographs

OK – I have tried to start this so many times in the recent weeks and each time I tell myself I will get it done tomorrow, knowing full well that I will wait until the last moment and then rush it through. But hey – once I get it done, ya?

Choosing my 12 favourite photos was so easy before. All I needed to do was head over to Flickr and see what photos I posted in each month of the year and from that choose a favourite shot. Not so anymore. This year I posted virtually nothing to Flickr until September, so for the first time ever this end-of-year-review is being done via Instagram. Here are my Instagram stats for the year: I posted 272 photos to my main account and 186 photos to my second account (the one I keep for shots without people in them). That is a lot of images, but then I travelled and shot a lot in 2017.

I could do the easy thing and allow an algorithm decide what my best 9 photos were, but you know, they weren’t. You can see them if you wish here and here. I prefer to spend some time with the images, recall where I was, what I was doing and how it felt. That is why we create images, no? To make memories. So here are my 12 favourite shot on iPhone photographs posted to my main Instagram account in 2017.

So, January took me to Iceland for the first time. Stumbled across this artist’s house on the seafront. The sun was setting and it was freezing.

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

February and I was on my way to Cyprus to open the exhibition for the Mobile Photography Awards in Limassol. I guess it was here that I began to change my approach to street photography. Not sure why or how, but I began to engage more with people on the street as I shot their portraits. Much like candid photography, people’s first reaction when you ask can you take their photo is one of curiosity. What is it that I can see about them that makes me want to photograph them? Self-consciousness smothers that initial curiosity and the task then is to engage with them to get them to relax. I tend to tell people about myself, revealing myself a little, as I shoot. I ask them questions. I am polite and respectful. I shoot a lot in these moments.

This guy here had no English. I smiled a lot. He stared at me. He smiled when I showed him the photo.

February: Limassol (shot on iPhone)

March was a month at home and not a lot of shooting, bar the Holi Festival in my university, so I was posting shots from previous trips. This one of a bus driver in Seoul I love. I remember knowing that I would stop to shoot it when I was waiting for the green man to appear. I just love shooting into glass and the layered distortion the reflections create.

March: Seoul

April was a full on month for me. I was in Korea and Japan with work and then home for a few days before heading back out to Thailand for the most amazing experience of Monogram Asia’s first 8 x 8 Street Photography Conference. Another highlight of April was the being out on the streets of Cork for the 24-Hour Project with great people. Choosing an image I shot in the month of April is damn hard, but it is not so hard to choose one I posted in that month. Photography is all about memories and connections. My favourite for April is this one shot on the 24-hour Project in late night Cork. May not be my best photo in April, but it is the one which makes me think of the absolute craic I had with Tim, Dee, Judie and Jonathon. 

April: Cork. 24-hour project

And on to May and really there can only be one shot for May. I have written quite a bit about how I began to shoot more asked-for-portraits and how much I began to enjoy it. This one was shot in Bangkok on a very hot morning on a photo walk with Sheldon Serkin and Renzo Grande. Here’s the thing. Once I got the shot I knew it was a good one, but I did not know whether it was better in the original colour or to convert it to black and white. Shel and Renzo thought it was a no-brainer – black and white all the way. I still have a thing for it in colour. What do you think?

May: Bangkok

June: In April in Seoul I stayed in Myeondong. It is probably the busiest shopping district in Seoul and with that comes much activity; perfect for street shooting. My maxim about photography is: Trying to see what can be seen and how to see it. This shot is an example of this. The bright neon lights, the taxis, the taxi drivers. Bringing them all into one frame was not easy. Shooting it on an iPhone at night even more difficult, but I love the result.

June: Seoul

July brought me to back on my travels, back to Hong Kong and then on to Korea again. I shot a lot in this time, but did not post in July. I did share this photo on Instagram though – a photo from Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. A photo which is part of my Rehearsing for a date series of images of people alone in locations where you might commonly find dating couples.

July: Tokyo

August and I am on the beach in Busan stopping people asking if I can take their photo (and they not getting upset that I did not ask if I could make their portrait). Honestly, this is something I felt I would never have been comfortable doing, but now I cannot imagine not doing it. There is something so wonderful about it. I made some really great connections this year shooting portraits. This guy was great fun. He took delight in telling me he knew Conor Mcgregor when I told him I was Irish. Honestly? Conor McGregor?

August: Busan

In Bali, I had Bali’s best motorcyclist as my guide, but I sadly proved to be Bali’s worst motorcycle passenger in this time. I loved Bali. Big thanks to my buddy Gathoe for showing me around Bali on his bike and for bringing me to the kite festival on that first day I was there. I skipped off the beaten bath a little to find these kids playing football.

September: Bali

I tend not to post photos of my kids. This is just a personal thing for me. Probably am too protective of their privacy. But this is one of my little boy that I love. No great timing here to get the decisive moment; no just finger kept on the shutter to shoot in burst mode and then to later select that decisive moment. My little HCB shot.

October: James

November is a bit hard for me. I am torn between this, this and this, but have decided to choose this one in the end. The edited image is a little distant from the original, but I knew that in taking it I would be able to go on many creative routes with the photo.

November: Seoul

And this brings us to the end of a year of shot on iPhone photographs. Life is difficult when there is choice and truly I could have gone in so many different directions with these selections. In the end I opted for all colour, could just have easily gone all black and white as I love many of the photos I shot in black and white this year, particularly when shooting with Provoke.

So, here is it – the final image to make up my 12 favourite shot on iPhone photographs from 2017. A photograph shot in Dublin, and one which is part of my This gap between us will be filled with love or loss series.

December: Dublin

Thanks to all for your kind support throughout 2017.

Here’s to 2018 and the unexpected, the unimagined it will bring.

 

Also posted in A Flickr Year, Best of year, iPhone, James, Summer 2017, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

February favourites

February and photography and finding favourites. Ya, why not?

Cyprus. I had never been before. My good buddy Dan Berman asked me to go to represent him and the Mobile Photography Awards in the opening of the exhibition in Limassol.

This was nice. Some sunshine, some good food and the chance to hit the streets of Limassol and make some frames.

I guess it was here that I began to change my approach to street photography. Not sure why or how, but I began to engage more with people on the street as I shot their portraits. Much like candid photography, people’s first reaction when you ask can you take their photo is one of curiosity. What is it that I can see about them that makes me want to photograph them? Self-consciousness smothers that initial curiosity and the task then is to engage with them to get them to relax. I tend to tell people about myself, revealing myself a little, as I shoot. I ask them questions. I am polite and respectful. I shoot a lot in these moments.

This guy here had no English. I smiled a lot. He stared at me. He smiled when I showed him the photo.

Limassol (shot on iPhone)

Truth is that in the month of February this year I did not shoot anything that was not on the iPhone. My real cameras lived an unloved life in a dark drawer. So, I need to go and choose a shot which I posted to Flickr in February, but one which was taken in Delhi the previous July. Is that allowed? Of course it is. This is my blog. I can do whatever I want. (insert smiley face)

This shot is in some way similar to the one above from Cyprus. Neither of the two characters in the frame could speak English and neither seemed too bothered that I wanted to photograph them. I like that the guy on the left posed for me and the guy on the right didn’t. The funny thing is that when I showed them the shot, the guy on the right reacted more excitedly than the other.

Delhi (Fuji X100T)

Delhi (Fuji X100T)

March coming up. Check out January here.

Also posted in A Flickr Year, iPhone, Street Photography, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

My favourite photographs of 2017 – January

It’s that time of year when you hear it’s that time of year.

Well, it is!

It’s that time of year when I look back and rediscover the photographic journey I have been on over the past 12 months. I’ve been doing these since 2012 – one of iPhone and one for non-iPhone. Before it was quite simple. All I had to do was look back over my Flickr stream and make the selection. But I have not been as active on that platform as I had been in years gone by. Now, it is mainly Instagram. In the past few months I have tried to get back into the groove with Flickr, but truth be told it is a little stale on there. Am hoping it will bounce back to life.

Anyway, I am digressing. Back to it being that time of year and that time when I choose my favourite photographs.

Where to begin? January brought me to Iceland on a university exchange. I remember the excitement  and wonder I experienced as the bus made its way from the airport to downtown Reykjavik. I had never seen landscape like it. Staring out the window, lost in thought, I felt I had landed on the surface of the moon, only for the chatter of my fellow tourists to break me from this sense. Iceland did not disappoint. It is truly spectacular. I really did not have much time to explore, but on my very first walk  along the seafront I stumbled upon this residence. Apparently this is the house of a local artist.

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

While the natural beauty of Iceland will take your breath away and you will have your camera constantly raised to eye level, at times it is good to look down too. This photo brings me back to the little road trip I took with Toka on a very cold Friday afternoon. I was cautious not to fall. While Toka is not in this photo, I can recall her laughing as she looked at me getting this shot.

That’s what photos are about – little memory triggers. Thanks, Toka, for making happy memories with me.

Iceland

February photographs up next.

 

Also posted in Best of year, iPhone, photograph posts, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

HOW TO SUCCEED IN SMARTPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITIONS

With the upcoming Mobile Photography Awards competition taking place I was  asked by Tommy Wallace to do an interview with him about smartphone photography competitions. Below is a copy of this interview.

Brendan, I want to thank you for this opportunity. Will you briefly describe your involvement in mobile photography contests?

I’ve been a judge on a number of them now over the past few years. It is great to be on the other side of things after being an entrant before. I guess having been fortunate enough to have won in the major mobile photography competitions (MPAs, iPhone Photography Awards and Mira Mobile Prize), the organisers invited me to judge in these competitions. It’s been a great experience, and also one that comes with responsibility to ensure the best images get the recognition they deserve.

Would there be any advantage to try to guess what a certain juror is looking for and submit photos according to his/her tastes?

From my own experience I know how hard it is to put together a series of images to enter a competition. The selecting is easy. The hard part is deselecting. The thing about the MPAs is that Dan Berman (founder) assigns categories randomly to judges. So, it is very unlikely that I would get the Street Photography category. Also, speaking personally, but I am sure it is the same for most judges, I would be hesitant to select an image which people might feel was very similar to my own style of photography unless it was a stellar shot that could not be ignored.

I probably will repeat myself in this interview, but I really believe you’ve got to go with your instinct on these things and not be guided by what you think judges might like. I know I have entered competitions thinking a particular judge likes a particular style, and entering accordingly. It never works out.

How important is the storytelling aspect of submitted photos in contests?

Photos are springboards for stories. Strong images will connect in a way that the viewer can enter the image and allow his or her imagination to build on what is presented.

How does composition figure into selecting a photo for submission?

Hugely. A technically perfect photograph cannot compensate for a poor composition, but conversely a dynamic and engaging composition can overcome technical flaws. For me, photography is always about composition, story and the moment.

How daring should a photographer be when it comes to originality? Should all caution be thrown to the wind or is it good to exercise discipline according to the “rules” of photography?

I am not really one for rules. Rules can stymie creativity. Again it comes back to trusting yourself. If you are an experimental photographer and entering the MPAs, there are categories there just for you like Digital Art/Photo Illustration, Visual Effects and The Darkness. I think it is a good idea to check the winning shots in the different categories from previous years to get an idea of the types of images that can fit.

What do you find are the most common mistakes people make when entering smartphone photography competitions?

Well, the biggest mistake, one which surprisingly does happen, is to enter an image that is not shot and edited on a smartphone.

Others would be when you have three killer shots of the same person or the same location, but all in essence just variations of the same, don’t enter the three. You are diluting your chances, all three will not be selected.

Take some time to check previous winning shots in the different categories to see if your shot is a match in type. Often entrants will post photos that just do not fit the category. In saying that I must commend Dan for ensuring high-quality images entered in the wrong category do not get looked over.

Do you believe it is helpful to get second opinions about what to enter?

Definitely, but ultimately you’ve got to trust yourself.

So let’s say I go to someone for confirmation of my photo selection. Who would you recommend I seek out?

I have a couple of people who I would trust. My wife is probably the best judge. A simple nod or shake of the head does it for me with her. I would say to reach out to a photographer friend who will be honest with you, but ultimately go with your guts and enter what you feel are your best shots.

Brendan, you’ve been extremely helpful. To finish up, if there is one most important tip you could give someone entering a smartphone photography contest, what would it be?

Prepare for disappointment. You probably are not going to win. I know that sounds harsh, but it is the truth.

But here’s the thing. If you enter a competition, you want to win. You want all others to come after you. There is no other motivation. When you don’t win, you can feel despondent. You examine your work. You hold it up to that of the winners. You cast an overly-critical eye on it and wonder where the hell you are going in your photographic journey. But, this feeling passes. And it passes because the endeavour, the hobby, the passion you have for it cannot be diminished by the choices of a judge or judges. No, the passion, the desire to show what you see and to show how you see it surfaces and you get out and you shoot again. And you enjoy it. You get back to looking at others’ photos and they inspire you and the whole things kicks off again. You want to learn. You want to sharpen and sensitise that eye to see better. And you begin to dream that next time will be your time. You’ll win.

I guess what I am saying is competitions are great if you do well, but they sure do suck if you don’t. Photography should not be a competitive pursuit.

My advice to anyone entering a competition, be it photography or not, is to always get back to why you do it. You will find that the answer is because it’s fun. If it’s not then give up. Find another hobby.

Brendan, I want to thank you for giving us all a better idea of how we can remain passionate about our smartphone photography and remain focused on what is important at the same time. I know I’ve certainly learned so much from you in this interview and I’m sure many others will as well.

Thanks to Tommy for doing the interview. Hope these tips help you if you are entering a photography competition. Trust yourself! 

 

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Busan in black and white

Busan was the first place I shot on iPhone using the Provoke app. This app is great fun to shoot with. I just kept it simple. Set and forget. I chose the HPAN filter and flash and began. The shots in this post are straight out of the camera. I am just too lazy at the moment to do the editing.

Busan (shot on iPhone)

I have seen some crazy English on t-shirts in Asia. The one below is not as risque as some. In fact, it actually is quite cool.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Shooting in black and white in strong sunlight is brilliant. I love the high contrast results.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Got to love the Koreans and their take on the iconic Little Mermaid that is more commonly associated with Copenhagen.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

I wrote in my other post on Busan about heading out on the coastal walk and getting sidetracked when I came upon a group of elderly Koreans bathing in pools of water among the rocks. I sure did enjoy shooting there.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

And the sun sets in Busan.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Nest stop Kuala Lumpur.

Also posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, photograph posts, Summer 2017, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Busan in colour

Hitting Haeundae Beach, Busan with the iPhone to shoot some frames. What could be better?

Here goes the first of two posts from Busan shot on iPhone. The first in colour, the second all black and white shooting using the Provoke camera app.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Korea’s second city – a city of almost 4 million people –  is located in the south east of the country. It’s a city I love. Every time I go there I try to stay in the Haeundae area. Why? Because I love the sea and Haeundae is probably Korea’s most famous beach. I am sure you’ve seen shots of it in summer crowded with Koreans. No? Check this so. I had wanted to see this for myself. Did it actually get that crowded? To be honest, when I was there it wasn’t that crowded. Sure there were lots of people, but it wasn’t so bad.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

I got there at the start of August. I had booked an Air BnB for an overnight stay that promised the beach was only a few minutes from the beach and it was. August in Korea is hot, and I love it. Coming from a country where the sun is an unpredictable visitor I just love being in places where sunshine and heat are almost always guaranteed. Of course, one of the main reasons I love the sun is because of the light it brings. And what is photography if it is not about the light.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

I was saying in my Daegu post about older people in Korea. I love them! They’ve got attitude. On the far end of the beach there is this walkway you can take which will bring you out along the coast. I take this walk every time I am in Busan, but this was the first time I was here in summer, only having been here before in early spring when it is not usual for people to be swimming in the sea. Just as I was heading out on the walk I got sight of these elderly gentlemen bathing in these little pools that formed among the rocks. There was this one guy siting with his arms outstretched as the waves splashed in and around him. I stood there for a while just taking it in. How cool I thought. To the left of him were three other guys sitting in a little pool, all chilling in the sea on this hot August summer’s day. I had intended to head out on coastal walk but this was too good a photo opportunity to pass up. Taking great care in my flip-flops I descended the rocks to get closer to them to get some photographs. They were curious at first as to what it was I found interesting, but then they just ignored me and let me shoot a few frames. I spent a good 15 minutes there shooting in colour and also using the Provoke app to get some black and white images.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

How often do you see a cutout cop perched on top of a public toilet and changing area? Not very often. This was just too cool to pass by. I spent quite a bit of time there trying to get the shot I imagined in my head when I first saw it, and like so many times the mental picture is much more vivid that what you can capture.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Part of my ongoing series of images – Photographic Punctuation Photo Booth – I have been stoping and engaging with people on the street and taking/making their portrait. Haeundae was a brilliant location for this and I had a lot of fun with the people I met. One of the funny things was to see the shift in things people immediately associate with Ireland when they learn I am Irish. Usually it is Guinness, U2, Roy Keane, maybe an Irish writer, and the odd person who might mention the IRA. I was a little taken aback when one guy started excitedly exclaiming Conor McGregor. I am not sure what to make of that guy, to be honest.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

8 guys gathering for a late-evening picnic.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Not usually a sunset photographer – but could not resist this.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan in black and white coming up. Stay tuned…

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Daegu

Daegu? Where’s that? South Korea.

It’s Korea’s third biggest city and also known as the oven of Korea as when it is hot in Korea, it is hotter in Daegu. It is a colourful city and Korea’s quirkiness is very much in evidence. It has good restaurants and like most places in Korea it has an an abundance of cafes and food stalls.

Daegu (shot on iPhone)

I love shooting in Daegu. I have this series of images going on of elderly gentlemen in Daegu. I just find them to be so cool. They are snappy dressers and ooze class and attitude. These guys have lived through a lot. I imagine a lot of these men might have seen active service in the Korean war. I love how some of them shout – “Hey, buddy!” or some other American-style greeting to me when they see me. I wish our exchange could extend beyond this and allow me to get to know them a little more.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Young Koreans have their own style. Put one young Korean guy in a room of other Asians and the Korean will stand out. Their fashion style can be unique and geeky. Got to admire that.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Another series of images I have going on from Korea is one focussing on couple culture. I am always struck at how many couples you encounter on the streets in Korea. Very often they will be sporting a ‘couple look’ where both will be dressed in identical clothes. These two are cooler than that though.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

As I said – it gets hot in Daegu and Koreans will do everything to keep themselves protected from the sun. Just wait until you see the beach fashion when I do my blog post from Busan. This guy was cool. He just loved getting his photo taken. His reaction when he saw his image was just too cool.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Cafe culture in Korea is big. There are just so many cafes and while the coffee is good, it sure is not cheap. Anyway, the big glass fronts of these cafes make for good photo opportunities.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

My shooting style changed over the past 12 months. Now, I really enjoy engaging with people on the street. This guy just could not understand what I wanted to do when I asked if I could take his photo. He kept reaching for my phone – thinking I wanted him to take my photo. It was a little battle to get him not to hide the cigarette also. Ya, smoking kills, but they look good in photos.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Recently read an article about street photography cliches. This shot below fell into the category. But hey, I cliche, you cliche, we all cliche.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

And leaving Daegu…

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Next up is Busan. Korea’s second city. Expect lots of beach shots!

Also posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, Street Photography, Summer 2017, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Rebel Street Photography

Met up with the good folk of Cork’s Rebel Street Photography group on Saturday to give a street photography workshop to their members.

In preparing for the workshop it was fun to look back through images I had made here in Cork. Made me think I need to get out more and shoot in my hometown.

CORK

CORK

I have given talks and workshops in various parts of the world and shared the stage with some big lights in street photography, but for some reason I was very nervous for this workshop. Maybe because it was in my own backyard. But like most things in life that you get worked up about, it never turns out to be as bad as you have made out in your head. 

Hitting the streets with Cork’s Rebel Street Photography group

I’ve been working on putting together a series of portraits shot on iPhone. This has led to a change in approach for me. Instead of looking for candid moments, I am now enjoying engaging with people, getting to know them a little as I make their portraits.

Linda and her dog Bud

A man from Tyrone

Kofi from Ghana

Andre from Italy

Cork

Cork

Nothing but the truth in this, boy

The People’s Paper

Bam Artist Artiste

Bam Artist Artiste

Bam Artist Artiste

You can learn more about Bam Artist Artiste here. 

Big thanks again to all in the Rebel Street Photography group, particularly Stela who was absolutely brilliant in making the workshop happen!

Rebel Street Photography Group

Kiss the future…

 

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