Tag Archives: Monogram Asia

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

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, iPhone photography, photograph posts, Street Photography, Travel Also 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.

 

Posted in A Flickr Year, Best of year, iPhone, iPhone photography, James, Summer 2017, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

iPhone Portrait Mode

“But it’s not a real camera!”

2017, and we are still hearing that.

Bangkok -iPhone 7plus – Portrait Mode

At the recent 8 x 8 Street Photography Conference in Bangkok I gave a talk on how the limitations of the iPhone resulted in my experimenting and pushing things creatively. It was a fun talk, but a talk that had impact. One that got people thinking, and one that has encouraged people to embrace mobile shooting.

Galway – iPhone 7plus Portrait Mode

For me, moving from film to digital changed the way I shot simply because I was able to review the images immediately and shoot more. Result being I made more mistakes and I learnt more. But once I began to embrace shooting on the iPhone it changed the way I see; it changed the way I think. Why? Again, it is simple I went from a situation of having a camera – a big, heavy DSLR (that I love to this day) sitting in a drawer only taken out on occasion, to one where I had a camera with me 24/7. Gone were the times when I would see a scene and say to myself:

“Oh, I wish I had a camera with me.”

I always had a camera with me. And instead of passively happening upon photographic opportunities, I was now actively seeking them and actively creating them. I began to see, think and create photographically.

Bangkok – iPhone 7plus – Portrait Mode

Sure, there were limitations. Small sensor which meant poor quality images in low light. But this allowed me to experiment and create images like this in low light conditions.

iPhone 5 (2013)

No zoom? Ya, and that meant I had to zoom with my feet and get in close getting the shot. I also began to discover how perfect the small and discreet iPhone was for street work.

iPhone 4: 2012

A fixed lens? Again, this resulted in more considered compositions. More awareness of what to leave in and more importantly what to leave out of an image. When I look back now at the images I shot with the iPhone I can see how particular I was about composing images; the attention I gave to what I was photographing in an image, and what I was not photographing (what to omit) in a frame.

Tokyo – iPhone 6, 2015

No changeable lenses? Well, there are add-ons – great lenses like the Olloclip ones. But again, I did not want to use them straight up. No, I wanted to experiment and see what else they could do. Macro lens portraits? Ya, why not?

iPhone 6: 2016

And the latest imperfection that causes people to say: “But it’s not a real camera, though, is it?”

Portrait Mode is Apple’s attempt to mimic the bokeh effect that real cameras can achieve. It creates a depth-of-field effect blurring out background and making your subject in the foreground stand out. Can a phone camera really do that? Sure it can!

Tokyo – iPhone 7 plus Portrait Mode

Again, it is something I can achieve with so much more ease on my Fuji or my Nikon, but for some reason it feels differently on those cameras. Working in Portrait Mode with the iPhone is frustrating. You get notifications from the camera telling you to move closer, mover further away, place your subject within 2.5 metres until the DEPTH EFFECT in bright yellow appears. I imagine in years to come we will look back at these notifications and marvel at them. For now, it is slow. It is frustrating. It is hard to use in low light. But here’s the thing: because it slows you down, you become more considered about composition paying more attention to what to leave in and what to leave out of the shot. You become more deliberate about getting things in focus to achieve that depth-of-field bokeh effect.

Seoul – iPhone 7plus – Portrait Mode

And it has changed how I shoot on the street. It brings me closer to the those I am photographing. I have to get close and I have to slow down. Where before I was in close but I was on the move, now I am close but I am with them. This has meant a change. Before I would rarely talk with people on the street. Sure, I would exchange a smile, at most a small few words. Now, I find I am engaging, exploring, getting to know the people I am making portraits of. I could not have imagined this before getting the iPhone 7 plus.

Tokyo – iPhone 7plus – Portrait Mode

Take this one encounter from last Saturday’s MojoCon photo walk in Galway. I saw this man approach. Before I would have slalomed towards him, got in close and shot a burst of images, not looked back and carried on to the next character who caught my attention. This time, I went up to him, introduced myself and asked if I could take his photo (I think the make your portrait or take your portrait thing is nonsense – it is not the collocation of words – it is how something is said and the manner it is said). Sure, he said. I thanked him and began to compose the frame. I told him I was from Cork, up in Galway for a conference and asked him where he was from. He was from Oranmore, about 10 miles from Galway. He had come up by bus. Usually did, he said, on a Saturday afternoon. What did he like to do here, I asked. Place a few bets, have a few pints. Today was a bad day, he said. He had lost and he now had time to kill before he headed back to Oranmore, but at least it was a fine day. Did I like Galway, he asked. I told him I did. I showed him the photos. He nodded his head as he looked at them. I thanked him. We shook hands.

Galway – iPhone 7plus – Portrait Mode

It is a departure for me to engage so much with people on the street. I never had much problem getting in close to get the shot, but I was, could I say shy or even embarrassed to engage with people. Shooting on Portrait Mode has caused me to slow down – focussing takes time – it is frustrating and you do miss shots. But on the plus side it results in a new, fresh approach in street photography for me and it is invigorating.

 

Galway – iPhone 7 plus – Portrait Mode  

But it’s not a real camera, ya? No, it is so much more than that. It’s a wonderful springboard for creativity and experimentation, fun and learning. Embrace its limitations.

Kiss the future…

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, Inspiration, iPhone, Photo Talks, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Bangkok – 8 x 8 – Street Photography Conference

Curiosity, adventure, the unknown, the unexpected. All of these things, and more, got me excited about MonogramAsia’s (MGA) inaugural street photography conference in Bangkok – 8×8. And what will I take away from it all? Wonderful conversations with sensational people; conversations punctuated with beautiful visual distractions. 

Olly, Ben, Shel, Rammy, Chatchai, Paul, Ghatoe, Brendan, Take, Eric, Xyza

Olly, Ben, Shel, Rammy, Chatchai, Paul, Ghatoe, Brendan, Take, Eric, Xyza

Who were these people?

There were big names from the world of street photography presenting and leading photo walks at the event – people like Eric Kim, Take Kayo- a.k.a Big Head Taco, Xyza Cruz Bacani, Olly Lang, Bellamy Hunt, Sheldon Serkin, Ghatot Subroto, Paul Yan, and Rammy Narula.

Everyone knows ERIC KIM. Google knows him so well that when you put in Street Photography into its search engine, Eric pops up in number one position. Some people have a problem with this. They resent his presence. Feel it is unmerited.

Eric Kim and Shel Serkin

But here’s the thing about Eric.

He. Is. Doing. It.

He’s not sitting back and thinking: “Man, I would love to do that!” No! He is on it. He got into street photography, saw the information he wanted, the things he wanted to learn were not easily available online so he set about creating an online resource for people who shared his passion for street photography. And he worked it, creating one of the most influential platforms on the net; all the while sharing his passion for photography and if you read carefully enough – he is actually telling people over and over: this is how I have done it, YOU can do it too!

Meeting Eric is full on. The first thing he said (I mean asked – Eric loves questions) was: Tell me your life story? This was followed by: What’s your philosophy? Then: Why do you make photos? As I struggled to answer these I noticed he was already formulating the next questions from the answer I was structuring. And it is not inane. No, he truly wants to learn – and as he claims, he does truly want to empower people. 

For me, when I look at a photo, I want to see where the photographer is. Because the photographer is in every photo. It can be that you can imagine their physical position in relation to the subject, or more importantly, you can feel their emotion, sense their character, or connect with their curiosity in getting the shot. The photographer is always there. After our photo walk, we all met up for dinner. Eric sat next to me. Without asking he picked up my camera and began to swipe through my shots from the day. Ooh! Eric Kim reviewing my shots. I was nervous I can tell you. But he was inquisitive, sharp, and kind about my images. I asked then could I see his. Sure! We all know Eric is capable of creating arresting street images, but as I clicked through his shots from the day I saw visual images of abstract constructions. Beautiful ones. Photos I was not expecting to see.

Photo by Eric Kim

Another guy who you cannot help coming across online is Japan Camera Hunter, a.k.a Bellamy Hunt (or should that be the other way around?). I had the pleasure of sharing a taxi from the airport to the hotel with Bellamy and it was great to get to know him. Bellamy is interesting and engaging. His story of how he went from working in an office in Tokyo – being a salaryman – to being one of the world’s most renowned camera finders is fascinating. Over the few days with him I enjoyed his dry wit, his very British character, and his kindness too. He gave us a roll of his film and I am excited to try it out. I look forward to looking him up when I am next in Tokyo and shooting some street with him, or just having a nice cup of tea!

Bellamy Hunt

When Ben (MGA founder)and I were first discussing the possibility of an event like this and including mobile photographers in it, Olly Lang was one of the first names I thought of. I have followed Olly for a number of years. I like his photography, but what I got most from Olly was his thinking on where photography was and where it was heading. I had listened to him on the fabulous photography podcast – The Photography Show (go check it out – in fact you will find interviews with Bellamy, Eric on here too). Olly is a deep thinker and what he has to say always gets you thinking. He is also a funny guy. Very often, as you get to know people, you need to tune into to get their humour. Olly cracked me up at times with his dry delivery and ability to snap a comic twist on things.

Olly

They say you should not meet your heroes, and for the main part that is true. Sheldon Serkin is a hero of mine. He shoots on the streets of New York with an iPhone and produces these beautiful, revealing tender (and often humourous) candid moments. Sheldon’s work slows me down, draws me in and allows me to dream. Of all the people at the conference Sheldon was the one I was most excited to meet. And I was not disappointed. Over the five days we talked and talked and laughed and laughed so much. It was super cool to learn how much we have in common: Both English language teachers and both big Dead Kennedys fans. Oh, yeah!!!!

Shel Serkin

Photo by Sheldon Serkin

Gathot Subroto (Gathoe)- from Indonesia. I first met Gathoe when I was in Jakarta last year for a talk with MGA. I felt bad that day because once my talk was over I had to get in a taxi and get to the airport to fly home and I missed out on his talk. Gathoe is a photographer whose work I love. His colourful street work is constructed with care and precision (not an easy thing to achieve on the streets), and it has a beauty and at times a humour to it which is striking. One of the things I love about Ghatoe is his smile. What a beautiful smile! 

Gathoe

Photo by Gathoe

Take Kayo – Big Head Taco. Now, here is a gentleman. Here is a force of nature. When Take starts to talk clocks stop ticking. Take can talk, and talk, and talk. But he engages, and he wants to listen, and he wants to learn. I listened to a podcast with Take on my way to Bangkok (for me the best photography podcast out there is Ibarionex Perello‘s , and this was a great lead-in to getting to know the man behind the persona of Big Head Taco). I connected with Take. I liked his honesty. I liked his style and I liked the way he worked.

Take Kayo – a.k.a Big Head Taco

I am fortunate to get to shoot in amazing cities around the world. Tokyo will always be my favourite, but there is something special about Bangkok. To appreciate this you only have to look at the amazing street photography coming out of Thailand. Chatchai Boonyaprapatsara is the co-founder of Street Photo Thailand (stop reading and click now!). He presented his own work, which I love. and that of the other group members. People will know the work of Tavepong Pratoomwong, but others in the group are producing stellar photographs too. Have you clicked yet? No! Do it now!

Pho

Photo by Chatchai

Rammy Narula! Ben sent me a link to his work before coming to Bangkok and I remember sitting back in my chair and loudly exclaiming “Fuck!” as I clicked through his images. His stuff is good! Rammy is a cool guy. He has a cool beard and he wears cool caps.

He gave a great talk. Shared his process in getting his shots. The dedication to and the vision of what he wanted to create was impressive. He went to the main train station in Bangkok over six months to shoot in a window of light that lasted for 20 minutes on a platform. Six months work boiled down to 29 images. Photography is not about single images. It is about deselection. Killing your babies, as they say, to create something coherent, something cohesive, something with impact that the hits viewer and allows them to dream.

Rammy and Brendan

Photo by Rammy Narula

Paul Yan  what a man! A rock star! A bass player – a record producer from Taiwan living in Beijing. Paul is fucking cool! He has style. His clothes, his jewellery all have personality. Paul puts his heart and soul into his work. I was going mad that I could not see his talk as it clashed with the review session from our photo walk. I had known Paul for sometime online, been a fan of his work, and now can appreciate it more that I know the man. Meeting him makes he want to get to Beijing to shoot street with him and listen to Tuesday Afternoon – the latest band Paul is producing.

Paul Yan – a.k.a Cresting Wave

Xyza Cruz Bacani . Of all the presentations at the conference, Xyza’s was the one that hit me most strongly. On the panel discussion the previous day she had talked of privilege of being able to shoot on the street and it was something I had not considered before. It got me thinking of responsibility; it got me thinking of how fortunate I am. Xyza’s work is on another level in terms of its quality, and in terms of its impact and message. She showed three videos of her work and in each I was quietened. As I said, I look for the photographer in their photographs and In the first video, photographs of couples in Hong Kong, I saw her. I saw her curiosity, maybe her longing, maybe envy, but her talent to observe and construct beauty and tenderness shines. In the others, I saw her ability to tell stories, to connect, to cross boundaries that only photographs have the power to do, and I felt challenged to think about what photography is and can be.

What I will remember about Xyza is her sense of fun too. Together with Sheldon, Renzo, Olly and Yoko we hit the bars together and had the craic, as we say here in Ireland.

Selfie with Xyza

THE PHOTO WALK

One of the questions that arose on the final day for the panel was: Who do you think got more from the conference – the speakers or the participants? One of the easier questions to give a definitive answer to. For me, I got so much from the event. It pushed and pulled at how I think about photography, think about how I see, how I construct/deconstruct visually, how I present and share my work.

Hitting the streets with the participants

When we hit the streets with the participants on the photo walk it was so cool to see how my excitement to be shooting on the streets of their city transferred to them. Before the event I was thinking what I wanted to give the shooters on the photo walk, and I guess I was hoping I could give them inspiration to see things with fresh eyes. Over the course of three to four hours we got to know each other a little. A common question for people who are getting into street photography is how to get over their fears. One little piece of advice I give is to get the first shot in as soon as you can. It is like going to a party. If you sit in the corner waiting for people to come to chat with you, it gets harder and harder. But if you strike up a conversation with the first person you see, then it is so much easier to talk to the next person. It was like that on the walk. Seeing people getting braver and bolder in trying to get that shot was great. Hearing that they felt more confident, and got shots they would never have tried was really rewarding for me.

One of the funniest experiences was getting this shot. What could possibly happen when you get in close and shoot a sleeping, tattooed man who has a Stanley blade in his hand?

What could possibly happen?

The following day we had the review and critique of images shot. Epson, one of the main sponsors, printed the participants’ photos. What I loved about the photo walk is that we may all have walked along the same route but what we saw and how we saw was so different. I was really impressed by the photos they had made, and their ability to self-critique. I shared three of my own photos – none perfect – and it was refreshing to hear their feedback on my shots.

@kawinnie’s photo from the photo walk

I cannot end this without giving huge thanks to my friends in MGA whose hard work behind the scenes meant we could just get on with our roles as speakers/photographers. Everything was in place for us. There were no hiccups. It all ran so smoothly. Why? Because a team was put together that all pulled in the same direction. People who were prepared to do the hard work to get the job done. And it was done superbly.

Big thanks to Elfie – next time on the streets together shooting, my friend.

With my good friend Elfie

 To Victor – he must have a clone of himself sharing his workload.

Victor

To Billy – thanks for being so patient with me and having everything perfectly in line for my talk.

Billy

To Mo at the wonderful boutique hotel – Nandha – and his excellent staff.

Add in to this mix the opportunity to meet Renzo Grande – co-founder of the 24-hour project – who came along to the event, and Yoko – a really special person – who is so kind and fun to be with. On the final day, Sheldon, Renzo, Yoko and I had a fun time out exploring the streets of Bangkok. It was hot, it was humid, but it was memorable.

Renzo, Shel and myself

And Ben – Mr. MonogramAsia – my good friend! My fellow dreamer. Bangkok – 8×8 was a huge success. It’s done now. On to the next one.

Bigger, bolder, better!!!!

Mr. MonogramAsia – Ben

 

 

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, Inspiration, iPhone, iPhone photography, Photo Talks, Street Photography, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

8 x 8 – Street Photography Event – Bangkok

Shooting street doesn’t get much better than on the streets of Bangkok. See it and you’ve missed it, is one of the old sayings about how quickly things happen on the street, and how easy it is to miss that moment. The great thing about Bangkok is that there are just so many moments.

That is what makes this event – 8 x 8 – in Bangkok, organised by Monogram Asia, so exciting. Combine the dynamic, cinematic streets of Bangkok with some of the best street photographers currently shooting and you have a killer combination. I must say I am honoured to be on the line up with photographers whose work I admire so much. It will be a thrill to get to know people like Eric Kim, Gathot S, Xyza Bacani, Chatchai B, Sheldon Serkin, Olly Lang, Rammy Narula.

Bangkok. March, 2016

Here’s how it works. First, there is a three-hour photo walk around the highly-photogenic streets of Bangkok. Each of us will take a group of 8 people on the walk, along the way sharing tips, guiding the participants, and heightening that sense of photographic awareness –  to get that shot

With me, we will be shooting on mobile. That could be an iPhone like me, or a Samsung, a Sony or any one of the great cameras that are on smart phones these days. And you know what? We will be the lucky ones. Why? Who wants to lug around a heavy DSLR? Who wants the world to know you are taking a photograph when you raise that big camera up to your eye? I know I don’t. Sure, I like to shoot with a Nikon DSLR and I also use a Fuji X100T, but the best shots I get, the most fun I have in photography is with the iPhone. It is the perfect street camera. It is fast – one swipe and you are ready to shoot. It focuses correctly and quickly on auto. It’s discreet and allows you to get in close to your subject without startling them to get great candid shots. I could go on and on, but let’s keep the tricks for when we meet in Bangkok.

Bangkok. March, 2016

One of the things I am really excited about is all the conversations about photography and street shooting we are going to have. Lots of this will be informal, but there are two days of formal talks and lectures planned. Big names like Take Hayo (Big Head Taco) Bellamy Hunt (Japan Camera Hunter) and Paul Yan are pencilled in to speak. Then there’s the photo exhibition of the guest artists which is open to the public, as are the stands for all things photographic that will be on display on the same day.

So there you have it. 8 x 8 Street Photography Bangkok. This will be the street photography event of the year. Want to be a part of it? Click here for all details. 

See you in Bangkok.

 

Bangkok. March, 2016

Bangkok. March, 2016

Bangkok. March, 2016

Bangkok. March, 2016

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone 6s, iPhone photography, Street Photography, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

My favourite iPhone photographs of 2016

2016 was another great year for my photography. I had some wonderful opportunities to travel and shoot in places like Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Tokyo, Kyoto, Vienna, Hong Kong, Delhi, Ladakh, Varanasi, Mumbai, Seoul, Daegu, Shanghai, Dublin and of course, Cork. Thousands and thousands of photographs shot on iPhone 6s, 7 plus, Fuji X100T, Nikon D7000 and Sony Xperia Z5.

It has become customary for me to select my favourite photographs of the year over the past number of years. It is something I have really enjoyed, but it is time consuming. Christmas can be a good time for this, or as I have found this year it can be the worst. All I want to do is chill out, watch TV, play with kids and eat and sleep. Oh and drink a little too.

Each morning I wake up and say today will be the day I get it done and each night I find myself saying: Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll do it.

So, tomorrow has arrived, the year has almost ended and it is time to present my favourite iPhone photographs of 2016.

January

I rarely post photographs of family. Am protective of their privacy. This one, shot with the Olloclip macro lens is one that I particularly like. My wife is a patient woman. I know, if roles were reversed,  I would never wait while she tries to get the shot. Full series here.

January, 2016

February

This photograph, shot in the Glucksman gallery in Cork, is one I use in workshops to demonstrate the need to examine the borders of your images when composing your shots. I was focussing on the girl in foreground and her reflection when I saw this man appear in the top left. With a quick reconfiguring, I got him into the frame and adds a little more to the shot.

February, 2016

March

March was magical. Invited by Monogram Asia to come to Singapore, Bangkok and Jakarta to present my photography was an incredible opportunity. I met some truly wonderful people on the trip and made lasting friendships. This shot was taken on the docks in Jakarta. These workers were taking a short break. More here.

March, 2017

April

Blur will save the world, you know. But I still don’t know how. This shot is the result of frustration. Image stabilisation has improved so much on iPhones. I just can’t blur like I used to. But with the Olloclip Studio case and its lanyard holding the iPhone safely I violently swooped and shot in burst mode to get this shot. You can see the whole series here.

April, 2016

May

This is where I begin to cheat a little and choose images that were not taken in the actual month. This is another from Tokyo in April. I have a series of images of people in transport, shot through glass to create layers, distortion and reflection. This bus driver was stopped at the lights in Shibuya and standing in front of him I saw it appear. I knew at the moment of shooting that I would convert it to black and white.

May, 2016

June

Vienna! What a beautiful city. Enjoyed shooting there a lot, especially as I had beautiful summer sunshine for my stay there. This shot is one I waited for. Attracted by the zig-zag reflections of the sun slipping down the metro steps, I knew someone stepping into the scene would add to it. Patience meets luck.

June, 2016

July
There are so many iPhone images I could chose from my trip to India in July, but the one I am going for is this one from Delhi. Images have to have different entry points to work for me. I like this one because of this.

July, 2016

August
Shanghai! Again, many I could choose from but the one I have gone for is this one shot on the Shanghai subway. There is something beautiful about photography that allows for connections. Eye contact is something I try to get in images. It engages the viewer, I think, but what I like about it is the split second of contact created between the person in the frame and myself. There are times it is electrifying.

August, 2016

September

Another image from Tokyo. Sometimes things just appear in front of you and when you see them it is too late. Other times, things will wait. Then you get lucky. So much of photography is luck. Luck and patience.

September, 2016

October
I was so happy when my kids told me their happiest memory from the summer was going to the river with me in the evenings just before the sun set, when the day’s heat had cooled. They would play in the water and I would try to get photographs or I would just sit and watch them be little kids enjoying summer. This shot was after a torrential downpour. They loved jumping over the puddles and I loved it too.

October, 2016

November
iPhone 7 plus. Dublin. Sunshine on a graffitied wall. Wait for someone to enter the frame and snap.

November, 2016

December
And back to Cork for the last one. Comparatively, I don’t shoot a lot in Cork. I tend to store it all up and shoot intensively when away from home. There is something freer about being off home turf. In saying that, I have projects about Cork on the go and quite possibly these will become much more personal and precious to me as the years pass. This is another shot of reflections. Another instance of patience.

December, 2016

2016 has been incredible to me. So many people to thank. So many people who along the way who have in some way enabled me to express myself. In no particular order I would like to thank Ben, Elfie, Saad, Arik, Andy, Nikki, Glen, Dan R, Dan B, Simon, Jack H, Judie, Ankit, John, Mark, Brian, David P, Albion, Thomas, Serap, Jen, Teppo, Cielo, Laurence, Tadhg, Michael V, Darren, Joanne, Janine, Nora, Sir Cam, Paul M, Tim B, Johnathan, Lee, Ruby,  Kevin D, Randy, Dave, Brian, Kieran, Richard and Seiya. And then those loved ones who know who they are – thanks!

2016 – My favourite iPhone photographs

2017 – believe – achieve – kiss the future…

Posted in A Flickr Year, Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, Inspiration, iPhone 6s, iPhone photography, My own favourite photographs, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Mobiography

If you are not already a subscriber to the world’s best mobile photography magazine – Mobiography – then there has never been a better time to do so.
Some excellent features in this issue (including one or two by myself), which highlights some of the great mobile photographers in Asia. People like Laurence Whatley and Arik Chan.
There is also a feature on Monogram Asia and how they are contributing to the photography world.
Go check it out!
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Posted in iPhone, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , |

Blur will save the world

Blur will save the world!

I remember being so apprehensive about posting purposely blurred photographs to Flickr, thinking people would ridicule the images. I felt I should adhere to some sort of photography ethos and try to keep everything in focus, but also felt so drawn to creating blurred imagery. Often asked about what it is about blur that I love so much and the simple answer is that I love the possibility that it allows. I have a simple belief about art – one that gets me into arguments (some people!). The belief is that once an artist shares their work, they cease to own the interpretation of it. The interpretation is transferred to the viewer, reader, etc. With blur, I feel, the viewer has a freedom that in-focus photography might limit. Blur has a beauty also. Ya, sure it is not for everyone, but that is a good thing, no?

For me, when I am creating blur images it is a more deliberate process; calmer and more patient than shooting street. A different experience; a different sense of being in the moment. I shot this series of images in about 5 minutes on a hot night in Jakarta on a Nikon D7000. All are processed in Lightroom.

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Jakarta

Posted in photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Jakarta

We arrived at the Jakarta docks early on a Friday morning. The sun was not breaking through the clouds but the air was hot and humid. A guide was waiting for us to show us around. I don’t like being guided, especially when I am shooting. I need to react to what I am experiencing without distractions. I asked Eflie if the guide was going to be talking all the time on the tour. He said he would. Could he stop, I asked. Elfie obliged and the guide and I shared a nod and a smile and I went about photographing.

Jakarta - iPhone6s

Jakarta – iPhone6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: Fuji X100T

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Posted in iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

B a n g k o k

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Posted in iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , |