Tag Archives: street photography

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! 

 

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, Interviews, iPhone, iPhone photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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.

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, iPhone photography, photograph posts, Summer 2017, Travel Also 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…

Posted in iPhone, iPhone photography, photograph posts, Street Photography, Summer 2017, Travel, Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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!

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, iPhone photography, Street Photography, Summer 2017, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Seoul Reflections

Continuing my blog posts of cities I visited this summer. Seoul is a great walking city and fantastic for shooting street photography. In putting together this blog post I am going to cheat a little and put up photos of shots I got in a short visit I had there in April of this year too. But a little different from the Hong Kong post – this time I am grouping together reflection shots.

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Being there two times this year did allow me to get back and try to improve on shots I had got the first time in April. However, I was not able to improve on the photograph above I got on iPhone in the Myeondong area of Seoul I got the first time around in April. When I got back there in July I tried to replicate this shot on the iPhone but found it really hard to control the light of the reflections of the neon advertisements and at the same time to get the taxi driver’s face exposed.

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

On both trips, I stayed in Myeondong, which is one of Seoul’s main tourist and shopping areas. At the end of its pedestrian shopping area you can find the taxi rank. Directly opposite this you have a huge advertising screen throwing these wonderful reflections on to the taxis parked on the other side of the street. When I first noticed this I came alive and excited and the beautiful light show this created. On both nights, I stayed there for about a half hour trying to get the best shots I could on the iPhone. I got to say the taxi drivers were great fun and I loved seeing their surprise when they realised what it was I was photographing. Funny how people don’t see what is right in front of them, though.

A little further up from the taxi rank are the bus stops. I love how the neon light and colour reflects on the bus windows at night and how it creates these lovely layered and distorted effects. Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

There is something I love about shooting through glass and the effect it creates.

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

I like finding myself in these shots.

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

In some shots, I am easier to find.

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Next stop – DAEGU…

 

 

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

Hong Kong

Five weeks in Asia. Five different countries. Five weeks shooting. Result: I have thousands of images to sort through. While away I was mainly shooting with the iPhone, but I also had the Fuji X100T and Nikon D7000 with me. So, my way of dealing with the images this time is a little different than before. My plan is to go back and organise the images from each location and put together blog posts on each place. This should allow me to work my way through the process of selecting (and more difficultly – deselecting) my favourite images. So, here goes.

Where better to start than Hong Kong. Oh to be a street photographer living in Hong Kong. What an exhilarating place it is. I really would love to live there and get the chance to work more of the series of images I have shot on iPhone there.

Ferry to Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Ferry to Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

I had two short stays there in the summer. The second was extended when a typhoon hit and resulted in a long day spent in the airport. I was never so happy to leave when I did, but now I am longing to get back and hit the streets of Hong Kong again.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

I love the vibrancy of street life in Hong Kong. It is a noisy, colourful and fragrant place. What I like most about it is that you can find a location and work it, or if the mood takes you and you do not mind dealing with the heat and humidity you can keep on the move. Both work just as effectively. Also, in Central, the architecture is just amazing. I came across this wonderful yellow facade in Central and spent some time trying to get a shot which might match what I envisaged once I saw this yellow.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

I spent about 20 minutes or more trying to get the shot below. You can’t have it both ways. I love that Hong Kong is so crowded and there is a constant flow of people, but when I was trying to get this shot I was driven mad by the people walking into my frame. For me, when I am shooting I create an image of the shot I want to get in my head before I shoot. This one I had envisaged to have more of a division between the yellow wall and the passing red taxi and yellow of the bus.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

This one, which lacks the red of the taxi, worked a little better. Still, it is not perfect. Is any shot ever?

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Moving up the road from here I found a wonderful entrance to McDonalds – another yellow wall. Another chance to create some fun images. This time I pushed the iPhone up against the wall and hit burst mode to get these split screen reflection shots. Again, in getting this shot I was hindered by the fact that the white van opposite was parked and for the duration I was there shooting did not budge. I had hoped to add more colour to the shot but alas no. Photography is 99% frustration. 99% of the time, or even more, I do not get the shot I imagine in my head.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

That’s me in the corner standing in front of a bus stopped in traffic trying to get these layered reflection shots you get when you shoot into glass. I like the result here with the guy’s eyes framed in the way they are here.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

I just love the colours you find in Hong Kong. This intersection in Central is one of my favourite locations. The bright yellow painted markings of the crossing are so vibrant and when you throw in the colours of the traffic and the pedestrians it all adds up to great photo opportunities.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

And more yellow.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

And who can resist the cliche shots when you come to Hong Kong? You can’t pass them up really.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

But you can blur it up a little.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

I have been saying how shooting with the portrait mode on the iPhone has changed how I shoot on the street. In Hong Kong, I met some characters, none quite as animated or as colourful as this guy.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Or these friendly guys.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

If you see it, it’s too late. How true this so often is on the streets. The image below appeared to me as I was walking along checking the shots I had just made. Someone using a paper clip as a cigarette holder. How cool. I had to quickly get things lined up to get the shot. Again, it could have been better – crisper, more in focus. But still I like it.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Look up, look up. Hong Kong has great architecture.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

One of the fun things I did this summer with the iPhone was to shoot with the Provoke App. I just love the black and white images it produces. Here are number of those shot in and around Central.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

See you next year, Hong Kong!

Next up Seoul!

 

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

Why I love to shoot with Provoke App

iPhone photography is all about the apps, isn’t it?

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke app)

That is one of the things that gets thrown at me quite a bit. What app did you use for that? My stock response is: “I shoot with the native camera app and do a little editing with Snapseed.”

Busan (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

As a photographer I am very much on the side of those who think photography is about photographs – not about cameras. I tune out when photographers begin to talk about the technical side of things, but conversely I tune in when the topic of new apps pops up. I would tend to download a lot of new photography apps and experiment with them. Truth be told, I have never found a camera app that works better than the native one on the iPhone, and the with all the editing apps I have downloaded there are only two that I use regularly: Snapseed and RNI Films. The other apps live a lonely life in my Photography folder on my iPhone. Things changed a little when I came across Provoke Camera App. From the start I knew there was something different about this one. It was developed by Glyn Evans [the founder of iPhoneography], and as it says on its download page –  it was inspired by Japanese photographers of the late 1960’s like Daido Moriyama, Takuma Nakahira and Yutaka Takanashi. 

Kuala Lumpur (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

I came across the app at an opportune moment. I was embarking on a 5-week tour of 5 countries in Asia. Heading out to do photo talks and walks in Malaysia, Singapore, Bali and Hong Kong. But it was on the beach in Busan, South Korea where I first began to play with my new camera app. The lighting conditions – strong, bright and harsh sunlight were perfect to shoot with the app. There are nine different filters you can use but I let it on HPAN High Contrast for the entire trip. I had found a look I liked and I did not want to stray from this. The app itself is simple to use and allows you to shoot in TIFF format, separate focus and exposure, and shoot with or without flash. Clicking on the ? sign provides an easy to follow guide.

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Shooting on a crowded Haeundae beach on a hot summer’s day was fun. I had never shot with flash before, but once I fired the first blast and saw the results I knew this is what I wanted to do on this trip. Very quickly I learned that using the flash results in shots being missed. It slows things down. This I loved. Why? Because street photography is not about snapshots. Because I was missing shots, I had to become more alert. It becomes about anticipation; sensing the scene before it occurs; timing people’s movements and reactions. It’s funny in real life I am not a patient person at all. Just ask my wife. But in photography I am. With each little failure – shot missed – it pushed me to get the next one better.

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

In the past few months how I shoot on the streets has changed. Why? It’s all down to Portrait Mode on the iPhone. I’ve mixed things up a lot and now will approach interesting characters I encounter on the street and ask can I take their photo (should I say make your photo!?). Invariably, everyone says OK. Like always their reaction initially is one of surprise. But with a smile, a few questions and little telling them of who I am and where I am from, the ice breaks and as I am shooting all through this exchange I sometimes can get good shots.

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Over the course of the trip I was working like this: Interesting characters would get my attention on the street (or beach) and I would approach them telling them I was a photographer and could I take their photo. I would try to explain what it is about them that got my interest – their hat, sunglasses, shirt, tattoos, the fact they were smoking, or that they just looked cool. This led to the ice being broken and we were off. I would start with portrait mode, then power up Provoke and fire off a few shots with flash (works so well for cliche smoke shots), and then whip up the Fuji X100T to round things off. Another thing I did was to shoot extra shots when I felt I was done. This is a little trick I learned from my buddy Eric Kim.

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Kuala Lumpur (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Being summer in Asia it was hot. Being a pale Irishman not used to the heat I quickly learned that it was perhaps better to get out wandering the streets when the sun had gone down. So, a lot of the time the shots I got with the Provoke App was at night, and the results can be quite good. Sure, the quality is not going to match a DSLR or mirrorless camera, but still, I do like the shots I got at night in places like Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Korea.

South Korea (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Kuala Lumpar (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

I was lucky enough to be brought to Kuta beach in Bali with Bali’s best moped drive (and a Fuji X photographer) Gathoe Subroto. He may be Bali’s best moped driver, but I sure was Bali’s worst pillion passenger. I had vowed never to get on the back of a two-wheeled vehicle again in my life years back, but I could not refuse Gathoe. But seriously, never again! However, it was worth it for the shots I got with him in Kuta. Where this app using the H-Pan filter works best is shooting into direct sunlight. I like harsh light and shooting contra luz, especially when you get silhouettes like these.

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

On my travels, when I was meeting up with friends, each and every one I showed shots this app produced all had the same response. “What’s it called?” they asked as they began to search for it and download it on the App Store. My Android friends were not too happy, though. For now it is only available on IOS.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

How could it be improved?

Speed. This is probably the main issue. It is slow. Slower when you shoot with flash. As Rinzi Ruiz says: If you see it, it is too late.” I missed a lot of shots with it. But I always miss a lot of shots. That is street. The other thing that needs addressing is editing. When you want to edit an image from your camera roll it is impossible to locate because for some reason the images appear in a random order. With some closing and opening of the app you can correct it, but honestly I gave up. It needs to be fixed. How? Just allow a copy and paste function. Copy from Camera Roll and paste into app. Also, it would be cool if they allowed access to the dual lens system on iPhone.

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

All in all this is a killer app. The very best I have worked with as a native camera replacement, and most definitely the most fun. And that is what it is all about: fun.

So, is iPhone photography all about the apps? No, it’s about the moments you encounter and try to create memories of through photographs. This app, Provoke, does that and it can produce stunning shots.

Kiss the future…

 

 

Posted in iPhone, Resources, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Flickr

Is Flickr past its best before date? I think so. And this makes me sad. Flickr is where I learned and where my love for photography grew. I first opened an account on Flickr ten years ago. This was the very first photograph I posted.

First photograph posted to Flickr

In those early days I would spend hours trawling through the images on the platform and questioning how did people build followings. How did you get people to come to look at your images? How did you get people to comment? It appeared a mystery at first. Then, with time, I realised it was a reciprocal thing. Go comment on the photos of others and they in turn will come and comment on yours. With this I began to become part of a community. And it was a vibrant one. Looking back at images I posted around 2009/2010, I see that comments on images usually outnumbered the faves. This has now changed, meaning there is less engagement. Then it was great. Conversations evolved and built relationships. Friendships formed and I even met some of the people I had as contacts in real life. Some good people.

Flickr’s big thing was its Explore page. Each day 500 photographs were chosen according to their interestingness. If you hit Explore, your views rocketted. Back in the day your image could also hit Flickr Front Page . Your image, along with about 10 others, would be showcased on the main page of Flickr and also on Yahoo pages. This was the jackpot. I remember actually jumping with joy when one of my photos hit the Front Page. This was Flickr box office. Over a period of about 15 months my images would with regularity hit Explore and every few weeks or so one of them would be picked up for Front Page. I was addicted. I was posting every day. This meant I was shooting every day. Shooting with my first DSLR – a Nikon D40 – a great little camera. I was also consuming large volumes of photography and learning at an accelerated pace in a great community atmosphere.

Flickr Front Page

Flickr Front Page

Then an Explore ban came in. I was blacklisted and no matter what I did or how good my images were I could not make Explore. This was tough. I loved Explore. It also made me laugh when others would say they didn’t care about Explore – bit like those who say they don’t care about Instagram numbers – we all do! But this ban resulted in me becoming more serious about photography. I stopped trying to get images that might be to the style of Explore and began to shoot the things that interested me. I had been shooting a lot of blur – but very little of it hit Explore. Appears the interestingness algorithm did not dig the blur. But I did and with the freedom of not trying to chase Explore hits I began to throw myself fully in that direction. Had I continued to make Explore maybe I would not have made shots like this.

Blur

Or this:

Tokyo 2012

Or this:

Drudgery (Tokyo, 2012)

You might think that my interest in Flickr would have waned with an Explore ban but the opposite happened. I created Flickr groups: Superosity, The Superness of Superosity and my favourite Blur Will Save the World (BWSTW). To this day I keep them active. BWSTW is my favourite. There are some really quality images on there. Go check it out.

In 2011 I set up my first Instagram account and with it started another Flickr account. I did things a little differently. For me, Instagram was a camera app, a way to post images shot with my iPhone onto Flickr. I loved it. In 2012, we went on a family trip to Asia. We had this planned for a long time, but the thing with plans is that life gets in the way. My brother fell ill and had to have surgery while we were away. I felt terrible. So far away when he was in hospital. The way I kept in touch was by shooting images on the phone and sending them back home to him. It allowed us to stay in contact. Not knowing it I was on the start of an amazing, life-changing journey with the iPhone.

Vietnam: 2012

When I got home to Ireland I had hundreds of images shot on the iPhone. I was hooked. I had loved how I could capture moments on the street with the iPhone that would have been hard with the bulky DSLR.

Tokyo, 2012

I began to post iPhone shots on a daily basis. I began to shoot much much more with the iPhone. All this practice meant one thing – improvement. I was actively looking for photographs. I was thinking and seeing photographically and I was pushing the limits of the iPhone and creating imagery similar to what I was doing on the DSLR and all the while it was on Flickr where I was sharing them.

The last note heard

With the DSLR I was on a path with my bokeh heads series. Again sharing it on Flickr was so important. The reaction from friends was very inspiring to continue with this project; a project yet unfinished.

The Weight of Other People

Then in 2014 a Flickr post changed everything. I posted this image used a hashtag – iPhone 6 – and to my complete amazement it ended up on billboards all around the world as part of Apple’s Shot on iPhone 6 campaign. Again, all from Flickr.

God will send a sign. When he does, be prepared.

In reality, while this was my true Flickr moment, it probably caused me to stop posting so much on there. Gradually, my daily posts lost their regularity. Following the herd, I began to post more on Instagram. When I did return and post to Flickr I noticed a drop off in engagement. There was a period when they kept trying to redesign the platform. At one point I was thrown onto a beta test version and it was hell.

So, back to my lead in question: Has Flickr passed its best before date? Definitely for me. Over the past two years I have gone from a situation where I would regularly post daily to my two accounts to now probably posting a handful of shots in the year. Why? Because the interaction stopped when it copied Instagram and allowed people to view a thumbnail of an image and click fave on it. This had the immediate impact that people stopped opening up images and engaging with them. I still try to get on to see the shots of friends and if I post I will spend time reviewing, faving and commenting on their photos. But it has lost its charm. Instagram was a mammoth it was not prepared for. Flickr was slow to react and reacted poorly. It has been left behind.

Can it return to its glory days? Not a hope. The world has moved on. But what it can return to is its community environment. I feel people are disenchanted with the format of Instagram. There is not a community aspect. It is solely about the numbers. It is a commercial platform all about viewing; sharing. Flickr can be about sharing. can be about the love of photography. It just needs someone with vision and passion to reinvent it, not try to copy Instagram.

With that, I am going to stay loyal and head over now and post a couple of shots. See you on Flickr!

Hong Kong (Fuji x100T)

Bali

 

 

 

Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Mira Mobile Prize Competition

Mira Mobile Prize Competition. What is that about?

What are the entry requirements? This competition is for black and white street photography shot on mobile devices.

How many shots can you enter? 3

When is the deadline? September 12th.

What’s the prize? A week in the beautiful city of Porto.

I am really excited to be on the jury for this competition.

Get your entries in. It is free!

Click here to enter. 

Mira Mobile Prize

 

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone Also tagged , , , , , , , |

Today at Apple

Today at Apple. Well, last Saturday at Apple in their brand new Singapore store on Orchard Road for a photo talk and walk. It was great fun.

I got into Singapore on Friday morning and after a quick meeting with Apple staff, where I was told that the talk had reached maximum occupancy in 24 hours, my good friend Arik Chan – whose photos populate this post – and I hit the streets to scout for good photo opportunities.

Now in a big city on a busy Friday evening of course you are going to find them. I was looking for shots which could guide the participants the following day when we headed out as a group.

I have been on a new photographic path since I began to shoot in Portrait Mode. Why? Two reasons: 1. It slows me down – which is always a good thing to help you improve. And 2: it means I get to engage with people on the street. I get to talk to them as I shoot.

Singaporeans are a friendly bunch. Here are some of the portraits I shot.

iPhone Portrait Mode: Singapore

iPhone Portrait Mode: Singapore

iPhone Portrait Mode: Singapore

We had been worried that the weather might not be kind to us. The talk was scheduled was 5 p.m. At 3 p.m on our way to the store it was lashing, but I had a feeling this would not last.

The structure of the talk was to give a background to myself and my work and to guide and inspire them as to the type of shots we could get on the one-hour photo walk.

Here we go Reviewing some of my favourite photos Some of the participants

I love photo walks. Everyone walks the same route, passes the same things, but sees things so differently I am always amazed at the shots participants bring back; very often shots I wish I had gotten myself.

Shooting

With a group of 50 people it is not easy to give individual attention to each person. So with the help of some Apple staff we broke up into 3 groups and I spent 20 minutes with each.

Look up

It was a blast. Particularly seeing people putting what they had learnt into immediate practice.

Putting Olloclip into action

When we eventually got back to the Apple Store for a 30 minute review of each other’s shots I found myself exclaiming – “Wow!” – many’s the time. If you check the hashtag #todayatapple you can find some of their shots.

Reviewing photographs

I got to thank Monogramasia for their continuing support in all I do. Means a lot! Thanks to Olloclip also – really appreciate the backing. To Apple’s excellent staff in Singapore and of course, to the wonderful people who came to the event and made it such a fun experience for me.

With some of the participants

And last, but not least, to Arik Chan for these great photos of the event. Check Arik’s work here and here.

With my good friend, Arik Chan

Until the next time, Singapore…

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, Street Photography, Workshops Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |