Category Archives: My own favourite photographs

Some of my own favourite photographs.

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, iPhone photography, photograph posts, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

My favourite non-iPhone Photos of 2016

Moving on from yesterday’s favourite 2016 iPhone photographs, now is time to review and select my favourite Fuji x100t and Nikon D7000 photographs from the past 12 months. Usually, to do this I just go back over the photos I have posted to Flickr in the previous 12 months, but this year I really did not post a lot to Flickr, and the reality is that most of my best photographs are buried deep in my iMac.

So, to do this I actually need to go back through the images, select and edit them. All will be from the period of March to September. Reality is those two cameras lived in a dark drawer for most of the year. What is they say about the best camera you have?

This won’t be categorised chronologically either; just 12 of my faves – today – December, 31st, 2016! Reality is tomorrow I would choose a different twelve.

A mother’s love (Varanasi, July 2016)

Our guide in Varanasi brought us to a shop to convert our 500 Rupee notes into 20 Rupee notes to give to the people we photographed. He said we needed to do this. I had not intended to shoot posed portraits. I don’t shoot like this, but with a wad of 20 Rupee notes I felt obliged. India has characters who turn your head and stop you in your tracks. The likes of people you have only seen in documentaries or magazines like National Geographic, and being a naiive photographer you want to satisfy your dreams of getting a Steve McCurry like image.

I parted with many 20 rupee notes and got some posed photographs. Unsatisfied with most – experienced as an artificial exchange. Then this guy approached me on a crowded and chaotic street and with gesture indicated he wanted me to photograph him. In the time it took to understand him we were locked in eye contact. When I hoisted the camera he shot his eyes to heaven and for the three or four frames I shot he did not look into the lens. You know, I don’t remember if he asked for money or if I offered it. 

A mother’s love

Bangkok: The slow rhythm of patience (April, 2016)

Had a discussion with a friend of mine about photography and how we use it to interpret what we experience. I told him that very often when I arrive in a city it overwhelms me and to begin with everywhere I point my camera seems to be the wrong place. I said it takes time to slip into the rhythm of a city, to feel its pulse beat in time with mine and then it just becomes instinctive. 

Bangkok was like that. An assault on the senses. The smell of petrol fumes fused with lemongrass. The hum of the constant traffic. The neon and fresh fruit stalls. The swell and sway of people always on the move. The welcoming smile and the 100-mile gaze. The searing heat. At every turn there was something which got my attention; something which I had to capture in a frame.  I had not visited the red light district on my last visit to Bangkok, but this time we were brought on a little tour by a Japanese friend. Impossible to compute it all. The luxury of photography allows time to reflect. Let the camera see.

Bangkok: The slow rhythm of patience

Jakarta (April, 2016)

Arrived in Jakarta from Bangkok in the evening and it felt darker. There was no neon. I remember finding this place and being struck by the colours of the woman passing. I huddled down between two cars and defocussed and began to shoot. I like the image as it seems, to me, to capture the colour, the light and the movement of that evening.

Jakarta

Blur will save the world (Tokyo, April, 2016)

Shooting on the street is frustrating. I recall listening to a podcast with Rinzi Ruiz (a fine photographer) and he said that if you see it, you have missed it. And you know it is true. That decisive moment is elusive, and so much relies on luck. Shooting in Tokyo is electrifying. I love it. The way I work is that I will shoot for a while with the iPhone, then the Fuji, but I usually leave the Nikon for those sweet moments when I push things out of focus and transform what I see into something more beautiful, something less real, something that soothes and arouses, something that is only mine. You do know that blur will save the world?

Tokyo: Blur will save the world

Jakarta (April, 2016)

In Jakarta we visited the animal market. We came across this scene below. The little boy was learning how to train pigeons. I imagine he is the same age as my little boy. The guys training him were patient, encouraging and kind. The pigeons were obliging. Myself and Elfie (seen here behind the little boy) stayed here for about 20 minutes, shooting the scene. Enthralled by the spectacle.

Jakarta (April, 2016)

Varanasi (July, 2016)

Photography is about memories. It is where yesterdays go, as my little girl told me from the back of the car when she was about three years old. Much of my photography is me trying to learn, to internalise and understand what I am experiencing. Then there are the real moments. The purposeful shots we create of loved ones; the photos we would run back into a burning house to retrieve.

Day was breaking and we were on a small boat on the River Ganges to see the sun rise. The sun rose but the clouds did not part. We finished a conversation about toast and took photos. We laughed a lot.

Varanasi (July, 2016)

On Duty (Delhi, June, 2016)

This was shot through the back window of our car moments after arriving in Delhi. The Indian adventure was ahead of us.

On Duty (Delhi, June, 2016)

Hello! (Delhi, June 2016)

I just love this guy. I was sitting in the back of the car as we made our way through the Delhi traffic. Camera in hand should a shot appear. We were stopped in traffic on this roundabout when this guy on a motorbike pulls up next to us. Instinctively I raise the camera and click, and then smile. Then the guy astonishes me as he takes off his helmet and his glasses and shoots me this beautiful big beaming smile. You got to love India!

Hello! (Delhi, June 2016)

Hello! (Delhi, June 2016)

Leh, India. (July, 2016)

Every picture tells a story, but photographs can lie. And this one does. Looking at it, it is conceivable that you believe it to be a Buddhist monk sitting high up on the roof of his monastery meditating as he contemplates the beauty of the Himalayas. But, the reality probably was that this was the best place in the monastery to get online. As we approached him we saw him shuffling as he tried to conceal his phone under his robes.

Leh, India. (July, 2016)

Leh, India. (July, 2016)

Shibuya Scramble Crossing (April, 2016)

The first time I saw the Shibuya Scramble Crossing in 2012 I stopped and I just stared. Two thousand people crossing when the red man is replaced by the green man. I have been back to Tokyo many times since and this never gets stale for me. I can look at it for hours. It is something else.

Shibuya Scramble Crossing (April, 2016)

Things to do in Tokyo at night (April, 2016)

Most of the time I am in Tokyo it is only at night that I get out to shoot. This one was taken on a photo walk with the Laurence Bouchard.  It rains a lot in Tokyo. But it makes it all the more intriguing. I like the high contrasts, and little mystery in this shot.

Things to do in Tokyo at night (April, 2016)

Vienna (June, 2016)

Really should include a photograph from Vienna. Here it is.

Vienna (June, 2016)

I have rushed this and really should have spent more time in preparing this review, but there you have it.

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 non-iPhone photographs

2017 – believe – achieve – kiss the future…

Also posted in A Flickr Year, photograph posts 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…

Also posted in A Flickr Year, Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, Inspiration, iPhone 6s, iPhone photography, Street Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Workflow

How to work out a workflow for thousands images?

Yes, that is right, I have thousands and thousands of images all shot over the past 5 months in Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Toyko, Cork, Dublin, Vienna, Bratislava, Hong Kong, Delhi, Leh, Varanasi, Mumbai, Seoul, Daegu, Geochang, Shanghai and Jeju island.

Thousands of images shot on four different cameras: mainly iPhone, then Fuji X100t, Nikon D7000, and then some on a Sony Xperia Z5.

Where to begin?

Tokyo

I have series in mind, sure. Have begun on some of them already. But the main problem I have is storage. I back everything up numerous times: Google Photos, Flickr, MacBook, external harddrives. But the main devices I use are my iMac and iPhone for storage and, more importantly, editing. And I am constantly getting notifications of Storage Almost Full.

What to do? It took the best part of three days to get all the images (and videos) off the devices and on to the iMac. Before doing this, I had to delete over 100 gigs of photos just to free up space. And I am still nearing capacity on a 1.2tb on the iMac.

The way I like to organise things is like this: I import all photos onto iPhoto. I like the way it creates events and I can give them titles. It is easy to find images from certain locations then.

Then I go through the selection process of choosing (non iPhone – all of those are done on the iPhone) images to edit. The ones I like, I drag over to Lightroom and do the editing there. From that there is another selection process for images to post to my various social media platforms.

This is the way I have worked for years, and there probably are better ways to organise it all, but people do what they are used to doing.

One of my favourite quotes is this:

“Reduce Everything You Want to Do to an Action You Can Do Right Now.” Jason Randal

And for me it is this blog post. This articulation of what I am feeling. It clears a little space – just like deleting gigs on the computer – and allows me to take the next little step.

My father gave me the best advice in life: Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Very often I feel I should have the answers myself; that I should be able to cope, and that perhaps asking for help or advice is an admission of failing. It is not.

My wife gives me the good advice.

I asked her. I said: I do not know where to start. I have too many images.

She said: What is your favourite place that you have been in the past five moths?

I said: Tokyo.

She said: Start there.

I am starting.

Imitation

Imitation

 

Also posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone 6s, iPhone photography, Street Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This photograph

Exactly a year ago, I posted a photograph I had taken a few weeks previously in Copenhagen. Truth be known it was a photograph I was not sure of. I had been trying to get the contrasts right in the image and just wasn’t happy with it. In fact, I was unsure whether I would post it at all. In the end I did share it on Flickr, but held off posting it on Instagram until it first had gone live as part of Apple’s shot on iPhone 6 campaign on huge billboards all over the world. It is such a funny thing how we can see our own photographs. The slightest flaw can deter us from sharing. Thankfully for me I got over that flaw and did share it on Flickr. A year on now, and I realise that had I not posted it, had I allowed my over-critical eye to rule, the most magical experience of my life would never have happened.

A year ago today I posted this photograph

A year ago today I posted this photograph

Copenhagen is such a cool city. I was there on a university exchange visiting the University of Copenhagen for a week. It was the first time I had ever used AirBnb and it was a really good experience. Peter, my host, met me on my arrival. He had everything ready for me and had gone as far as lending me his bicycle for the week and mapping out my route to the university. He also left me four bottles of local beer in the fridge. I knew it was going to be great week!

I arrived in Copenhagen on a Saturday. The day previous I had bought the new iPhone 6 on its release day in Ireland. The 6 was bigger than the iPhone 5 I’d had. I was unsure of how to grip it and very anxious that without a case I would let it slip out of my hand. Undeterred, I set about shooting in Copenhagen with it and very soon discovered the easiest way to shoot with it was to use the volume buttons as the shutter.

As the week went on, I was getting more and more used to it and had managed to get one or two good shots with the new iPhone. Prior to coming to Copenhagen, I had contacted a Flickr friend of mine, Thomas Toft, whose work I am a big fan of. We arranged to meet late Wednesday afternoon in the city centre and the plan was to cycle out to this park with those crazy curved white lines that I had seen in so many of Thomas’ photos.

Thomas Toft and myself

Thomas Toft and myself

It was an early autumn day in Copenhagen. The sky was clouded over, but it was not too cold. After about a 15-minute cycle we arrived at the park. Like many places you have seen in photos, when you get to see them and the chance to shoot it for your appears, at first you feel a little lost and apprehensive as to how you can interpret and present the scene. I knew I wanted to get the sense of movement of the lines, but I was unsure whether it would work best blurred or in focus. As it turned out, it had to be in focus.

It was great being with a fellow photographer. If I am asked to give advice to aspiring photographers, one tip I would always give is to spend time with other shooters. You need it. I find I discover a lot about my own photography as I am chatting with others. Being there in Superkilen Park in Copenhagen on the greyish autumn day with Thomas is a memory I will never forget. Our conversation rarely strayed from photography and we bounced ideas off each other on how we would shoot this place. After a while, we changed location to get a different perspective from the top of the hill. It was here that I knew I would be able to compose the shot I wanted. From this vantage point the lines flowed down and away from me. The sense of movement I wanted was there. Now all I had to get was a human element and as we chatted and waited people began to pass through the park. I took about 5 shots in total from this position. Later, back in the apartment, reviewing my images I saw that I had one or two that were OK. I really liked this one, and the other, the one that would go on to be seen all over the world – well, that was OK.

Last one to leave

October 31st, 2015, I posted it on Flickr and wrote this blog piece about the two images I was posting on that day. You can see that I wrote virtually nothing about the image. For me, it was, at that stage, just another iPhone photograph. But the really curious thing is the title I gave it. Now, I am not a religious man. I have a God-shaped socket, but no plug fits it. But yet, I gave this photograph the title: God will send a sign. When he does, be prepared.

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

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

So many times this year I have reflected and tried to work out what that sign might be and why I gave the shot that title. For me, titles either come or they don’t. If they do, it is swift. This was swift. Looking at the image, I recall feeling that the four people were all independent actors, unaware of and disconnected from each other, but at some moment something could happen that would cause them to be together, or to need each other and when it happened, they would need to be ready.

Of course, as things turned out, with Apple licensing the image and it going viral around the world and all the attention it brought me, I began to think of a personal meaning for this title. And you know what, I do not have a fully-formed idea about this, except to say that I believe it means that I need to push this as far it can go and to make the most of the talent I have been given.

Since the Shot on iPhone 6 campaign went live in March such brilliant, unimagined things have happened. Along the way, I have had many accolades and successes, visited new and exciting places, gained exposure and had the chance to showcase my work in so many different formats and areas, but the thing that struck me from the very beginning was the reaction of family and friends to my success and how supremely fortunate I was to be able to share it with the people I love. A good friend of mine, Liam, passed away after a long battle with cancer just weeks before this started. When we used to meet up, he wouldn’t burden me with how he was, but would want to know about what I was up to. I would tell him the little stories about my photography and he loved to hear them. The only regret I have about this year is that Liam did not live long enough to share this with me. He would have loved it and he would have loved taking the absolute piss out of me about it too.

At the moment, I am trying to put together a series of images of the billboards and posters from around the world that I am going to frame and hang at home. I was lucky to get to see billboards for myself in Milan and Tokyo and these will be great ones to get framed, but it will also be so cool to do the same with some of those sent to me from Flickr friends and also from people who I had never known before, but who took the time to get and send me a shot of the billboard in locations all over the world.

So much has happened in the year since I posted the photograph. So much unimagined adventure. And the amazing thing is that things just get better and better.

Kiss that future…

Brendan Ó Sé Mobile Photography Workshops

Brendan Ó Sé Mobile Photography Workshops

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Instagram

Instagram is great with numbers. It calculates how long has passed since you posted in minutes, hours, days and finally in weeks. My Instagram feed goes back 238 weeks, which can be more easily understood in 4 years and 6 months. That is a long time of regular posts and a long time swiping up to get to that first Instagram post to establish how long I have actually been using Instagram. There was a big broohaa about Instagram last week when it updated and allowed non-square images to be shared. This was a great update to what already is a fabulous platform for sharing photographs. But here’s an idea Instagram – why not give us a time option so we do not have to endlessly swipe up to see photographs we posted all those hundreds of weeks ago. Wouldn’t it make sense? Put a little calendar icon there for us and let us make that trip down memory lane without exhausting our poor thumbs.

My first-ever Instagram post (238 weeks ago)

My first-ever Instagram post (238 weeks ago)

Instagram, love it or hate it, there has been nothing like it in the history of photography. I could bore you with statistics, but doubt I really would. People love them. Me too. So here goes. Instagram has 300 million active users. 75 million use it every day. I am one of the 75 million. If you are reading my blog, which nearly always has to do with photography, you are probably one of them too. More men than women use Instagram and the second most instagrammed food is Sushi. Now to find the most instragrammed food; well, you will need to google that for yourself.

Here are some of my own statistics as of September 10, 2015. I have posted 2085 images. I have 1840 followers. I follow 266 people, and in the past week or so I have deleted more than 1500 of my photographs. I want, and will, delete many more. Why? Because Instagram is a photography cemetery. Who swipes up for that long to see what you posted 238 weeks ago. Really though, who counts time in weeks?

Despite the tiredness in the thumb, it was great to go back and revisit photographs. So many brought me right back to the moment of the shot – the associated sensation, the excitement,  and immediately I remembered if was I alone or with someone. I found it powerfully provocative swiping though those images; discarding and deleting so many, but some stopped me in my tracks and had me enthralled. In putting together this blog post I could have chosen from many images from hundreds of weeks gone by, but the ones below seem to represent my Instagram journey best.

Photographs of my kids are so special to me. I am very protective of their privacy and nearly all the shots I post of them are shot from behind. I think it is a combination of protection and preparation for when they will be independent of me. This is one of my all-time favourite photographs. One I commissioned a painter to paint and we have it large and framed on our living room wall. Their innocence and intrigue at the passing world outside the window forever captured.

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My children (204 weeks ago)

I was struck recently by this quote from Benjamin Disraeli: “Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”  At first, it seems like a contradiction and from that you begin to question it to understand it and then realise how true it is. It leads me to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s quote about memories: “What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” 

Looking back over my Instagram images, which are in actual fact only fractions of a particular second, I find they can catapult me back in time to that very moment I shot them. Like this one shot on a rainy, humid day from the passenger’s front seat of a car travelling from Ha Long Bay back to Hanoi. I was listening to The New Yorker fiction podcast of Junot Diaz – How to date a brown girl. I can still hear the low tones of the voice. What should have been a 90-minute journey was taking over four hours. My two travel companions were asleep in the back seat and our driver and I shared smiles and nods as he had very little English and I had zero Vietnamese. Outside the rain fell and fell. The hypnotic windscreen wipers swept back and forth many times before I saw the photograph appear. When I did, I was so pleased. The image shows a fraction of a second of a four-hour journey but from it sparks so many recollections of friendship, fun and shared discovery.

Vietnam

Vietnam (177 weeks ago)

It was from this trip to Asia in 2012, that I really became a photographer and the reason being was that for the first time I had a camera with me all the time. In those five weeks in Asia I posted hundreds of images on Instagram from Hong Kong, Hanoi, Seoul, Daegu, Busan, Tokyo and Kyoto. It was so easy. The whole photographic process was made simple on the iPhone and Instagram: Shooting, editing and sharing all on one device. Back then my brother was in hospital for major surgery and Instagram allowed me to share my travels with him and take his mind off things a little. When I look back at those images now, the sense of distance I had from him was shortened with Instagram. It was hard being so far from home when he was so sick, but I knew he would want me to enjoy myself, and I did. It was wonderful to be able to share what I was experiencing with him on Instagram. Thankfully, he made a full recovery.

Busan (178 weeks ago)

Busan (178 weeks ago)

After having so much fun with the iPhone and Instagram in Asia, I decided that when we went for a short break in Barcelona later in the year that I would only use the iPhone. How freeing it was not to have the heavy DSLR and all those settings to manage. With the iPhone I was able to see and shoot and with Instagram edit and share. Perfect. It may be 159 weeks ago, but I would probably shoot this again exactly as I saw it back then. OK, I probably would straighten it.

Barcelona (159 weeks ago)

Barcelona (159 weeks ago)

With the iPhone I moved more into street photography. The camera, which was also a phone, which was also a music player, was perfect for candid street portraits. It allowed me to get in close without drawing too much attention, like in this shot.

Barcelona (159 weeks ago)

Barcelona (159 weeks ago)

How did the iPhone and Instagram help me to develop as a photographer? Well, I went from a situation where I would only take a camera out on occasion to having one always with me. Gone were the moments when you would see an image and curse the fact that you had no camera with you. The iPhone was always with me and because of that I was becoming more and more sensitive and alert to photographic opportunities. This image below is a great example of this. Here’s the story behind it. I was having an argument with my wife – as you do. Couples argue. We were at a function in Dublin and arguing over something silly that I cannot recall. While we were arguing these two cracks in the wall got my attention. The lines seemed in harmony and at the same time not. I was struck at how fixed and permanent they were; how distant, but always together. I got the shot and like always the first thing I did was to show it to my wife. That’s us, I said. She said nothing in reply, but gave me a look. We continued to argue for a little while after that, but I remember being very pleased that I had seen the shot and had got it.

Disagreement (120 weeks ago)

Disagreement (120 weeks ago)

Then there are ones of trees and how those trees need to cheer the fuck up. Sitting in a crowded hall at an education conference in Berlin my attention was drawn to the high glass windows and those trees that shivered in the cold and rain outside. I had not been in Berlin for 6 years. The last time I had been there I had a series of telephone calls that would change my life forever. As I sat lost in those thoughts, I was staring into the distance watching the rain run on the window and the trees shiver ever so gently a little beyond. I broke myself from that melancholy and photographed the scene.

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Berlin (144 weeks ago)

The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.”  (Alain De Botton)

Swiping down through the thousands of images I have posted to Instagram over the years, photographs from my travels dominate the stream. It is funny, but the ones that convey the sense of excitement most are shot in airports. Is there anywhere as exciting as an airport when you are about to head off on another great adventure? Although airports are never as exciting when you are making your way home.

Sometimes things just line up for you and you are compelled to see and shoot. This is one of those instances. I was on my way to Germany, via Amsterdam, queueing to board a plane in Cork airport and as we snailed along I saw the passengers embark at the far end of the plane. With the queue trundling along at no great pace, I had time to frame the shot.

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Cork Airport (126 weeks ago)

When I got to Amsterdam, I was snap-happy and shooting a lot with the iPhone. Airports are so often such magnificent examples of modern architecture and have so many elements a photographer looks for like great light and there probably is no other place where you can find so many people from so many cultures. For this image, I crouched down on the travelator and set up the shot. I shot a lot of images from this perspective as I waited for my connecting flight to Germany, much to the bewilderment (and sometime annoyance) of my fellow travellers.

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Amsterdam (126 weeks ago)

Instagram is much more than a photographic document of the past 238 weeks of my life. As I swipe down through the images I am drawn in and swept off to reacquaint myself with past adventures. I see my two children growing up. I see how I want to see and show and share the world around me. I see my photographic style emerge and evolve. I see me.

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Brendan (99 weeks ago)

Kiss the future!

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Florence International Photography Awards

IT was a great honour to win ‘Best in Show’ at the Florence International Photography Awards with my iPhone photograph of Shibuya Night. Here is a little background piece I wrote about getting that shot on iPhone image

It was still lashing rain when I got out of the taxi in Shibuya. The driver left me in front of the entrance to my hotel. A little up ahead from me, people were heading for the last late-night trains home in a procession of umbrellas crossing that famous zebra-striped pedestrian crossing. The neon lights were rushing colourful reflections on the black and white street. A countdown had begun. In a short few hours, four to be exact, I would be leaving Tokyo. What to do: Head to the hotel room or stay out in the rain looking for that one last photo? I looked at the hotel entrance and saw the dimmed lights of the lobby and then looked at the scramble crossing – resplendent in the rain – and without hesitation headed there.

With my transparent, plastic umbrella held over me in one hand, my iPhone in the other and my Nikon swinging from my neck, I waited at the crossing for the green man t0 appear. At this late hour there were many fewer than the average 2000 people who cross at peak time during the day. I had been shooting through the plastic of the wet umbrella with the iPhone all day. I liked the bokeh it created and the somewhat surreal gloss it gave to the images, but as I waited for the green man to signal I had been looking at that man opposite me, that man who had been peering down at me for the past few days. That man with his hand open at his face and his fingers curved over his eye staring at me, and below him was this cackle of late-night hawkers handing out flyers for bars and clubs. I knew my frame.

The green man popped up and I moved with the others as we began to cross. I stopped about halfway to get some shots. There is about a two minute window to get across when the green man is up. A long time in photography. The green man began to flash and in an instant I was the last man standing in the centre of the crossing. Still, I stayed there in the centre. I did a slow pirouette, taking in the vast scape of all that is the Shibuya Scramble Crossing. The air was fresh. The only sound I heard was the rain water as it splished and splashed under my shoes and I was saying to myself: All of this will just be a memory tomorrow, but I am here now; here now.

The squelch of tyres on the wet of the street alerted me to the oncoming traffic. Eyeballing the taxis I weaved my way to the safety of the other side of the crossing.

There in front of me, sheltering under plastic white umbrellas, were the late-night hawkers, shuffling about and handing out their flyers to those they perceived were the demographic the bars or clubs were trying to attract. Glances were thrown at me and clearly I did not fit that demographic.

Left alone, I began to frame the shot. There, among all the guys was this one girl, dressed in high heels and a mini skirt; her head bowed, engrossed in her phone. And above her, to the left this man overseeing it all. Click! I got it.

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Shibuya Night: Best in Show at the Florence International Photography Awards

The countdown clock still tick-tocked my time away in Tokyo. The rain would not stop and I was getting tired. Things run their course and time in Tokyo was coming to an end. I waited for the green man to replace the red man and I crossed the Shibuya Scramble Crossing for the last time, leaving the neon of Shibuya for the low-lit lamps of the hotel.

The next day, sat on a plane heading home, I reviewed my images on my phone. This one I stopped on. Using the new version of Snapseed, I did a little editing. A few days later, I posted it to Instagram and then later to Flickr. It hit Explore, got more than a thousand faves. Then I entered it in the Florence International Photography Awards and to my great surprise it won ‘Best in Show’.

So glad the dimmed lobby lights of the hotel were no match to the rain-drenched Shibuya Scramble Crossing at night.

The adventure of photography. 

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The Story of my ‘Shot on iPhone’ Photograph (continued)

I finished writing my blog post yesterday about an hour before I went on live radio to talk about my photograph with Dave Fanning12. Driving over to my parents’ house to take the call, I realised that radio is perhaps not the best medium to talk about photography and that I would need to be as descriptive as possible to paint the picture of my photograph. I had chosen to go to my parents’ because with two small kids in the house it would have been hard to get a quiet space needed to take the call.

I was told that they would contact me between 11 to 12. Being a stickler for time-keeping I was ready well before 11. Waiting. Playing over and over in my head what I imagined the conversation might be like. I told myself to relax, to enjoy it. At 11.35, the researcher from the Dave Fanning show called telling me they would call back in five minutes and to be ready. I was ready.

I had the phone in my hand waiting for the call to come. Checking updates on Twitter and Facebook when an email came in from a very good friend in Hong Kong asking had they missed the interview. “No, any minute now. Get online to RTE2 and listen!’ Any minute now.

And then that minute came. I left the phone ring a few times, took a few deep breaths and answered. “Hold the line and Dave will talk to in a while.’ ‘OK, great thanks’ I said. A song was playing and I was on hold, waiting to do an interview with Dave Fanning. Crazy! Then that unmistakeable voice came in talking over the end of the song. A voice that *** right through my teenage years.

“What happens when the right person stumbles across a photo you took and they want to use it?  Well, It happened to a Cork man, Brendan Ó Sé, by name, and a photograph that he took on his phone is on billboards all around the world, and he’s on the line now. Brendan how are you?

“I’m fine, Dave. How are you?

And my interview with Dave Fanning began. You can listen to the full interview here. Scroll down to see the link.

I was really pleased I was able to get in the request for my friend Liam who had recently passed away. He was a dear friend who would have loved all of this. I just wish he could have been here for this. After the interview, the beep beep beep of the phone started. Messages of congratulations came in from family and friends. I found myself very emotional after the interview and found it hard to talk even to my wife. When things settled a little, I began to read the messages sent in to me. All were so full of praise and kindness. They meant so much to me.

My parents had not heard the live interview. So, about an hour later I headed back to their house on my way to work and cued up the interview on my mother’s laptop. I was in a bit of rush for work and did not have time to listen to the interview myself, but as I was heading out the door  it began playing for my parents and I heard Dave Fanning introducing me. How cool! I don’t know if I will listen back to it. It is strange listening to your own voice.

After the interview, it was great to get tweets from people who had been listening to the interview and in particular from people in Cork. Some of them were really kind. This is one I enjoyed a lot, particularly as the European headquarters for Apple are in my hometown, but there is no promotion here. I should get on to Tim Cook.

Tweet from Jennie O Sullivan

Tweet from Jennie O Sullivan

While in work, I was able to check the phone every now and then and I was thrilled when I saw an email had come in from a Flickr friend, Dirk (check out his excellent Flickr stream), based in Hamburg with images of my photograph on billboards there. Wow! A very big thanks to Dirk. I like the way he composed the shot with pedestrians crossing. It is a fine composition.

Hamburg

Hamburg

Later in the evening, myself and my wife went out for a meal to celebrate. It was lovely to get some time together after the all the excitement of the week. When we sat down in the restaurant, I said to her I would turn off the phone so as not to be distracted by Facebook or Twitter updates. “No, no, no, she said. I want to know. This is why we are celebrating and it is so exciting.” I left the phone on and during the meal a few updates came in via Twitter. One of these was a a link to an Instagram shot of a billboard on Freeway 280, just outside San Francisco. This one was surreal. There was my image on billboard perched on the side of a green field taken from an open stretch of the highway. It looked crazy.

Highway 280 San Francisco (Thanks Barbara)

Highway 280 San Francisco

Immediately, I got on to Instagram to make contact with the person who took the shot and to see if they would be so kind as to send it to me. She agreed and the next day she sent me another shot of the billboard this time taken from her car. Part of this whole experience has been the people I have met along the way and the positive responses and kindness they have shown. Barbara is a great example of this. Thanks Barbara.

Highway 280, San Francisco (Thanks Barbara)

Highway 280, San Francisco (Thanks Barbara)

Definitely, one of the great things about all of this is the little community that has developed among the photographers who are part of this campaign. We are all working together trying to unearth our images in the different locations around the world. I have been really struck by the kindness of some people. Nat – @pineylonesome – came across my image on a billboard in San Francisco that someone on Instagram had posted and alerted me. Cielo de la Paz – @cielodlp has offered to drive to this location (apparently on the 280 freeway) to see if she can get a shot for me. Jen Pollack Bianco @lax2nrt has been particularly kind in taking many shots of the billboard in Hollywood. And I really cannot leave out Megan who is doing such great work trying to pull all the images from this campaign on her Twitter account @ShotoniPhone6. If you come across any #shotoniphone image, you should send them to her. And please, if you see my shot, send it to me.

It  was really nice to see the piece on the Irish Examiner was one of their most popular on the day it was posted. This one is really pleasing because, while this is one of the biggest national newspapers in Ireland, it is Cork based and known to all in Cork as de paper.

Irish Examiner

Irish Examiner

There have been so many appearances of the image on different media sites over the past few days and I have been gathering them together. These reports tend to make a selection of images to make their reports and it is so cool to see that mine is chosen so often. The Huffington Post’s report of the campaign was a real thrill. It used my photograph as the lead image of the report. Thanks to my friend, Jon-David for sending me this.

Huffington Post

The Huffington Post

Another one very cool one was seeing my image on Time Online’s report.

Time Online

Time Online

Looking at the headline to many of these reports and you will see the same sort of headline. Show people an image taken on the iPhone and more often than not the response it first elicits will be “I can’t believe that was taken with an iPhone!” I have been hearing if for years and I know it is understandable, but do you ever get someone responding to listening to music on a iPhone saying “I can’t believe that this music sounds so good on an iPhone!”? No! There is an expectation that the technology can allow for music to sound great from a phone; but to produce really beautiful photography from a phone? Never. Well, yes it can! And it has been like that for years now. Check out the standard of iPhone images on one of my iPhunography Flickr group. There is some stellar work being done in the mobile photography world. If you are looking for people to follow, here are a few I recommend. @mdkistlerMark T. Simmons@shelserkinJanine Graf@mimokhair@leethatch@lee_atwell@albionsamson to name but a few. There are so many I could list.

I woke up on Sunday morning with a direct message on Twitter from Fábio telling me he had seen my photo in Chicago. It is so cool when people I have been sharing photography with over the years find the photograph. I do wish it was not such a treasure hunt, though. My fear is that this campaign will end and I won’t have seen all the places where the photograph was posted. I am still waiting to see billboards from Kuala Lumpur, Bogotá, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Milan. We have been told that the image is in 70 cities, but where exactly, we do not know. It adds to the excitement when you find one, but I would love to know where they are. Particularly New York. Unfortunately, my brother, who is in New York for the weekend, has not been able to find the poster of mine there. I had seen a shot of it earlier in the week from the Port Authority metro station, but he went there and was unable to find it. It is a real pity because I had hoped to get a shot of him standing next to it. That would have been super cool. Who knows maybe today he will be able to find it. Let’s hope. So, please if any of you find my image anywhere, please take a photo and send it to me.

Big thanks to Fábio, who sent me this from Chicago.

Chicago (Thanks to Fábio)

News about Milan. Originally, we had no sitter for our two small kids, but my sister has now kindly offered to mind them. This means that my wife will get to travel with me to Milan. That is just so cool. Got to say thanks to my friends who also offered. Thanks!

You can read about Part 1 here and Part 3 here.

Also posted in iPhone, My Story of my 'Shot on iPhone' Photograph, photograph posts Tagged , , , , , , , |

The Story of my ‘Shot on iPhone’ Photograph

The past five days have probably been the most exciting days of my life. Seeing an image I created on the iPhone going on display on giant billboards in different cities all over the world has been beyond my wildest dreams.

My photo on a billboard in Hollywood, Los Angeles

My photo on a billboard in Hollywood, Los Angeles

It all started back in Copenhagen last October. I was there on a week’s visit to the University of Copenhagen as part of an exchange program from my own university. Before heading out there I had arranged with one of my friends on Flickr, Thomas Toft, to meet up for a photo walk (which in Copenhagen means a photo cycle). I had seen one of his images from Copenhagen of this  location with crazy curved white lines on the black tarmac. The way Thomas created the image with the strong contrasts of the black and white lines and with the shadow of the lone man really impacted on me. When I travel, opportunities to get out shooting are always highest on my list of priorities and if I know of a good location, it gets me excited. So you can imagine how I felt about having the chance to go shoot in this quirky place. I was so looking forward to it.

I had only ever been in contact with Thomas via Flickr email, but once we met, we hit it off immediately. We hooked up on a late autumn evening in October in the centre of Copenhagen. First, he brought me to this beautiful building that had an amazing spiral staircase and elevators without doors that never stopped – you just had to hop on and hop off – carefully. After this, we got on our bikes and joined the hundreds of other Copenhagen cyclists on the many cycle lanes that the city has, and we made our way out to the Norrebro area of Copenhagen where this park, know as Superkilen Park,  is located.

Very often when you get to see things you have only ever seen before in a photo in real life it can take a while to take them in. This was the case when we arrived. Those long, curving white lines got my eye and I found myself following their path. It really was a cool spot! After some time shooting a few frames, I got the idea of how I wanted to create an image there. The lines lead the eye on a journey and to best accentuate that would to be compose it from an incline. We headed up this little hill for this different perspective. The shot below which I took with my DSLR shows  this perspective and from where I took the iPhone shot.

King of the castle

King of the castle

Standing now in the position where the person is in the image above, I knew would allow for the kind of shot I was looking to get. We stayed up on top of this little hill for about 25 minutes, chatting and getting some images. It was a quiet evening and there were not that many people passing through. Knowing that I wanted to get the human element in the photograph, I waited. Photography can require a combination of patience and luck at times. Fortunately, for me four people entered the frame, three walking and one on a bike with the lines twisting down to meet them as they went on their way. Reviewing the image after I had taken it, I was reasonably happy. I knew I would later convert it to black and white to bring out the contrasts of the lines against the black surface. Here is the original image.

Original

Original

Later in the evening, I used the iPhone app Snapseed to convert to black and white and play a little with the contrast.

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

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

Now, here’s a funny thing. When I posted it to Flickr on October 31st, I gave it the title – ‘God will send a sign. When he does, be prepared.’ I am not religious, but I do have a God shaped socket with no plug to fit it. I seem to recall that the image made me feel that the four characters in the frame were just going about their daily business, each unaware of the other, but that maybe some day they would need to react and they would need to be prepared. I like giving titles to my images and while it can be hard, when it does work, it adds a dimension to the photograph. Does this title match the image? I am not sure. But it sure has gotten me thinking!

The photo received a great reaction on Flickr, getting thousands of views and some great comments from my Flickr contacts. Time moved on and the image lay there in my Flickr stream like all the others. Then out of the blue in December I got a Flickr mail from a person who had zero photos asking me to contact them about a research project. I ignored it. It was spam. But when the person sent the mail again urging me to be swift in response, I replied. Details were sketchy. There might be interest in my photo, would I be interested? Ehm… OK.

Then to my amazement I saw the name Apple and I was definitely interested. They were interested in two photos, the above one and another from I had taken in Berlin. Through the jigs and reels and many emails later we arrived at the end of February and I got an email congratulating me on my image being part of the Apple World Gallery. I was thrilled! Later, I got a phone call to congratulate me and I thought I heard the woman say that as part of this my image would be on billboards and posters in 70 cities in 24 countries. She couldn’t have said that, though. No.

Monday came and the page went live on Apple. What a buzz to find my image there, and in fifth place as you scroll! It was so great to see the other images selected. One after another and I was going wow, wow, wow. They all looked amazing. Apple had done such a great job in choosing these. Really impressive.

Later that morning, I got an email with a list of cities where, I was told, my image was on billboards. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Charlotte, Bogota, Hamburg, Berlin, Milan, Kuala Lumpur. Ya!? Really. Could it be? So, she actually had said that. Wow! How super cool!.

But how could I get to see them? As you can imagine, I wanted so much to see them. I got on to Flickr. Checked the locations of my friends there. Were any in these cities? A few. Anton was in Berlin. Dirk was in Hamburg. Nigel in LA. I had a chance. I set about writing emails. Please, please if you are anywhere these locations can you find if my image is on a billboard there? Of course, came the reply and the next day, Anton had located my image in Alexanderplatz Train Station in Berlin. It was true! My photo was on a billboard.

Berlin

Berlin

It was hard to take in. I stared at the screen, eyes wide with amazement. Wow! A few short months previous I had been standing on that very platform in Berlin and now there was this huge billboard with my photo.

On my social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, things began to get a little crazy. So many messages of congratulations. Then I began to do a search on the #shotoniphone hashtag and lo and behold images of mine started to appear from New York and Boston. Then I found someone had set up a Twitter account @shotoniphone6 and that they were tweeting images of people’s shots from around the world. From that I got to meet some of the other photographers whose images were chosen. This has been a great thing also in that we can share our excitement and awe of finding our shots in the wild. Thanks to Ryan Healey for sending me this image.

Boston

Boston

On Tuesday night, I hardly slept. There were so many updates on Twitter, and then my friend in LA, Nigel sent me a shot of my image on a billboard in Hollywood. Hollywood!

Hollywood, Los Angeles

Hollywood, Los Angeles

I got this about 5 in the morning. There was no chance to get back to sleep. I was exuberant. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined this. It is beyond cool. I was working early on Wednesday and I had already told my boss about it and she encouraged me to share the news in my university. She kindly wrote a little piece with the accompanying photo from Hollywood and this then appeared on my university’s social media platforms. This thing was gaining momentum.

The next day was probably the craziest. It the space of about 20 minutes, I got a request from a Danish journalist for an interview, an email from Apple’s P.R person about an interview with the Irish Independent and then this came in:

Shibuya, Tokyo

Shibuya, Tokyo

Now anyone who reads my blog or follows me on Flickr will know that I absolutely love Tokyo and that if I love Tokyo then Shibuya I  a d o r e!  I immediately rang my wife. ” You can’t believe it!. It’s in Shibuya! It’s in Shibuya! And to make it even more cool was the fact that Laurence had created such an amazing shot of it. I was so delighted.

Later in the day, I did the interview with the Danish journalist and Adrian from the Irish Independent. Here is the Danish piece. Still waiting to see of the Independent publish the interview.

On Twitter, more and more images began to appear of shot on iPhone ads from around the world, but no new ones of mine, unfortunately. Apple is so clever. They don’t sell products, they sell experiences. The hype surrounding their product releases is something to behold. An Apple product launch is headline news. This latest campaign of theirs has those involved in it on a treasure hunt. We do not know when the campaign will end. We don’t know exactly where our images are appearing. We have to scour the net for them. Sure, some photographers are lucky that their images are on billboards in their hometown, or they are like Austin Mann who gets to film the unfurling of his awesome ad (this is well worth watching), but I am from Cork, albeit the home of the European headquarters of Apple,  there is no promotion here. But I guess it all adds to the excitement. If anyone reading this comes across the photo, can you please send it to me?

On Thursday night, I tweeted the image Nigel had sent me of the billboard in Hollywood and it got retweeted so many times. From this, the Irish Examiner contacted me and did this piece on me. From that, numerous people got in contact to congratulate me. Then on Friday morning, I got a tweet from the Dave Fanning radio show. Now, anyone around my age would have grown up listening to Dave’s iconic radio show. This was before the Internet. Dave is Ireland’s John Peel. He gave bands their big break. U2 have a lot to thank Dave Fanning for. Anyway, back to the story. The radio station were enquiring as to whether I would be interested in talking to Dave about my experience of being part of the Apple World Gallery. Of course, I would. I spoke with one of the researchers and as I write this it is only about an hour before I go on and talk to him on his Saturday morning show. I could never have imagined all of this.

Later on Friday, a good friend of mine living in San Francisco, Jon-David messaged to say that he had found my photograph on a poster in Van Ness train station in San Francisco. I wrote back telling him to get me as many shots as he could, but to make sure he got one of himself standing next to the poster. My wife has come up with the great idea of having a wall of framed photographs of the image from around the world. It will be great to have friends of mine in the images too. Thanks JD.

Jon-David in San Francisco

Jon-David in San Francisco

As it turns out, my brother is in New York this weekend and someone has told me that the image is in Port Authority train station. I really hope he can get a photograph of it with himself beside it. That would be super cool. Even more super cool, will be next weekend when I fly out to Milan to try to find for myself one of my billboards. My wife decided this was a too-good-to-miss opportunity. So hopefully I will get a photo of myself in front of a huge billboard of my own photograph. Unfortunately, we cannot get a babysitter for the kids. I really would love if she could come with me.

And where do I go from here? I had never expected all of this. Photography is my hobby. It is what I do for fun. The iPhone puting Phun – iPhunography. Maybe I can sell Apple that slogan! Where do I go from here? Back to enjoying photography – back to having fun. And who knows where that will lead to.

One of the most lovely things about all this experience has been being able to share it with family and friends. Their reaction has made it so special. I always try to make myself realise how fortunate I am; I have an amazing, loving family, and I if my kids grow up to have just one friend like I have, I know they will be OK in life. I need more than one hand to count the great friends I have. Thanks!

Thanks to all who have sent photos, congratulations and kind words. It means so much to me. Thanks to Jen Pollack Bianco who sent me that great panoramic shot above. Thanks Jen!

You can read Part 2 of this here and Part 3 here.

 

 

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2014: My favourite images

Each year, I like to take some time and look back at the photographs I posted to Flickr. (Here are links to previous years – DSLR &  iPhone) Being a nostalgic sort, this is something I enjoy very much. The thing that surprises me is how much I forget and how distant these scenes seem from now. The old saying – it seems like yesterday –  is one I have never been able to connect with. Yesterday seems an age away for me. Heading back and seeing what I posted twelve months ago seems like another life.

It has been a very good year. I got to see new countries: Taiwan and Denmark; and revisit places I love: Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, London and Berlin. Really cool. I like this little exercise of looking back, mainly because it is an exercise all about believing in the future. Twelve months ago none of these images had been realised. One of the reocurring feelings I get as a photographer is that I will never create another photograph worth anything. It is something experience each time I head out with the camera. But I know that I will. I know I will learn and get better. I will be here twelve months from now looking back at 2015 and getting excited about 2016.

In 2015, I posted 241 photographs on the DSLR account and 248 to my iPhone account, making a total of 489 images. That is a lot, by any standards, and to whittle it down to one image from each account for each month is not an easy task. But here we go.

We started the new year visiting a beach to the east of Cork. It was a wild and windy day and darkness was settling in almost as soon as we arrived. There is something about the sea which is so quietening. I could stare at it without any awareness of time passing. When I lived in Spain, in Badajoz a city whose river had dried out, I missed water so much. Coming from Cork, with our city centre an island that the River Lee surrounds and only being a stone’s throw away from the sea, I need water. I need to hear and smell it.

This image I have chosen as my favourite for January is one of my little girl, Sumi-Anna, staring out to sea. I stood behind her as she stared. Captivated by her, wondering what ran through her mind as she looked out. Wishing for her all she could ever wish for herself. As a parent, I find I take so many images of my kids with their backs to me, walking away, bravely, without me. Not waiting for me, not needing me to hold their hand. The first steps of independence. This is preparation of a sort. I know one day it will come that I will not be wanted. They will need to express their independence. For now, there is still some hand holding and I will hold tightly while I can.

January

January

And now on to my beloved iPhone. Fun! That is what the iPhone is all about. It puts the phun in iPhunography. Don’t get me wrong, I like photography with the DSLR too, but it is too heavy, too complicated and too  visible. The iPhone is light, fits my hands, does not require too many calculations and it is discreet. And did I say it was phun? It is!

A series of images that has got me a lot of attention is the one of people walking in the corridor where my office is. I have gotten some beautiful images there. Check this and that. The one I am choosing for January is a little different to the others in that the colour is brighter. I love the faint outline and the sense of motion.

January

January

Have I chosen your favourites. Check these links to see. iPhone – January  & DSLR – January

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