The Apple iPhone 6 has been such a special camera for me and until this week I was reluctant to trade up for a new iPhone 6s. But eventually I decided it was time and this week I went and bought myself a brand new camera – I mean iPhone. Well, you know what I mean.
I have shot thousands of photographs with the iPhone 6; easily my all-time favourite camera. Even if I say so myself, I believe I have got a lot of good photographs with it in the 14 months that I have had it. It has been with me every day and I have used it in Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Sligo, London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vilnius, Berlin, Porto, Milan and Tokyo. How fortunate I have been to get to travel to those locations.
In writing this blog post I have looked back at the images I shot with the iPhone 6 and there are so many good memories which spring from the shots. No surprise then that the first image is my most well-known image: that Apple shot from Copenhagen taken back in October, 2014. You know the funny thing about this photograph is that it was a shot I was never happy with. In the post-processing stage, I struggled a lot with the tones in the centre of the image. Photography can be a little like home decoration – you do up one area and what does it do? It shows up how in need of redecoration another area is. In the end, I left the image as it was in my camera roll and was not even going to post it to Flickr (I never posted it to Instagram at all until it was on billboards around the world). When I did post it with a conversion to black and white, it got a great response and caught the eye of Apple’s representatives. The rest is history as they say.
Berlin was next on my travels. It is a city I have been to three times; always in December. I really would love to see it summer time. When I was there I shot a lot with one of my favourite apps for iPhone photography – 1-hour photo. Using this app, you can only shoot in black and white and the novelty aspect of it is great fun. Like the old days with film, your shots are processed in an hour. The results I love. The black and white tones are really beautiful.
The shot I selected for this blog piece is one I shot on a cold night in Berlin, just off Alexandrs Platz station. Reflections are something I use a lot in my photography. I was struck by the melancholic look on this woman’s face as she waited for the bus to drive off. I stood back a little and did not focus the camera to achieve the layered effect.
In a recent interview I did with 121 clicks I was asked about what photographic experiences I would like to relive. I thought about it for a while; thought about the places I have been, the shots I’ve made and then I realised that the most precious times are the ones spent with family and friends. The shots of strangers mean little, but those of loved ones mean so much.
One of my all time favourite photographs is this one taken in the Glucksman Gallery in Cork of my little boy, James. I often bring the kids to this gallery and they love to run around and from time to time, the art does get their attention – but never for long. This one here shows the split second (and that is all it was) when James’ attention was taken by the photographs on the wall. The shot I got after it shows how quickly his attention moves to the next thing.
In March, everything changed. My fifteen minutes of fame arrived and I loved it – who wouldn’t? My photograph of that crazy park in Copenhagen went up on billboards and posters all around the world. This was simply magical. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such a thing. The excitement I experienced in getting emails and tweets from people who found my image in the wild was just wonderful and this is the thing that will stay with me long after the campaign.
I was fortunate to get to see the shot on billboards in Milan, with my wife, and in Tokyo also. It is hard to put into words the sensation of seeing a photograph I took on a small, little camera up on a huge billboard where literally thousands of people can see it. One of the most beautiful moments of the Shot on iPhone 6 experience was sitting by the window with my wife in a cafe in Milan and looking out at my photo all lit up on a big billboard. It was a surreal and wonderful sensation.
In April, two great things happened: I won my first competition – Mira Mobile Prize and I was invited to London to be interviewed by the great Dan Rubin for Apple’s Meet the iPhone Photographer in their Regent Street Apple Store. Looking back at the year I have had, there have been many accolades and prizes, but this experience was the one I enjoyed most. I was nervous on the day, but Dan made it all so easy for me. I really enjoyed the day we spent together and the hour on stage talking about my photographic journey.
When I was in London, I had the chance to get out and shoot with the iPhone and some of the images I got while there I love. This one has to be one of my all-time favourite photos. I was on Blackfriar’s bridge on a gloriously sunny spring morning. The sun cast a shadowed pattern of the bridge on to the footpath. I waited until someone passed to get a human element and I was lucky. This lady wearing black and white runners walked into my frame. Click!
Winning the Mira Mobile Prize was super special. I got the news late at night in Tokyo. It is true what they say about first times being special. Anyone who enters a competition dreams of winning it. Why else enter? When I learned I had won I cried tears of joy. The next day, Irish media picked up on the story and I made headlines news on RTE (Irish state broadcaster). It probably was a quiet news day, but still!
My prize for winning the Mira was an all-expenses trip to Porto. I travelled out there in June (read about it here) and had a wonderful 5 days there. What a great town it is. I spent my time wandering the streets shooting as I went. My favourite Shot on iPhone 6 image from there is this one of this guy sitting on the beach as the waves crashed on the rocks right in front of him. I stumbled upon this guy and was so surprised to see him there. What was he doing?
In June, I also got news that this photograph (you can read more about the background to it here) won two competitions. The first was Mediteraneo Foto Festival and the second was the Florence International Photography Awards. The same image would later go on to win first place in the Stark Awards. I was particularly pleased with that one because it was not a mobile-only competition.
In July, we went on a family holiday to the north-west of Ireland, to Sligo. Now, Irish summers are usually disappointing. We crave sunshine but rarely get it. This summer was no different, but we did get to see some of the most beautiful scenery in Ireland, and for anyone that has not seen Belbulben, you have to! It is the most impressive mountain in Ireland. You can see it here smothered in the greyest of Irish summer clouds.
My memories of my childhood are happy ones. I recall walking to mass with my mother, hand in hand, and I would be incessantly talking and asking questions. My favourite question to her was: “When will it be my birthday?” Funny how we as kids love our birthdays so much and want them to come sooner and sooner and then as we get older we want them to not to come so damn fast. Each year, I have a little tradition with my two kids. We get the bus in town and sit on the top deck at the very front. Then we have some treats in a cafe and head to the bookshop to get some books. I love it and so far they do too. Not sure how long it will last for, but I do hope it will be a happy memory for them.
Here are two photos of them on their birthdays. First, my little boy, James, and myself on his fifth birthday.
And then, my little girl – Sumi-Anna – on her eight birthday looking over the River Lee in Cork.
In October, I travelled to Vilnius to shoot the gig of Tomas Sinicki. What a great experience that was. I used my three cameras for it, but the one I enjoyed most was the iPhone. It was particularly good fun to see the reaction of the photo journalists when I switched from the Nikon to the iPhone to get my shots. Tomas is a class act. His mix of punk, rock and folk music really brought me back to my younger days.
In November, I had mobile workshops in the Lewis Glucksman Gallery , Cork and in the Gallery of Photography in Dublin. What a great experience it is to be able to share my passion for photography with like-minded people. I love the photo walks we go on when we are out and about. This shot here was taken on the doorstep of the Glucksman Gallery and forms part of an ongoing series of images I have titled – Trying to see the good in people.
This year had its sad moments too. In February, I lost one of my best friends, Liam, to cancer. There has not been a day pass since that I have not thought of him. The one regret I have about this year is that he was not there with me to share it. He would have loved it. I took this photograph on a morning walk. The sun hitting the tree and casting its shadow struck me. Miss you, Liam!
And on it goes…
Am excited to think about the photographs I will get with this new iPhone. Have not had much time to get out shooting with it; possibly will do so over the Christmas break. Here is a shot I got yesterday.