Tag Archives: Apple iPhone

Make or take a photo

Can I take your photo? Can I make your photo?

 

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

There is that debate in photography about whether you take or make a photo. I think far too much is made of it to be honest.

Basically the idea is that if you make a photograph you are inclusive of those being photographed in the process, and with them, you as the photographer adds something to the scene.

The idea of taking a photo is that you are extracting something; perhaps not inclusive of those being shot. I understand the ideas and agree with them.

But coming from a language-teaching background, I feel much is overlooked in this dynamic.

The first thing is collocation. What it that? That is commonly-occurring word partners. Example: take and photo most frequently go together. This means that the vast majority of people use this phrase when talking about photography. And from that the expression make a photo can be a little jarring for them when they hear it. It just does not sound natural. 

The second thing is requests like Can I take your photo? are so much more well received if accompanied by a smile and if you can display honesty when you make eye contact. Who cares if your phrasing is make or take a photo if you look like a prick who just wants to exploit someone.

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

This brings back to my winning photo in the recent iPhone Photography Awards and its subsequent media appearances all over the world as the press features the winning photographs of the competition. I was fortunate to have an interpreter with me that morning when I wanted to photograph the man’s hands and feet, but still I believe that despite the language barrier I could have connected and communicated with my subject through body language, smiles, a tilt and a nod of the head and eye contact.

But the curious thing is that with this win and the subsequent media attention I cannot help thinking about the guy whose hands I photographed.

Those hands tell a story; one of hard labour. The photograph also tells another story; one of privilege and good fortune. Of someone who has time and the means to travel and to get excited about the dirt encrusted on a labourer’s hands in a, to-him, exotic part of the world.

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

So did I make or take this portrait? If I made it, what did I add?

I recall when I showed him the photographs I had shot, he nodded, raised an eyebrow to me and nodded acknowledgement again. I thanked him and his co-workers with my limited Indonesian. My friend Elife gave the workers some cigarettes and we left.

I would love to be able to give something back to this man. I cannot imagine him being interested in a print of his hands. Vanity is not something I would associate with him. But what to do? The time has passed and I doubt I could ever locate him.

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

Kiss the future…

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

Japan

I was on a business trip to Japan last week and while I spent most of my time in Tokyo, I also travelled to a remote area called Shonai. When I was asked by others in Japan of where else I was visiting very few knew of this location.

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I took a flight from Tokyo’s Haneda airport – the city’s second airport. Now you would imagine that a place that is relatively unknown and, as I would later discover, only have a population of about 11,000 people would not be serviced by regular flights. But no, there are several flights each day and on the outward and return flight, both were full to capacity.

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Flying into Shonai, it was hard not to be impressed by the beauty of the snow-capped mountains. Having coming from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, I was struck by calm and beauty of the location as we made our way to the university, some 20 km from the airport.

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Before returning to the airport in the evening for my flight back to Tokyo, I had a little time to take a short walk to the river bank near the university. The air was fresh and crisp and the only sounds were those of birds chattering and the wind blowing in the trees. When I am away from home, I really try hard to make myself take in the reality of my surroundings. Time passes so quickly and often I find myself looking back and thinking: “Was I actually there?”

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An hour from landing in Tokyo, I was back in Shibuya, back on the crossing. Again, I stopped to make myself take it all in and I could not help but feel that I had dreamt being out in the wilds of nature that afternoon.

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

Goodbye to the iPhone 6: Hello to the iPhone 6S

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.

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

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

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.

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Berlin. 2014

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.

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Beautiful James

 

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.

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All lit up in Milan

 

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!

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London. April 2015

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?

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Porto

 

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.

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Shibuya Nights

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.

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Sligo. Summer 2015

 

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. 

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James (birthday number 5)

And then, my little girl – Sumi-Anna – on her eight birthday looking over the River Lee in Cork.

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Sumi-Anna (Birthday number 8)

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.

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Tomas Sinicki

 

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.

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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!

Liam

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.

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Kiss the future

 

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Mobile Journalism Conference, Dublin

The World's First Ever Mobile Journalism Conference

The World’s First Ever Mobile Journalism Conference

When my turn came to speak, the nerves had gone and were replaced with a feeling of ya, this is it and I’m going to enjoy it. The excitement really began when, along with the other six speakers who were part of the panel for smart phone photography, we got miked up. Ya, this was it. Here I was in the National Convention Centre in Dublin all miked up, all ready to go and talk about what I do on the stage of the world’s first ever Mobile Journalism Conference – Mojocon!

The Sn

The stage is set

We took to the stage and sat in the order we were to speak. I was to the left of Andy Butler who was first up and to the right of Michael Kistler, Dan Berman, Nicki Fitzgerald, Dan Rubin and Jack Hollingsworth. We were assigned ten minute slots which would be announced by the ringing of a bell. Our moderator, Patrick Hamilton-Walsh (what a pleasure it was to get to know Patrick), introduced us one by one. Andy was first up to talk about his website and e-magazine, MobiographyBack in October, 2014, when the organiser Glen Mulcahy contacted me about putting together a panel of people from the world of mobile photography, Andy was one of the first names that popped into my head. I have great admiration for the work he does in promoting and showcasing mobile photographers on his site and e-magazine. Andy gave a well-structured and informative presentation that was well received by the large audience. Then came my turn and up I went.

On stage

On stage

Earlier in the day, I had heard one of the speakers at another session say that for every minute of your presentation there needs to be an hour of preparation. When he said this, I immediately started to do my calculations and doubt began to creep in. Had I my ten hours of preparation done? But really the truth was that I could not get the mathematics of the calculation right, so I abandoned it. I was pretty much prepared. I had my slides, a little video clip of me showing how I do post-processing on the phone and I had written out an accompanying text, and for good measure had a few jokes thrown in. Earlier in the week, my wife had sat and listened to me rehearsing. Asking her how it was elicited – ‘it’s fine, but you need to slow down a little’. I am a fast talker, I suppose. Earlier in the afternoon with Michael Kistler and Andy Butler we had more rehearsals and again the advice back was “slow down!” Conscious of this, I tried to pace the delivery just that little bit more slowly. I think I managed it OK, but the thing that got me was that damn clicker for the slides. Coming towards the end of the presentation, I clicked twice and was unable to get back to the previous slide. I missed the chance to get my little joke in about selfies and to compound things, the bell rang and it was like being back in school. I wrapped things up there and then and only in later presentations did I realise that I still had more time and I should have just kept on regardless. However, all in all, it was fine. I got to tell the story of my mobile photography journey: from an iPhone 3g to billboards and posters all over the world.

As soon as I sat down, the reflection process began and has not stopped. If the conference goes ahead next year and I get invited back,  I have decided that I am going to bring my own bell and ring it at random intervals and allow it to soothe and relax me throughout.

My photo on a billboards in San Francisco and Chile

My photo on a billboards in San Francisco and Chile

Next up was Michael Kistler, a photographer based in Hong Kong, who gave a solid and well-structured presentation dealing with the many myths and false claims associated with mobile photography. He finished his presentation with a slideshow of his images. I really liked this style, because it showed a confidence to allow his photography to speak for itself, without need for voice over as the images were shown. I am a big fan of Michael’s work and was chuffed to see his presentation go so well.

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“Man! Stop phoning my camera! What are you phoning my camera for?” This was one of the many funny lines from the larger-than-life Daniel Berman, the founder of the Mobile Photography Awards (MPAs). Dan stole the show. He introduced himself to the audience as Ted Cruz, cracked a few jokes and had them in the palm of his hand from there on in. Dan showed some of the amazing mobile photography images that have won at the MPAs and spoke of how many of these have been sold for large amounts. When one of the slides did not show and he was left with a black screen, his showmanship shone when he told the audience that “this image is called black and I sold this to a gallery in San Francisco for $40,000.” Dan!

Daniel Berman

Daniel Berman

 

I did not envy Nicki being up after Dan, but she managed very well. Nicki runs the well-known iphoneographycentral.com with Bob Weil. She spoke of the fine work her site showcases and then walked the audience through the processing of one of her own images. Again, it was a very interesting to see how she creates her images and what apps she used to do this.

Nicki Fitzgerald

Nicki Fitzgerald

 

Dan Rubin is one of the biggest names on Instagram with more than 750,000 followers, but this really is a very small part of what Dan does, as he is a successful man in many fields. I was very impressed with Dan throughout the day. He was a calming and supporting influence on us novice presenters. It was great to watch Dan go through his paces. Clearly he is a polished presenter and he engaged effortlessly with the audience.

Dan Rubin

Dan Rubin

The final man on our panel of speakers was the guy known as Photo JackJack Hollingsworth. Jack is very well-known in photography circles. wefollow.com has Jack listed as the 11th most influential photographer on Twitter. Jack’s presentation was big on numbers and stats, which are always interesting to learn, but what I liked about Jack’s talk was the emphasis on how to become a better photographer. Simple, become a better person. Art from the heart. 

Jack Hollingsworth

Jack Hollingsworth

Coming off that stage, I was buzzing, or skipping with delight as Andy Butler would call it. What an exhilarating feeling to be involved in something like that. Walking off stage, I was met by people congratulating me, telling me how well I had done, how much they liked my work. Together with the other speakers, what had been a collegial, supportive dynamic before the session, was now one of exuberance and delight. It was over and now we could relax and enjoy ourselves. And that is what we did. The organisers had arranged a meal in a lovely Thai restaurant. The food, the wine, the conversation, the atmosphere, everything was just perfect. A night to remember!

Day two of the conference was about taking things to the street. Together with Michael Kistler and 15 other people we hit the streets surrounding the Convention Centre. Had I been asked about photo walks before I would have probably replied that I was not a fan of them. The idea of large groups of people in a herd moving together snapping in unison, would have been a right turn off for me. But the truth is I was completely wrong. Ya, we all followed the same route, but the diversity of images we got was incredible. How could so many different things have been observed?  It just goes to show how different everyone’s perspective really is. The location opposite the Convention Centre is a great one for a photo walk. There is some spectacular architecture around that area and plenty activity too. The weather held up, even though rain had been forecast. We used the hashtag #mojocononthestreet and curated images posted to Twitter and Instagram to organise a contest with donated prizes from iProlens. In hindsight, we should have a raffle for the prizes as it really was so difficult to choose among the entered images. That is the only regret I have about the conference.

Taking Mojon Con to the Streets

Taking Mojon Con to the Streets

Here is a little clip of an interview Richard Donelan, of Start Up TV Ireland, did with Michael Kistler and myself.

It was the most amazing experience. I have spoken at and attended many academic conferences, workshops and seminars through the years, in many countries, but none compared to this. There was a buzz about the place that was matched with the sense of excited anticipation the speakers and attendees shared. Here were the leading lights in the future of journalism, coming together from all over the world, wanting to learn, wanting to share, wanting to take the next step in the evolution of mobile journalism together. To be a part of this, as a visual storyteller, a photographer was a true privilege. It has invigorated and inspired me. I met so many nice people over the weekend. Thanks to Jack Caffrey, Claire Byrne, Maeve Heslin, Margaret Ward, Richard Donelan, Juan Muñoz Fernandéz, Phyllis Stephen, Niki Mustain, Ricky Fosheim, Shadi Rahimi, Sue Llewellyn, Alison Gow, Micheal Mac Suibhne, Harry Guinness, my fellow Man Utd fan – Patrick Hamilton-Walsh, and Sinead Cassidy who was always available before and during the event to ensure everything ran smooothy. It was a great pleasure to share this experience with you all. Hope our paths cross again.

I cannot end this piece without acknowledging the work that Glen Mulcahy has done in bringing all of this together. This was the first event of its kind any where in the world. As a fellow Irishman I am very proud of Glen. It took a lot of imagination, vision and persistence to get this event off the ground. That it was such a success is so pleasing. Kudos to you, Glen!

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The Great Glen Mulcahy

 

Here’s to MojoCon 2016! 

Kiss the future...

Kiss the future…

 

 

Posted in iPhone Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

February 7 2015

The music may stop but the dance continues.

The music may stop but the dance continues

The music may stop but the dance continues

Friends

Friends

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

January 29 2015

Two photographs from Tokyo today. Two black and white photos. People in motion.

 

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We are always here

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I was never there

 

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

January 17 2015

Things on my mind today:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Future

Things that should be on my mind today:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Now

The future will take care of itself.

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Daegu

Berlin

Berlin

Been two times to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. Both times the sun shone and it was a dry day. Both times, I noticed these beads of water on the walls of the structures. From where do they come? There was no rain for days. Tears?

Peace.

 

Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |