Tag Archives: Brendan Ó Sé workshops

How to make your photography fun

How can you say you love photography if it is 99% frustration? Do you even enjoy it?

These were some of the questions put to me after my last blog post. Not questions which got me thinking or made me feel anxious about how to answer.

No, I fully know why I continue to shoot and why I truly love everything to do with photography. But, how can you make photography fun? Well…

Toyko, 2017

SEE IT AS FUN

I do it because there are few things in life which satisfy my soul like photography. When I get in the zone, when I am on the street and lost in the moment, it electrifies me. I come alive and whatever worries or problems I may be carrying lighten in load.

It is exhilarating. It is life-affirming. It is fun. And fun is something I believe is so neglected in photography. I believe fun is something which is so neglected in adult life. Ask an adult what they do for fun and you will embarrass them. The word fun seems to become loaded when we pass from childhood. Fun seems like something illicit; something we ought to be ashamed of. Ask a child what they do for fun and watch how excited they get when they tell you. If you have a hobby, you should have that childlike excitement and passion for it. If not, abandon it.

Cork, 2015

YOU ARE MAKING MEMORIES

In August of last year, I gave a talk at at Zafigo X travel conference about photography and how it is all about moments, all about creating memories. Photographs are visual entries in your diary which become powerful in their capacity to catapult you back in time.

When I open up iPhoto (I use it to categorise events) and look through old images, it can launch me back to when and where I was and land me softly in the emotion of that moment. It is magical. It becomes something beautiful when I do it with my two kids. The dynamic of they discovering how they were when they were little babies or toddlers and my reminiscing of days that are now long gone is a gift that just gives and gives.

My little daughter and her grandfather

Sumi-Anna aged two reading Voltaire

YOU CREATE, YOU EXPRESS YOURSELF

I need to create. Why? Because it puts me on a path of discovery and understanding. Photography is about picking up a camera, pointing it at something or someone because your instinct tells you you need to capture that instant; to claim it and keep it for later examination. This in turn may lead to later learning and with some luck lead to subsequent experimentation. When I look back now at what I was shooting in and around 2012/2103, I see I was much more experimental. I shot much more blur; particularly on the iPhone. Why? Because of the limitations of the device. It performed poorly in low light, had no image stabilisation and working my way through this I discovered that these limitations allowed me to create beautiful blur imagery. Funny how these days I sometimes feel I have lost that freedom to create. 

Shot on iPhone 4. 2012

Photographic Punctuation

CONFORM TO ROUTINE

Conform to routine and routine will conform. I am a very ill-disciplined person. My life’s maxim is to not do today what you can do tomorrow, because tomorrow you might not need to do it. I leave things go forever and ever, discovering new excuses to put things off with graceful ease. I have wasted so much time. Photography changed things for me. Flickr found me wanting to share my photography on a regular basis. This meant I had to photograph on a regular basis. I began on Flickr in 2007. By 2009 I was posting photographs there on an almost daily basis. By 2012, I was posting to two accounts almost every day.

I committed to photography. I conformed to the routine and the routine conformed. This calms and soothes my soul. It gives me discipline. There is not a day goes by that I do not spend time taking/making photographs, looking at those of others, reading about photography, or hatching plans for my photography. It has been the most beautiful learning experience and has been so rewarding for me. I can say I have become a better person because of photography, because of the commitment to it. 

Tokyo, 2015

IT IS THE FRIENDSHIPS YOU MAKE

Want to become a better photographer? Here’s how. Spend time with other photographers. You have to. You need to spend time with like-minded people who get you. People who won’t find it strange or rude that you have the concentration powers of a puppy dog when you are walking down a street with them. Spend time with people who inspire you, people who push you to experiment, push you to achieve. People you can learn from. When I look back at the past few years, I see I have been so lucky in this respect. I have met some wonderfully creative people; wonderfully kind people. People whose work can stop me in my tracks and make me want to improve; to get to their level. And those few you might meet along the way who are insecure, jealous and negative. Cut them loose. There is truth in the saying to surround yourself with positive people. 

Copenhagen, 2014

IT IS THE STRANGERS YOU GET TO KNOW

But they are all just photographs of strangers. People you do not know. What is it about random people that interests you? This is what a friend asked me once about my photography. Ya, I don’t know them, but there is something in every one of them that I recognise. Something that resonates with me. I may not be able to immediately (or ever) say what exactly it is, but I photograph them because something attracts my attention to them. It can be a look, a gesture, a posture. It can be because they looked at me. It can be because I want to look at them. They are characters in my story. I can construct or deconstruct their reality to suit my perception; to build my interpretation. 

Waiting for hair to grow. Hanoi, 2012

And then there are those strangers who I get to know a little. Those who I stop and ask if I can take their photograph. Those who I continue to ask questions as I shoot them. Those who I tell little things about myself as I try to get them to reveal who they are. I love these connections. This opportunity to get to know people a little. It can be amazing what they tell you, and it can be beautiful what their portraits can reveal. 

We all want to be seen; we all want to be heard. Photography can allow this.  

Bangkok, 2017

IT GIVES VALIDATION TO WHAT YOU DO

I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a buzz from winning competitions or being selected for big global ad campaigns. The first time I won a competition (Mira Mobile Prize) I cried. It was a dream of mine to win a competition and truthfully I never believed I would. When it came, I was overwhelmed and felt so relieved. It was a form of validation. Any artistic pursuit is framed in doubt. We can never be sure if it is right; if it is worth anything. Competitions provide some validation. But you know, it is bullshit too. Photography should not be a competitive pursuit.

Winning photo: IPPA 2017

IT IS ALL ABOUT LEARNING

What is life about if it is not about learning? It never stops. There is nothing which enriches life more than learning. Granted I could spend my time learning more about the technical aspect of photography or learning about photography gear, but that does not excite me. What does excite me is that with every photograph I take, I learn. Learn about myself, learn about life. See mistakes and ya, get frustrated. But that frustration is positive. It is what drives me to learn and improve. 

London, 2015

STORIES; SO MANY STORIES

So many. Stories that are immediately evident and others that slowly reveal themselves. 

Delhi, 2016 (Nikon D7000)

IT DRIVES YOU ON

I have often talked about how viewing the photographs of my friends has inspired me and pushed me forward in wanting to improve in my own photography. It is so true. Seeing friends posts photos on a regular basis keeps me wanting to do the same. Seeing them shoot something new excites me to get back out and get shooting. I try to spend some time each week looking through photo books of established, renowned photographers. This is a different type of inspiration because these are not photographers I get to engage with. Their work is polished and presented as the finished article. Yet, there is so much to learn as you explore the connections in the photographs they showcase in a coherent and cohesive presentation in book form. 

Mumbai, 2016

YOU DISCOVER HOW TO SEE

What is photography about for me? It is trying to see what can be seen and how to see it.

As Dorothea Lange said: The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera. On every photo walk I have been on, one thing always strikes me. While we all walk the same route and can see the same things, how we observe and interpret them can be so different. It is what makes photography exciting, it is what gives it endless possibilities. When you are working with fractions of seconds when the shutter opens and closes, you are also working with slight shifts in centimetres, angles and aspects which can dramatically alter images.

Photography doesn’t allow me to see, it pushes me to see; to construct, deconstruct and create. It elevates beyond seeing. It allows me to begin to understand. To be part of my surroundings and to be an external observer of it too. 

Tokyo, 2017

So is it really 99% frustration?

Of course it is not. It can feel like that at times, for sure. But it definitely isn’t. It is what I do for fun. And whenever I experience that ongoing frustration, I keep coming back to why I photograph. And the answer is always the same. I do it for fun. I do it for me. 

Bali, 2017

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

Photography is 99% frustration

Photography is 99% frustration.

99% frustration. So often I arrive at this spot and ask myself why do I do this. I never seem to be satisfied with what I shoot. I am constantly looking at the work of others and thinking mine is pale and lacking in comparison. I scour my photos and rarely find what I thought I had shot, or what I want to capture. Flaws surface to overshadow and silence elements I had thought were strong.

And this is only after the act. The real frustration is out shooting.

Street photography has to got to be the most frustrating of photography genres. You can control nothing. You see it, it’s too late. You can’t stop people. You can’t ask them to move back, to make that gesture again, to not smile. You can’t will the gods to part those clouds to let that light shine in. You become manic, like a lunatic trying to locate where that noise is coming from in the dead of night. You shoot more. You move, thinking the action will be around the next corner. As you’re moving on you look back and see it happening – see that moment you had imagined appear in the very spot you have just left. But you have distanced yourself from it. You think, will I go back? You find yourself stopped in the middle of the footpath. Pedestrians frustrated as they navigate around you. You’re looking up the street, down the street, all the time muttering expletives under your breath – you hope – under your breath. You realise by people’s quizzical looks that these expletives are escaping and are audible. You are talking to yourself out loud. Next you realise the looks you’re getting from the people sidestepping to avoid you would actually make good shots. You raise the camera, but soon realise it is pointless. That moment has also passed you by. Oh, fuck it! What’s the point. You find a doorstep to sit on and bemoan your lot and then notice an interesting crack in the concrete which gets your attention and you delight in this for a moment.

Then images of photographs you have seen, photographs you admire and aspire to get start to populate your thoughts and the frustration returns. Why can’t you get shots like that? How can others find and see and construct those shots? Why does it seem so easy for them and so damn hard for you?

You stop to do the numbers and you realise that almost everything you shoot is shit. On a given day you can shoot hundreds of images. At best they are mediocre. The subsequent swipe through can be swift. The flaws reveal themselves loudly. It’s crazy to calculate but when you are dealing in what can be a 1/250 of a second and you notice that you missed the shot, and had you reacted more quickly you might have gotten it – what are you estimating? – another 1/250 of a second? Is it really that narrow? Really just fractions of a second? Add those fractions up and what do you get? Frustration, that’s what. Disappointment.

But you persevere. That old maxim – leave your photos marinate – comes to mind, and you begin to put faith, or hope, in it. Ya, better to leave them be and see what difference time can make. But you cannot resist it. They are burning and smouldering on your Camera Roll. You give in and begin to work on some images. Editing is the cure-all, no?  How about converting this shot to black and white? Perhaps then the flaws won’t be as loud. What if you add a filter? Maybe a crop, a flip? Never! No matter how bad things get don’t crop; never flip. Except for the times you do. Oh, how you regret those!

Ya, you know what is coming next. Sharing. Social media. Instagram! That beast that must be fed. You need that dopamine hit. And you need it daily. Don’t post for a few days and you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. But how to choose? You find yourself second guessing your followers; hoping that this shot you will post will be one they will flock to and shower you with faves and comments. You post it and you are like a parent watching a child walk to school for the first time alone. What if no-one likes it? You wait? Those dreaded moments just after you have posted. You’re thinking – will I delete it? I shouldn’t have posted that. What was I thinking? But then the likes trickle in and the reward system cycle calms you with a warm feeling of knowing that your photo may be OK. Maybe it can walk to school by itself. How long does this feeling last? Probably until you begin to scroll through the photos of others’. Then you land on the images of people you admire and you start to compare. Start to become self-critical.

The more I think of all that is associated with photography, the more I wonder why I actually do it. At every stage you are going to encounter frustration, and probably none more than the so-called photography help articles. You know the ones: Ten top tips to up your Instagram game. The top twenty mistakes you keep making and how to stop them. How to teach literally anyone to take amazing, high quality photos.

Well, here’s the thing. You read all these, particularly the Instagram ones. You may not be not much of a gear head, but you are like everyone else. You would love to have a K after the number of Instagram followers you have. How do you get it? What’s the secret? There is none. It is a lottery. OK, you guess if you are going to have selfies showing your killer cleavage, or put your cute cat in a stream of sunset shots you might find favour with the algorithm and be pushed up and out on Instagram’s Explore page. But if you are trying to showcase quality images on Instagram and build an audience, you better have patience. Want a killer Instagram tip? Here’s one. Write out all your tags. You know those ones you spend so damn long on for every Instagram post hoping the hub will feature your shot. Ya, those. Now go to Settings, Keyboard, Text Replacement, +, and paste in those tags to Phrase. Underneath in Shortcut write, for example, tagsbnw. Now the next time you are writing your tags for an Instagram post, just type tagsbnw and click space. Hey Presto! There are your 30 tags all there. Done in a second.

99% frustration. But what about that other 1%?

There is of course that remaining 1% when things fall into place; when you hit the sweet spot and slide into auto-pilot and you get that gift that gives and gives and gives. But that is a photography post for another day. For now, let’s acknowledge the frustration, indulge in the constant challenge. You know, like most things in life, if it was easy, if there was no torment or obstacle, you would probably lose interest. Don’t! It’s all about the next photo.

Kiss the future…

 

 

 

 

 

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

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….
Posted in Best of year, iPhone, iPhone photography, My own favourite photographs, photograph posts, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

February favourites

February and photography and finding favourites. Ya, why not?

Cyprus. I had never been before. My good buddy Dan Berman asked me to go to represent him and the Mobile Photography Awards in the opening of the exhibition in Limassol.

This was nice. Some sunshine, some good food and the chance to hit the streets of Limassol and make some frames.

I guess it was here that I began to change my approach to street photography. Not sure why or how, but I began to engage more with people on the street as I shot their portraits. Much like candid photography, people’s first reaction when you ask can you take their photo is one of curiosity. What is it that I can see about them that makes me want to photograph them? Self-consciousness smothers that initial curiosity and the task then is to engage with them to get them to relax. I tend to tell people about myself, revealing myself a little, as I shoot. I ask them questions. I am polite and respectful. I shoot a lot in these moments.

This guy here had no English. I smiled a lot. He stared at me. He smiled when I showed him the photo.

Limassol (shot on iPhone)

Truth is that in the month of February this year I did not shoot anything that was not on the iPhone. My real cameras lived an unloved life in a dark drawer. So, I need to go and choose a shot which I posted to Flickr in February, but one which was taken in Delhi the previous July. Is that allowed? Of course it is. This is my blog. I can do whatever I want. (insert smiley face)

This shot is in some way similar to the one above from Cyprus. Neither of the two characters in the frame could speak English and neither seemed too bothered that I wanted to photograph them. I like that the guy on the left posed for me and the guy on the right didn’t. The funny thing is that when I showed them the shot, the guy on the right reacted more excitedly than the other.

Delhi (Fuji X100T)

Delhi (Fuji X100T)

March coming up. Check out January here.

Posted in A Flickr Year, iPhone, iPhone photography, Street Photography, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Seoul Reflections

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

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

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

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

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

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

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

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

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

I like finding myself in these shots.

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

In some shots, I am easier to find.

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Next stop – DAEGU…

 

 

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

Hong Kong

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

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

Ferry to Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Ferry to Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

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

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

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

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

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

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

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

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

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

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

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

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

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

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

And more yellow.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

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

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

But you can blur it up a little.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

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

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Or these friendly guys.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

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

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

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

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

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

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

See you next year, Hong Kong!

Next up Seoul!

 

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

Flickr

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

First photograph posted to Flickr

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

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

Flickr Front Page

Flickr Front Page

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

Blur

Or this:

Tokyo 2012

Or this:

Drudgery (Tokyo, 2012)

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

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

Vietnam: 2012

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

Tokyo, 2012

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

The last note heard

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

The Weight of Other People

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hong Kong (Fuji x100T)

Bali

 

 

 

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

Mira Mobile Prize Competition

Mira Mobile Prize Competition. What is that about?

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

How many shots can you enter? 3

When is the deadline? September 12th.

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

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

Get your entries in. It is free!

Click here to enter. 

Mira Mobile Prize

 

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

Rebel Street Photography

Met up with the good folk of Cork’s Rebel Street Photography group on Saturday to give a street photography workshop to their members.

In preparing for the workshop it was fun to look back through images I had made here in Cork. Made me think I need to get out more and shoot in my hometown.

CORK

CORK

I have given talks and workshops in various parts of the world and shared the stage with some big lights in street photography, but for some reason I was very nervous for this workshop. Maybe because it was in my own backyard. But like most things in life that you get worked up about, it never turns out to be as bad as you have made out in your head. 

Hitting the streets with Cork’s Rebel Street Photography group

I’ve been working on putting together a series of portraits shot on iPhone. This has led to a change in approach for me. Instead of looking for candid moments, I am now enjoying engaging with people, getting to know them a little as I make their portraits.

Linda and her dog Bud

A man from Tyrone

Kofi from Ghana

Andre from Italy

Cork

Cork

Nothing but the truth in this, boy

The People’s Paper

Bam Artist Artiste

Bam Artist Artiste

Bam Artist Artiste

You can learn more about Bam Artist Artiste here. 

Big thanks again to all in the Rebel Street Photography group, particularly Stela who was absolutely brilliant in making the workshop happen!

Rebel Street Photography Group

Kiss the future…

 

Posted in iPhone, iPhone photography, Street Photography, Workshops Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Mobile Photography Workshop in Hong Kong

I am very excited to announce a Mobile Photography Workshop in Hong Kong in conjunction with the Maritime Museum on Saturday, August 26th from 1 to 5 p.m. You can register for it here.

Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities and I have loved shooting there over the years.

Mobile Photography Workshop – Maritime Museum – Hong Kong – August, 26th

Hong Kong street life is electric, be it during the day or at night. Such a wonderfully vibrant location. Here are a selection of my favourite photographs from Hong Kong over the years.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

You can register for it here.

Look forward to seeing you on the 26th August.

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