Tag Archives: learning

Monogram Asia Photo Lecture Tour

It was quite the honour to be invited to South-East Asia by Monogram Asia to present at the Royal Photographic Society of Thailand and also in Jakarta, Indonesia. In between, I had the opportunity to shoot intensively with some fantastic photographers on the streets of Singapore, Bangkok and Jakarta. All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten experience and one I am truly grateful for.

Presenting at the Royal Photographic Society of Thailand

Presenting at the Royal Photographic Society of Thailand

In preparing my lectures for the two events, I approached it in a chronological fashion, presenting images of mine through the years, both DSLR and iPhone, and framing them around that famous quote of Henri Cartier Bresson’s: Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”  and the widely-used: “The best camera you have is the one with you.”

And I disagreed with both!

The reason being is simple. Bresson’s quote is often used to present the idea that the more you practise the better you will become, and while it is wrong to disagree with that, it does imply a linear, incremental improvement. Coming from an education background, I believe the learning process is never as simple as this, and when looking at it through the lens of artistic creation it seems to suggest that we are incapable of creating something of artistic merit in our initial stages of expression. It brings to mind a couple of  Picasso’s quotes: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” and It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

One of my early street shots: Bangkok, 2005

One of my early street shots: Bangkok, 2005

These two quotes support my belief that very often we can instinctively create something without a technical awareness of how we achieved it. In preparing for my presentation I looked back at images I shot many years back. Seeing these now, with years’ of experience of shooting and viewing images, I realised that back then I was capable of creating photographs which, if I were to shoot today, I think I would be proud of.

It got me thinking further about his quote. 10,000 photographs. Just think about that for a moment. 10,000. Back in the days of film I had an SLR. It was rarely used. I would have shot a few rolls when on holidays and another few throughout a year. Do the math on this and you can see that in a given year, I would have shot about 8 rolls of film. That is 8 x 36, making a total of 288. Continuing with the calculations you can see to get to 10,000 probably would have taken me about 35 years. Or in reality – never.

12a.Hakodate 09

One of my early street shots: Hakodate, 2009

However, with digital,  things changed. There was the reduced cost and the ability to store so many images. This resulted in shooting more and more, and brings me to the next quote: The best camera you have is the one with you.”

This has to be one of the most-often used quotes about photography. I know I have I used it again and again. But it was not until I was mulling my presentation over that I realised that I did not agree with it. Why? Because it implies that we don’t always have a camera with us and if we do happen to have one – then that by default is the best camera.


Who doesn’t have a smartphone with them nowadays? And following that through it means we always have a camera with us. And that is the best thing – always having a camera with us. But do we realise the potential of that?

An early iPhone photograph: Cork, 2011

An early iPhone photograph: Cork, 2011

I found looking back over the years of my photography that it was from always having a camera with me, in the form of my iPhone, that led me from a situation of only having a camera in a drawer gathering dust, only taken out on special occasions, to one where I had a camera with me always. I went from a situation of perhaps (and perhaps is true here)  noticing a photo opportunity, to thinking – wow, that would make a nice photograph, to a situation where I saw these situations and I had the camera with me and I got that shot.


From cameras in a drawer to always having a camera with me and always trying to get that shot

It allowed me to develop my eye, to begin to think and to see photographically. It allowed me to have a camera with me in situations where before I would not have brought one: work, shopping, waiting rooms, in the car, out for a run, around my house and garden, etc. And as a result, I was training my eye, becoming more sensitive to composition, becoming more creative and moving ever-more rapidly to those 10,000 first photographs.

Sure, the quote can be interpreted in different ways. I fully agree with the notion it implies of practice. Shooting with the iPhone meant I was practising more than ever before, but the change was that I was now seeing photographically and committing myself to it. Before a photographic scene may have gotten my attention, but if I had not a camera with me, it would have been allowed to escape, uncaptured. And over time this meant a sensitivity to scenes like this became less and less pronounced and opportunities to train my eye, evolve my style would have been lost. 

In looking back and selecting images to represent my early photographic style it was good to see that elements of composition, style and storytelling were strongly evident in my early shooting, and to see how these evolved over the years was interesting.


Capturing storytelling images on the iPhone 4

The next part of my presentation was to show that there is not a separation in approach, style or quality between what I was doing in my DSLR work and my iPhone work. With the iPhone I had a camera that was perfect for street photography. It was small, discreet, fast and allowed me to get in close on the streets to capture moments and candid portraits that I probably would not have made without this camera. In turn, because of this new approach, I was becoming braver with the DSLR also and making more effort to get storytelling images on the DSLR.

Similarly, I wanted to show that the limitations of the iPhone: poor zoom, poor image stabilisation pushed me to be creative. I zoomed with my feet, and the poor image stabilization; well it led to this:


Being creative on the iPhone

And around the same time I was creating images like this on my DSLR.


DSLR photograph

I also spoke of the community aspect of the mobile photography movement in my presentation. I know that for me it was (and still is) the interaction with fellow photographers who were shooting and sharing on smartphones on a daily basis that really drove me on. Being part of communities like Mobiography, The App Whisperer and iPhoneographyCentral was hugely influential in my development as a photographer. Making the showcases on these sites was a really big thrill for me in the early days and I am so grateful to Andy, Joanne, Bob and Nicky for all they have done and continue to do for mobile photography.


The wonderful community for mobile photography: Mobiography, The App Whisperer, iPhoneographyCentral

Throughout the lecture, I presented images to showcase my photographic style and to demonstrate the qualities and advantages of the iPhone. As well as showing images from through the years, I also I selected some of my more well-known images.


London, 2015


Tokyo, 2015



Tokyo, 2015

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

Copenhagen, 2014

I rounded the presentation off with a demonstration of my favourite app for editing: Snapseed and showing the range of Olloclip lenses available for the iPhone that bring your shooting experience to another level.

There followed a questions and answers session and after the presentations in both Bangkok and Jakarta I was very pleased with the people who took the time to come up to thank me, to hear their stories, tell me they found the talks inspiring and motivating for them to experiment and shoot more with their smartphones. I really enjoyed the opportunity to get some wefies (a new word for me – more than one person is not a selfie no it is a we-fie – wefie) and to take pictures of us together.


Royal Photographic Society of Thailand Lecture


Jakarta Lecture

For me, the takeaway points from my lecture were having a smartphone camera with you allows you think and see photographically, heightening your ability to look for and create photographic opportunities; it encourages creativity and allows you to develop your own personal style. With the community of mobile photographers you have the opportunity to share and learn with fellow photographers who share your passion and with the many apps and accessories available you can take your photography to another level. But the main thing: The main thing is that it is PHUN – iPHUNography!

Overall, the opportunity to present my photography in the prestigious Royal Photographic Society of Thailand and in Veteran’s Cafe in Jakarta was a true honour and one I am humbled and grateful for.

Will be doing a few blog posts on shooting in the various locations on the blog in the coming weeks. I shot over 5k photographs on the iPhone, Nikon D7000 and the Fuji x100T. I had the most amazing experiences shooting with a great team of photographers. Stay tuned!

FullSizeRender 10

More to come…




Posted in iPhone, iPhone 6s, iPhone photography, Photo Talks, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

August 24 2014

With the slowest of jazz music playing – image number 3. 

Umbrellas. Why do they look so good in photographs? I imagine it is the shape and form. Or maybe they bring us back to our childhood and Mary Poppins. The magic of umbrellas. Open them up and off you fly up and away.

The third in this series was taken just outside the market place. I must have appeared a little strange to those who saw me. This strange foreigner with a shower cap over his camera taking photographs of people in the rain. Very often when you take someone’s photograph on the street, their first reaction is to look around them. They experience curiosity and surprise  as to why you would want to take their photograph. Some photographers will say that they avoid making eye contact with people after they shoot, that they just move on, but at times I like to make contact if I can. People usually respond well. In Korea, without a common language, showing the image you have taken of a person or group is fun. I hold the camera for them and let them see their shot. Invariably, with a little nervous laughter and smiles they will say something and I will respond with my very limited Korean. More laughter will ensue and then a little silent moment of us both looking at the image together. Then we exchange nods or bows and leave.


The slowest of jazz music playing [3]

The iPhone photograph is a fun one today. I was out for a walk, listening to a podcast when I saw this cool looking dude on a yellow moped driving up and down the street. He was having a little joyride for himself. Enjoying the sunshine and the cool breeze. Koreans love to wear hiking gear, bright, colourful hiking gear. This guy’s orange jacket was such a fine match for his yellow moped. He passed me. I was not ready for the shot. But at the bottom of the street he turned again and I stopped. Stopped opposite this bright yellow warehouse. And I waited. Camera ready. He drove past. I clicked and was lucky.

Not sure why he was zipping up and down the road on a yellow moped. Not sure why Koreans, who are normally so obedient, do not wear helmets when riding motorbikes or mopeds. Maybe this guy was rehearsing his getaway.

photo (13)

Getaway driver

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


There can only be one photograph I can choose from June, 2013, and that is this one of my little boy James doubting what his daddy tells him and needing to check for himself. When the long nights of summer come in, it gets harder to get little children to go to bed at their normal time. Outside it is still daytime, there is still sunshine and there is still lots to do and lots of time left for a little boy for playing and mischief. So, when his dad brings him upstairs and gets him into his pyjamas and tells him it is nighttime and that little boys must go to bed now, that little boy has to doubt it.

– But it is not dark, daddy!

– It is, James, it’s bedtime now. Come on.

– No! It’s not. It’s still daytime. Look.

Then he wriggles free and runs across the bed, stands on his little tipitoes on the radiator, pulls the blinds up and over his head and peers out and of course he is right.

– It is not nighttime! It is not, Daddy.

– But it is bedtime, James!

– Oooh!

I was delighted for two reasons. One, because he being a little rebel and I love that. Why should he not doubt what I am telling him? I hope he doubts me more and more. I hope he corrects me and helps me to learn as  time goes by. And secondly, I love it because it made for a great photo opportunity.

So, my little rebel, continue to check things for yourself. And that’s June!



Posted in A Flickr Year, iPhone, James, My own favourite photographs, photograph posts Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


I am enjoying this little review of the year of my iPhone photographs. It makes me realise what a great camera the iPhone is and what a hobby photography is. Photography heightens my awareness of my surroundings. I am more alert to colour, more sensitive to composition and always looking to try to see what can be seen and how to see it.

May was another good month for me out and about with my iPhone. I continued to post photographs from my trip to Germany and Luxembourg with some of them making Flickr’s Explore, which is always a nice, little buzz. The photograph which means a lot to me for many different reasons was taken at a function we were at with the two kids in Dublin. I was hovering in the background, not really mixing with the gathered people, just observing how things were developing, hoping to get a few good photographs, when I was taken by two cracks in the wall beside me. Two little, squiggly cracks one on the window sill and the other running underneath it. They seem to be reaching out to each other, but then as if they remember the cause of their conflict, they pull away, but yet, they are together, perhaps stuck in their stubbornness, but together. I gave the shot the title Conflict and it is one of my all time favourite images.



Posted in A Flickr Year, iPhone, My own favourite photographs, photograph posts Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

And some of my own favourite photographs of this week

Someone said to me “ya, it’s great that you post your favourite photographs from your two groups, but why don’t you post more of your own work on your blog?” Got me thinking. So here goes four of my own favourites from this week on Flickr. Two from my iPhone account and two from my real photograph account on Flickr.

The first one I chose is this one of railings on the seafront promenade down in Cobh. I like how the out-of-focus look; it  gives it an abstract feel. Converting it to black and white seemed the natural thing to do to highlight the lines and to heighten the contrast of the black on the white.

Requires willpower

Requires willpower

The next one from my real flickr account is this colourful blur shot taken in Cork city centre a few weeks back. Blur isolates and harmonises colour so beautifully at times.



Then on to the fauxtography, the iphoneography, the funography. Two images. The first is photographic luck. The large man approaching me on the street walked right into my picture frame and the look of intent and purpose on his face and the street lights flanking him; well I could not have had it composed better. Thank you, Mr. Stranger.

I have a plan

I have a plan

The next image I have chosen is another blur shot. Another type of shot that works out rarely – that blurred out bicycle passing. As I was getting out of the car, I saw the cyclist heading towards me. I stopped in my tracks, iPhone ready, waiting. Trying to look discreet, but failing. The cyclist passed and I clicked and here is the result. Oh, I was asked why I placed full stops in the middle of words. I like to disto.rt.



Thanks to all for visiting my accounts, leaving comments and most of all for inspiration. Have a ding dong Sunday.

Musical accompaniment

Posted in My own favourite photographs, photograph posts Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Little beads of dew sparkling in the sunlight

A sunny morning here in Cork yesterday. Looking out my window I saw the little beads of dew sparkling in the sunlight. It looked beautiful. I grabbed the camera, switched lense to the 55 – 200mm, and stretched out on our drive, lying on my stomach I got a few photographs.
These are straight out of the camera. For once, I made no Lightroom adjustments.
Of course, in my haste to get out (and also to get back in before neighbours saw me lying on the ground) and take the shots I forgot to change the settings on the camera. But still I think the result is nice.





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

It loses weight

Close my eyes; not tight shut, but closed.
I see it.
It loses weight, deflates.
Crisp, not sharp.
This gift.

Hours like this.


Soon I can let them open,
open to see,
it has passed.




[Berlin. Intercontinental Hotel. Photographs of photographs]

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