Tag Archives: Mira Mobile Prize

2015 – Everything will happen. Believe – achieve!

On January 1, 2015, I posted this to Facebook: Everything will happen. Believe – achieve! When writing that I could never have imagined the magical experience that was about to begin for me. Looking back at 2015 through the lens of the iPhone there are so many highlights and accolades: being part of Apple’s incredible Shot on iPhone 6 global campaign, speaking at the world’s first ever mobile journalism conference – MojoCon in Dublin last March, winning many awards for my iPhone photography, being invited to London to be interviewed by the great Dan Rubin as part of Apple’s Meet the iPhone Photographer, visiting Tokyo, Porto, Amsterdam, Vilnius, Milan and London, giving iPhone photography workshops in galleries in Cork and Dublin. But throughout it all, I knew the thing that would stay with me was the experience of sharing all this with my family and my friends and also the making of new friends on the way. I realised how fortunate I am, not just in receiving these accolades and experiences, but also to see the joy it brings those who love me. Seeing the wonder in my mother’s face as she saw photos of my Shot on iPhone 6 photo on billboards around the world, hearing my little girl scream with glee when she saw me interviewed on TV, and

I like this little activity I have each year when I look back and choose my favourite 12 images I posted to Flickr throughout the year. It is an interesting document to see my photographic journey over the previous 12 months and gives me an idea of where I am heading to.

OK, I am going to be honest, looking at the iPhone shots I posted to Flickr in January, none of them stand out for me. This allows me to choose 2 from another month later in the year.

February was a sad month for me. My good friend Liam passed away. A day has not passed that he has not entered my thoughts. This photograph of the sun shining through a leafless tree is for him.



In March, everything changed. My photograph went up on huge billboards all around the world and I absolutely loved it. For about two weeks, I could not sleep. The excitement of it all was too much. I was doing newspaper and radio interviews and my stats on all social media spiked. I was lucky to be able to get to Milan with my wife to see the billboards for ourselves. This photograph tells the story of how exuberantly delighted I was to see my photo on a billboard.



April and I was in Tokyo. It rained non-stop for 3 of the 4 days I was there. Only having 4 days, I intended to make the most of it. This photograph, shot in Shibuya, was taken only a short few hours before my early morning departure flight. It would go on to win 3 competitions in 2015. You can read more about how I got this shot here.



April was a great month. I also got to go to London for Apple’s Meet the iPhone Photographer. To be honest, this was my personal highlight of the year. Everything about this experience (read my blog post about it here) was wonderful. I got up early on the morning of the event and was blessed with the fine weather. I got out early to shoot and on that morning, I got so many good shots. This one here, that I posted to Flickr in May, is one of my favourites of the year. I stood on the road as I waited for a passerby to enter my frame. The graphic shadowed patterns of Blackfriar’s Bridge were so serendipitously complemented by the black and white runners of the woman who strode past. Click!



I am attracted to light and lines. This shot, posted in June, is from a wonderful photo walk at Mojocon in Dublin in March stopped me in my tracks. I love the simplicity of it.



July was spent in Ireland. We had a family holiday in Sligo. Mullaghmore is one of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches. I was walking on the sand dunes behind the beach when I saw my little girl running towards her mother and brother. I can still hear their laughter.



For August, I am cheating a little and choosing two photos. The first is one is of my little girl on her 8th birthday and the other is from the trip to London. I could not leave either of these photos out.




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In September, I posted another of my favourite shots of the year. This is one that I ran across traffic to get to in Amsterdam. I saw this guy sitting on a bus stuck in evening traffic. He had this most intense glare. This shot is part of an ongoing series.



It seemed to start to rain in October  and has not stopped yet. I was sitting in the car waiting for my wife to get back from the supermarket when I saw this guy leave and battle to hoist his umbrella. I had to snap!



In JuneI got to travel to Porto – my prize for winning the Mira Mobile Prize. I was met by Manuela and Joao, the organisers of the competition. Their kindness and hospitality will stay with me for a long time. Porto is a wonderful city. It has it all. This photograph, posted to Flickr in November,  was taken just outside Porto’s iconic Majestic Cafe. I got as close as I could get to get this portrait of this wonderful Porto gentleman. You can read my travel article published by Ireland’s state broadcaster – RTE – here.



In December, I upgraded from my beloved iPhone 6 to the new iPhone 6s. Late to the party, but still hoping to get to dance, I have been battling the elements and getting out shooting. This photograph shot last Monday (29.12.15) was taken in a hurry. We stopped at Ladies View in Kerry to look down on the Gap of Dunloe. It was wild. Storm Frank had landed and the wind and the rain were ferocious. My friend Richard stood taking in the vista. I stopped behind, framed the shot and snapped. We spent another a minute or so there before rushing back to the car.



And that is it! Bringing to close what was the most wonderful year ever in my photographic journey. Thanks to all whose inspiration, love and kindness drives me on.

Here’s to 2016! Everything will happen. Believe – achieve!

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Having won the Mira Mobile Prize I was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Porto as the prize. I had been to Portugal before, but never to Portugal’s second city of Porto. I knew little about the city, except for its eponymous drink, its famous football team and it being on the Atlantic coast. Prior to leaving, I researched it a little and learned why this city always makes the top ten list of European cities to visit.

I got a short Ryanair flight from Dublin, leaving the wind and rain behind for the blue skies of sunny Porto.

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Rainy Ireland

There to meet me were Manuela, the organizer of the Mira Mobile Prize, and her husband Joao. (They snapped on arrival. Of course, with an iPhone.)


Arriving in Porto (photo by Manuela Manos Monteiro)

So what is Porto like?

Getting around

Porto is hilly and the old, cobbled streets can be hard on the feet, but it is compact and easily navigated. Being hilly, its landmarks are easily identifiable as you wander around.

A three-day tourist bus pass costs €15 and this allows you to use all local buses, metros and trains. You can buy this in most bus or train stations.

The best way to get your bearings and see the sights is to hop on one of the city’s many bus tours. The red bus tour costs €13 and is well worth it. You can choose your departure point from any of the bus stops and the entire tour, without hopping off, takes just over two hours. Highlights are: Santo Ildefonso church, Dos Clerigos Tower (for wonderful 36o degree views of the city), the Atlantic coast, the Riberia area, the Port caves in Gaia, that wonderful bookshop whose staircase was used in the Harry Potter films – Livraria Lello, and if you are a football fan, then you have to visit Porto’s Estadio Do Dragao.

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Santo Ildefonso church as seen from the bus tour

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The Atlantic Coast

Porto Colours

Porto Colours in Riberia


Food in Porto is good and very reasonably priced. A set lunch menu in many of the town’s restaurants will cost no more than €7 or €8 for a three-course meal including drinks. Tripe is a favourite with the locals and while it may not be to my taste, I did try another of their local dishes, Francesinha, a large triple decker sandwich that comes with a spicy tomato sauce and a plentiful supply of chips. Eating in Cafe Capri in the historic Campanha district, I had this meal, including wine, for €6.

If you are looking for somewhere for dinner with a view of the river and the Dom Luis bridge, Bacalhau Restaurant on Muro dos Bacalhoeiros in Riberia is the place to head to. Perched high above the river the terrace allows the most-wonderful of views over the river and onto the Dom Luis bridge. Being in Portugal, I had to try some cod and to wash it down some local ‘green’ wine. This meal at €11 for a cod dish and €4 for a glass of wine was pricey for Porto. But together with the food, the view, the atmosphere and the free wifi it all made for a pleasant evening.


View from Bacalhau Restaurant looking over the River Douro

A visit to Porto would not be complete without a visit to its most famous café: Café Majestic. You step back in time as you enter and experience the wonderful belle-epoque ambience. At €3 for an espresso it might be expensive, but the attention to detail is impressive and the service is top class.


An espresso at Café Majestic on Rua de Santa Catarina

On the go, you can pop in for a quick coffee, beer or water in any of the city’s bars and very often you will get change back from a euro for a drink. It really is good value.


Porto is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage city and wandering among the steep, narrow lanes and alleyways that climb their way up to the town centre it is easy to imagine what life must have been like in the times when Porto was one of the world’s greatest ports sending out explorers like Vasco da Gama and welcoming their treasure-laden ships back to shore. The old houses may appear dilapidated, but this is what gives them their charm. Looking up you can spot old women resting on the railings of balconies watching their washing sway in the breeze. The smell of food lingers in the lanes and the colours of the laundry hanging on washing lines looks striking against the brilliant blue of the sky.

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Porto colours

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Porto Colours

Eventually, you escape this maze of alleyways to enter the grand boulevard of Alliados that leads up to the town’s city hall and beyond to the main shopping areas around Rua de Santa Catarina, where you can find the usual range of well-known stores mixed in with Portuguese ones.

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The City Hall in Avenida Dos Aliados


Porto is a cities of bridges crossing the River Douro. The most of famous of these is the huge steel two-storied structure, Dom Luis, which connects new town of Gaia and the old town of Porto. It has similarities in style to the Eiffel Tower and it is no surprise to learn that Gustav Eiffel was the engineer.

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Dom Luis Bridge over the River Douro

There are different ways to get up there but the most fun is to take the cable car which you can get on the Gaia side of town. It costs €5 for a single or €8 for a return. Arriving on the top of the bridge, you are afforded a magnificent panoramic view of the city, but you must have a good head for heights. At night, it is lit up. Try to get here around dusk to see the sun set. It is truly beautiful.

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Teleferico de Gaia (Cable car to the top of the Dom Luis Bridge)

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View from Dom Luis Bridge as the sun sets over the River Douro



Taking the number 500 bus from just opposite the Sao Bento Station will bring you out to Atlantic coast. I got off on Avenido Do Brasil and the first sight to greet me was that of a man sitting in a meditative pose as the wild waves crashed against the rocks and shot up a spray that left him soaked. Instinctively, I got the iPhone out to capture the moment. Living in Ireland, we are used to the Atlantic but I have never seen it so wild. Apparently, this not uncommon in Porto. I ventured into a cafe bar, took a seat on the terrace and had a beer while I watched the waves crash against the rocks below.

Man at beach

The wild Atlantic and a brave man

The Wild Atlantic

After the beer, I continued to walk along Avenido Do Brasil. In the distance, I saw the red and white of lighthouse at the end of a pier and what appeared to be a lone fisherman casting his rod out to sea as around him the waves crashed. Not believing my eyes, but knowing this was a photo opportunity I quickened my pace to get out there. Ignoring the flashing red lights of perigro (danger) warnings, I ventured out as far as I felt was safe and there he was, perched on the side of the pier nonchalantly fishing. Fearing for my safety, I stayed until I could get him in the action of casting and then scarpered. I do hope his catch for the day was worth the risk.

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Fisherman at Felgueiras Lighthouse


If you are looking for art, Porto is a great place. Your first stop has to be at the Espacio Mira and Mira Forum art galleries in Campanha. This is the gallery which organised the international mobile photography competition.


Manuela and Joao Matos Monteiro (Gallery owners) and myself at the Mira Forum, Porto

A little outside town, but worth the trek is Serralves Museum which has wonderful architecture, installations and gardens.

All in all

Like the many countries, the second city is the most charming and Porto is no exception. My hosts, Manuela and Joao were wonderful ambassadors for their city. I loved my short time in their town and while I thoroughly enjoyed the sights and all the city had to offer, it is the warmth and kindness of its people that would encourage me to make a return trip; this time not alone, but with my family.

Até a próxima vez!

Getting there 

Ryanair flies there twice a week from Dublin: Mondays and Fridays, with flights taking just over two hours.

Where to stay

I did not need to look for accommodation in Porto as I was staying in the apartment attached to the gallery.

However, I would always recommend accommodation on Air BnB. Also, check out Tripadvisor’s advice on Porto hotels.

When to go

Porto has a wonderful climate.  The weather while I was there was a wonderful 23 – 25 degrees. It does get hot in summer, particularly in August, but each season would bring its own charm to this wonderful Portuguese city.


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June 14 2015

Time is passing so quickly and I am realizing I have not been posting to Flickr with any regularity. The days of posting two shots every day seem so far gone, but I have just been too busy lately. My plan is to get back into serious Flickring from next month. I have photographs from Milan, Amsterdam, Tokyo, London and Porto to share.

This week I will try to post more from Porto. I had a fabulous time and am almost finished my blog post about my experience there. For today, I am posting two images: One with the Fuji taken in the back alleys of Riberia. This labyrinth-like cluster of lanes and alleyways is a wonderful place to explore. Looking up you will find old ladies resting on the railings of their balconies, while below them their freshly-washed laundry dries in the sliver of sunshine that finds its ways down these narrow lanes.


Porto: June, 2015


I found myself using the iPhone much more while in Porto. There is something so perfect about this camera for me. You cannot be in Porto and not notice the love of colour the locals have.

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Porto: June, 2015

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April 17 2015

A quick post today. Need to find time to document all that has happened in the past week. Am truly honoured to have won the Mira Mobile Photography prize. Click through to see details.

Posting two shots today from Tokyo. One taken in Shibuya and one in Akihabara. This one taken in Shibuya was shot through a transparent 500 yen umbrella. The four days I was in Tokyo I constant rain for three of them. It does allow for beautiful colour reflections.

Shibuya, Tokyo

Shibuya, Tokyo

The iPhone shot comes from Akihabara – also known as Electric town as it is full of electronic shops which attract huge numbers of tourists. I saw this bus approach with a wonderful, circular window at the rear of the bus which framed this elegant lady reading a newspaper. I had to get a shot of it. I took my life into my own hands and hopped over the barrier and into the traffic. I had to get as close as possible to get a good shot. I think the poor woman was shocked to see this crazy foreigner approaching her. I got a few shots. In the end we shared a smile and a bow. The bus went on and I was stuck in between two lanes of traffic. All just to get that shot.



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