Tag Archives: photography

Limited print sale

I am doing a once-off limited edition print of the following photographs. All prints are signed, numbered and certified. Printed professionally using the best museum quality archival papers and inks.

Shipping worldwide.

These images have not been offered before. If interested, please contact me.

Photographic Punctuation

Perpetual Endeavour

The Unbeckoned

 

The pip-pop life span of worries

My Tokyo

My Tokyo

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

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Favourite 2017 Shot on iPhone Photographs

OK – I have tried to start this so many times in the recent weeks and each time I tell myself I will get it done tomorrow, knowing full well that I will wait until the last moment and then rush it through. But hey – once I get it done, ya?

Choosing my 12 favourite photos was so easy before. All I needed to do was head over to Flickr and see what photos I posted in each month of the year and from that choose a favourite shot. Not so anymore. This year I posted virtually nothing to Flickr until September, so for the first time ever this end-of-year-review is being done via Instagram. Here are my Instagram stats for the year: I posted 272 photos to my main account and 186 photos to my second account (the one I keep for shots without people in them). That is a lot of images, but then I travelled and shot a lot in 2017.

I could do the easy thing and allow an algorithm decide what my best 9 photos were, but you know, they weren’t. You can see them if you wish here and here. I prefer to spend some time with the images, recall where I was, what I was doing and how it felt. That is why we create images, no? To make memories. So here are my 12 favourite shot on iPhone photographs posted to my main Instagram account in 2017.

So, January took me to Iceland for the first time. Stumbled across this artist’s house on the seafront. The sun was setting and it was freezing.

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

February and I was on my way to Cyprus to open the exhibition for the Mobile Photography Awards in Limassol. 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.

February: Limassol (shot on iPhone)

March was a month at home and not a lot of shooting, bar the Holi Festival in my university, so I was posting shots from previous trips. This one of a bus driver in Seoul I love. I remember knowing that I would stop to shoot it when I was waiting for the green man to appear. I just love shooting into glass and the layered distortion the reflections create.

March: Seoul

April was a full on month for me. I was in Korea and Japan with work and then home for a few days before heading back out to Thailand for the most amazing experience of Monogram Asia’s first 8 x 8 Street Photography Conference. Another highlight of April was the being out on the streets of Cork for the 24-Hour Project with great people. Choosing an image I shot in the month of April is damn hard, but it is not so hard to choose one I posted in that month. Photography is all about memories and connections. My favourite for April is this one shot on the 24-hour Project in late night Cork. May not be my best photo in April, but it is the one which makes me think of the absolute craic I had with Tim, Dee, Judie and Jonathon. 

April: Cork. 24-hour project

And on to May and really there can only be one shot for May. I have written quite a bit about how I began to shoot more asked-for-portraits and how much I began to enjoy it. This one was shot in Bangkok on a very hot morning on a photo walk with Sheldon Serkin and Renzo Grande. Here’s the thing. Once I got the shot I knew it was a good one, but I did not know whether it was better in the original colour or to convert it to black and white. Shel and Renzo thought it was a no-brainer – black and white all the way. I still have a thing for it in colour. What do you think?

May: Bangkok

June: In April in Seoul I stayed in Myeondong. It is probably the busiest shopping district in Seoul and with that comes much activity; perfect for street shooting. My maxim about photography is: Trying to see what can be seen and how to see it. This shot is an example of this. The bright neon lights, the taxis, the taxi drivers. Bringing them all into one frame was not easy. Shooting it on an iPhone at night even more difficult, but I love the result.

June: Seoul

July brought me to back on my travels, back to Hong Kong and then on to Korea again. I shot a lot in this time, but did not post in July. I did share this photo on Instagram though – a photo from Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. A photo which is part of my Rehearsing for a date series of images of people alone in locations where you might commonly find dating couples.

July: Tokyo

August and I am on the beach in Busan stopping people asking if I can take their photo (and they not getting upset that I did not ask if I could make their portrait). Honestly, this is something I felt I would never have been comfortable doing, but now I cannot imagine not doing it. There is something so wonderful about it. I made some really great connections this year shooting portraits. This guy was great fun. He took delight in telling me he knew Conor Mcgregor when I told him I was Irish. Honestly? Conor McGregor?

August: Busan

In Bali, I had Bali’s best motorcyclist as my guide, but I sadly proved to be Bali’s worst motorcycle passenger in this time. I loved Bali. Big thanks to my buddy Gathoe for showing me around Bali on his bike and for bringing me to the kite festival on that first day I was there. I skipped off the beaten bath a little to find these kids playing football.

September: Bali

I tend not to post photos of my kids. This is just a personal thing for me. Probably am too protective of their privacy. But this is one of my little boy that I love. No great timing here to get the decisive moment; no just finger kept on the shutter to shoot in burst mode and then to later select that decisive moment. My little HCB shot.

October: James

November is a bit hard for me. I am torn between this, this and this, but have decided to choose this one in the end. The edited image is a little distant from the original, but I knew that in taking it I would be able to go on many creative routes with the photo.

November: Seoul

And this brings us to the end of a year of shot on iPhone photographs. Life is difficult when there is choice and truly I could have gone in so many different directions with these selections. In the end I opted for all colour, could just have easily gone all black and white as I love many of the photos I shot in black and white this year, particularly when shooting with Provoke.

So, here is it – the final image to make up my 12 favourite shot on iPhone photographs from 2017. A photograph shot in Dublin, and one which is part of my This gap between us will be filled with love or loss series.

December: Dublin

Thanks to all for your kind support throughout 2017.

Here’s to 2018 and the unexpected, the unimagined it will bring.

 

Posted in A Flickr Year, Best of year, iPhone, iPhone photography, James, Summer 2017, 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

My favourite photographs of 2017 – January

It’s that time of year when you hear it’s that time of year.

Well, it is!

It’s that time of year when I look back and rediscover the photographic journey I have been on over the past 12 months. I’ve been doing these since 2012 – one of iPhone and one for non-iPhone. Before it was quite simple. All I had to do was look back over my Flickr stream and make the selection. But I have not been as active on that platform as I had been in years gone by. Now, it is mainly Instagram. In the past few months I have tried to get back into the groove with Flickr, but truth be told it is a little stale on there. Am hoping it will bounce back to life.

Anyway, I am digressing. Back to it being that time of year and that time when I choose my favourite photographs.

Where to begin? January brought me to Iceland on a university exchange. I remember the excitement  and wonder I experienced as the bus made its way from the airport to downtown Reykjavik. I had never seen landscape like it. Staring out the window, lost in thought, I felt I had landed on the surface of the moon, only for the chatter of my fellow tourists to break me from this sense. Iceland did not disappoint. It is truly spectacular. I really did not have much time to explore, but on my very first walk  along the seafront I stumbled upon this residence. Apparently this is the house of a local artist.

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

While the natural beauty of Iceland will take your breath away and you will have your camera constantly raised to eye level, at times it is good to look down too. This photo brings me back to the little road trip I took with Toka on a very cold Friday afternoon. I was cautious not to fall. While Toka is not in this photo, I can recall her laughing as she looked at me getting this shot.

That’s what photos are about – little memory triggers. Thanks, Toka, for making happy memories with me.

Iceland

February photographs up next.

 

Posted in Best of year, iPhone, iPhone photography, photograph posts, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

My talk at ZafigoX

It was quite the honour to be the only male speaker invited to talk at ZafigoX Travel Conference for Women in Penang Malaysia in August.

The premise of the talk was based around two wonderful ideas. The first from Benjamin Disraeli who said: “Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”

And the second from a conversation I had in the car with my daughter when she was just three years old: Where do yesterdays go, Daddy? I don’t know, lovey, Where do they go? I know, Daddy, they go into photographs.” The beauty of this idea has stayed with me ever since.

I will let you enjoy the talk.

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

Why I love to shoot with Provoke App

iPhone photography is all about the apps, isn’t it?

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke app)

That is one of the things that gets thrown at me quite a bit. What app did you use for that? My stock response is: “I shoot with the native camera app and do a little editing with Snapseed.”

Busan (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

As a photographer I am very much on the side of those who think photography is about photographs – not about cameras. I tune out when photographers begin to talk about the technical side of things, but conversely I tune in when the topic of new apps pops up. I would tend to download a lot of new photography apps and experiment with them. Truth be told, I have never found a camera app that works better than the native one on the iPhone, and the with all the editing apps I have downloaded there are only two that I use regularly: Snapseed and RNI Films. The other apps live a lonely life in my Photography folder on my iPhone. Things changed a little when I came across Provoke Camera App. From the start I knew there was something different about this one. It was developed by Glyn Evans [the founder of iPhoneography], and as it says on its download page –  it was inspired by Japanese photographers of the late 1960’s like Daido Moriyama, Takuma Nakahira and Yutaka Takanashi. 

Kuala Lumpur (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

I came across the app at an opportune moment. I was embarking on a 5-week tour of 5 countries in Asia. Heading out to do photo talks and walks in Malaysia, Singapore, Bali and Hong Kong. But it was on the beach in Busan, South Korea where I first began to play with my new camera app. The lighting conditions – strong, bright and harsh sunlight were perfect to shoot with the app. There are nine different filters you can use but I let it on HPAN High Contrast for the entire trip. I had found a look I liked and I did not want to stray from this. The app itself is simple to use and allows you to shoot in TIFF format, separate focus and exposure, and shoot with or without flash. Clicking on the ? sign provides an easy to follow guide.

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Shooting on a crowded Haeundae beach on a hot summer’s day was fun. I had never shot with flash before, but once I fired the first blast and saw the results I knew this is what I wanted to do on this trip. Very quickly I learned that using the flash results in shots being missed. It slows things down. This I loved. Why? Because street photography is not about snapshots. Because I was missing shots, I had to become more alert. It becomes about anticipation; sensing the scene before it occurs; timing people’s movements and reactions. It’s funny in real life I am not a patient person at all. Just ask my wife. But in photography I am. With each little failure – shot missed – it pushed me to get the next one better.

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

In the past few months how I shoot on the streets has changed. Why? It’s all down to Portrait Mode on the iPhone. I’ve mixed things up a lot and now will approach interesting characters I encounter on the street and ask can I take their photo (should I say make your photo!?). Invariably, everyone says OK. Like always their reaction initially is one of surprise. But with a smile, a few questions and little telling them of who I am and where I am from, the ice breaks and as I am shooting all through this exchange I sometimes can get good shots.

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Over the course of the trip I was working like this: Interesting characters would get my attention on the street (or beach) and I would approach them telling them I was a photographer and could I take their photo. I would try to explain what it is about them that got my interest – their hat, sunglasses, shirt, tattoos, the fact they were smoking, or that they just looked cool. This led to the ice being broken and we were off. I would start with portrait mode, then power up Provoke and fire off a few shots with flash (works so well for cliche smoke shots), and then whip up the Fuji X100T to round things off. Another thing I did was to shoot extra shots when I felt I was done. This is a little trick I learned from my buddy Eric Kim.

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Kuala Lumpur (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Being summer in Asia it was hot. Being a pale Irishman not used to the heat I quickly learned that it was perhaps better to get out wandering the streets when the sun had gone down. So, a lot of the time the shots I got with the Provoke App was at night, and the results can be quite good. Sure, the quality is not going to match a DSLR or mirrorless camera, but still, I do like the shots I got at night in places like Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Korea.

South Korea (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Kuala Lumpar (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

I was lucky enough to be brought to Kuta beach in Bali with Bali’s best moped drive (and a Fuji X photographer) Gathoe Subroto. He may be Bali’s best moped driver, but I sure was Bali’s worst pillion passenger. I had vowed never to get on the back of a two-wheeled vehicle again in my life years back, but I could not refuse Gathoe. But seriously, never again! However, it was worth it for the shots I got with him in Kuta. Where this app using the H-Pan filter works best is shooting into direct sunlight. I like harsh light and shooting contra luz, especially when you get silhouettes like these.

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

On my travels, when I was meeting up with friends, each and every one I showed shots this app produced all had the same response. “What’s it called?” they asked as they began to search for it and download it on the App Store. My Android friends were not too happy, though. For now it is only available on IOS.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

How could it be improved?

Speed. This is probably the main issue. It is slow. Slower when you shoot with flash. As Rinzi Ruiz says: If you see it, it is too late.” I missed a lot of shots with it. But I always miss a lot of shots. That is street. The other thing that needs addressing is editing. When you want to edit an image from your camera roll it is impossible to locate because for some reason the images appear in a random order. With some closing and opening of the app you can correct it, but honestly I gave up. It needs to be fixed. How? Just allow a copy and paste function. Copy from Camera Roll and paste into app. Also, it would be cool if they allowed access to the dual lens system on iPhone.

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

All in all this is a killer app. The very best I have worked with as a native camera replacement, and most definitely the most fun. And that is what it is all about: fun.

So, is iPhone photography all about the apps? No, it’s about the moments you encounter and try to create memories of through photographs. This app, Provoke, does that and it can produce stunning shots.

Kiss the future…

 

 

Posted in iPhone, Resources, Street Photography 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 , , , , , , , |