How Grace Brignolle Takes Great iPhone Street Photos

I’m really excited to share an interview with Grace Brignolle, an incredibly talented iPhone street photographer from New York City. In this interview you’re going to learn more about Grace and how she takes incredible street photos with her iPhone.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I am originally from Ecuador but I have spent most of my adult life in New York City. I am a mother of three daughters and I am a small business owner. At college I studied graphic design and took some photography courses as well. I was never able to pursue a career in either due to motherhood and all of the responsibilities that come along with raising a family.

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Looking back on things now, even though I only took a handful of photography classes it left an impression on me. I loved it as a medium for composing stories from mere moments.

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How did you journey in iPhoneography begin?

I discovered my passion two years ago when I was invited to attend a photo walk in Soho, NYC. At the end of the photo walk I was astonished by what I had captured with my iPhone, and thus began my street photography journey of documenting vibrant street scenes. I began using my iPhone to take pictures of everything. It became my obsession. Street photography became my form of self expression.

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Do you have any favorite photography scenes or subjects? 

My ideal scene/subject is incorporating architecture with people and how the two not only relate within a photo but how this relation tells a story. While my main focus is street photography, I also love photographing dogs and random, ambiguous parts of the body such as legs. It might sound odd, but taking headless photographs can be very intriguing .

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What app(s) do you use for shooting photos? 

I use a few apps: ProCamera 7, VSCO and Hipstamatic, but the one that I am in love with is OGGL.

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What apps do you normally use in your editing workflow?

For editing I use Snapseed, VSCO and OGGL.

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What advice do you have for novice photographers who want to start taking creative photos? 

I am an iPhoneographer. So while my advice leans more towards the mobile space, this advice can relate to those that use tools other than the iPhone: never leave home without your iPhone. Take pictures of everything and everywhere, and learn your go-to apps well. Learn the elements of composition and how to incorporate these elements into your photography.

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New iPhoneographers often struggle with overediting and effects that aren’t consistent with the message of the photo. What tips do you have for editing that actually makes sense?

This is tricky. Editing is such a subjective topic but while this may be the case, I tend to lean on the “less is more” way of going about editing. When I see a scene, I photograph the scene and whatever app I decide to go with I want it to help complement the scene and that’s it. While there are tons of apps that can enhance or change the photograph,  I try not to manipulate the photograph too much because that is just not my style. I prefer for the photo to tell the story as organically as possible.

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As a street photographer you have to take photos without asking for permission. Has it ever lead to any misunderstandings?

Generally I don’t feel that I have to ask anyone for permission because I am quite respectful to others and their space. I try to blend in as much as possible and to not be as overtly obvious as to not disturb the scene that’s formed in my mind.

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There are a few things that I will never photograph I will never photograph a homeless person due to my aversion to exploitation, or a child. While children make for incredible subjects, they lack the ability to understand consent and having a parent or guardian around to ask for consent would be needed, so I don’t bother.

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I would never want to exploit anyone or photograph an individual in a compromising situation. There have been times that I have been approached by the person(s) that I have photographed and they’ve asked me to delete the photo and I have done it without hesitation or a fight. I totally understand and try to be respectful to the privacy of others.

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Street photography is all about storytelling. What tips do you have for telling a powerful story in a photo? 

As a street photographer there are several things you have to consider before taking the shot:

1. Composition – the rule of thirds. Does your eye move easily within the image or does it jump around? Should I get closer, does the photograph need to be cropped? Vertical or horizontal orientation? etc.

2.. Does this shot have a “wow” factor?

3. Is this depiction a happy or a sad one?

All in all, my tip would be to ask yourself if there is something that is attractive, and if so, go for it.

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What other iPhoneographers do you admire the most?

@asf_nyc, @shelserkin, @bws_c_urbancat, @albionsamson, and @m_mateis.

Where do you think mobile photography is headed in the future? 

Soon enough mobile photography will be recognized as the new medium of photography. It will be an entity of its own. Along with this, mobile photography will be more highly regarded and respected for its role in recording events in its own unique way.

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Where can wee see your iPhone photography? 

You can see my iPhone photography on Flickr.

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  • Thank you Grace for sharing your wonderful work with us!

  • Roman Ivanov

    very interesting!!
    Emil! What do you think about “Union” app? Maybe it is really good app for iPhoneography? Can you make a review? Thanks!

    • Sorry Roman, I don’t know that app. There are too many apps out there, so I don’t even try to keep up with them all. Only a handful are really good 🙂

  • Quintin Van Dyk

    Such an inspiring interview! Thank you for sharing your views and experiences with us.

  • atsash

    Wonderful interview! Thank you so much for publishing this. Thanks to Grace for sharing with us.

    • Thank you, Grace is a great artist, I really like her work 🙂

  • tracymg

    I guess there are exceptions to self imposed rules – there was at least one photo of a child in the gallery here 🙂

  • tracymg

    Great gallery!