I’m really pleased to share this interview with Chris Baird, an iPhone photographer from Oregon who has an incredible eye for both simplicity and detail. Whether she’s shooting dramatic landscapes or close-ups of flowers and textures, she always captures the essence of her subject in such a beautiful way. In this interview you’ll discover more about Chris, and how she learned to take such wonderful photos in just a few months.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Oregon, and except for four years in Santa Fe, NM, I’ve lived here all my life.
I’m currently living in Eugene, and I work as an Executive Assistant in the College of Business at the University of Oregon. I have a daughter and two grandsons.
How did your iPhone photography journey begin?
My photography journey began in March 2015 with the click of a mouse. While searching the Internet for something, I came across an advert for iPhone Photography School.
I checked it out and immediately signed up for the iPhone Photo Academy course taught by Emil Pakarklis, founder of iPhone Photography School. From that moment I was hooked!
Once I’d completed that course, I signed up to the iPhone Editing Academy to learn more about editing my photos.
And now I’m enrolled on the iPhone Photo Masters course where we learn from a different iPhone photography expert each month.
Apart from family and vacation photos with a basic point and shoot camera, I’d never done photography before.
Since day one of these courses I’ve been going all out trying to learn as much as I can and taking photos almost every day.
What is it that you enjoy so much about iPhone photography?
The iPhone has made photography accessible to me. Without it, I never would have gotten started in photography.
I just love taking photos, but wouldn’t be doing it if I had to haul around a DSLR camera and equipment.
I’m so appreciative of the way iPhone photography has opened my eyes to seeing things I never noticed before. I now view the world in a completely new way.
I’ve become addicted to photography, and I guess like any addict, I need my daily “fix” which I can easily get using my iPhone.
What kind of things inspire you to reach for your iPhone and take a photo?
I’m a detail person and I’m drawn to simplicity. Consequently, a lot of my photos are close-ups and tend to be somewhat minimalistic.
I love nature, and photography has provided me with the motivation to get outdoors.
I also like to photograph architecture, especially architectural details.
You shoot beautiful close-ups of nature, including flowers, leaves and insects. Do you use a macro lens or just the built-in lens of the iPhone?
I’ve always used the built-in lens, and only very recently acquired a macro lens. For close-ups, I generally shoot using the macro mode in the Camera+ app.
It can be hard to get your subject in focus up close, and you have to hold the camera very still. Turning on the stabilizer mode in Camera+ can help.
Since focus can be tricky, I always take a lot of shots so that hopefully I get a good one.
You also capture stunning abstract images of interesting textures. What kind of subjects work well for this type of photography?
I love rust! Until I started photography, I never noticed how beautiful rust could be. There seems to be no end to the variety of colors and textures, especially if it also includes old paint.
The natural world also provides infinite variations and sources of wonderful patterns and textures.
What tips would you give to anyone who wants to start shooting more interesting photos of buildings and architecture?
However, in order for symmetry to be effective, you need to ensure the shot is composed with everything lined up perfectly central.
Are there any other genres of photography that you’d like to try out?
The iPhone Photo Master’s course is presenting me with a wide range of opportunities to try out different photography genres.
You mentioned that you’ve enrolled on several of our online iPhone photography courses? How has this ongoing learning changed your approach to photography?
I never did photography before the iPhone Photography School courses, so pretty much everything I know has been a result of this learning.
I also participate in a number of Facebook groups and local meetup groups focused on photography, which provide me with learning opportunities.
I’ve been participating in the iPhone 365 Photo Project Facebook group since July. The challenge and feedback has been a catalyst for great improvement in my photography.
Are there any apps that you use for taking photos besides the native camera app?
Slow Shutter Cam is handy for blurring motion, such as water movement.
And Cortex Cam is good for low light and night photos as it produces less grain.
What are your favorite apps for post-processing?
I tend to do somewhat minimal editing to my photos, so I don’t spend a lot of time on post-processing.
I think that “less is more” when it comes to editing, and I’d much rather be out taking photos.
Do you use any iPhone photography accessories?
I quickly learned not to go out shooting without an external battery, so I now own two of them, along with a 6-foot power cable.
And I love my Shoulderpod S1 smartphone grip. It provides me with a much more comfortable and secure way of holding my phone.
Can you briefly explain the story and editing behind your three favorite iPhone photos?
I took this photo about a month after I started doing photography. It may not be technically the greatest photo, but I love the feeling and emotion it evokes in me every time I look at it.
I was on vacation, staying at a wonderful bed and breakfast lodge in Hood River Oregon. I’d gotten up very early to try to photograph the sunrise (without much luck) and ended up with this photo instead.
I used my iPhone 5 on a tripod, and took the photo with the Slow Shutter Cam app. I straightened the perspective with SKRWT, and used the Tune Image tool in Snapseed for other enhancements.
This photo was taken at Sunset Bay on the Oregon Coast. I’d gone out early one morning at low tide to photograph rocks and sea life in the tide pools.
I came across this exquisite bejeweled moth in a shallow indentation in the rocks. It was so unexpected.
Conditions were perfect for the photo with the way the light reflected off the bubbles on the moth, and the perfect background formed by the rock. Even death can be beautiful.
I took the photo using the Camera+ app on my iPhone 5. Minimal editing was done with Snapseed.
On my breaks at work I often go out walking with my iPhone to look for things to photograph. This photo was taken on one of those walks and has always been one of my favorites.
The sprinklers had just been turned off, and the light was reflecting off droplets on these grasses. It really caught my eye.
I took the picture with my iPhone 5 using the macro mode in Camera+, and I edited it in Snapseed.
Do you ever feel the need to use a larger format camera for your photography, or does the iPhone do everything you want?
There have been times when I would have loved a good zoom lens that a DSLR would provide, but the iPhone really does everything I need.
If it wasn’t for the iPhone, I wouldn’t even be doing photography and my life would be so much less rich.
What tips do you have for beginner iPhone photographers who want to start taking more creative photos with the iPhone?
Get out there as often as you can and take a lot of pictures. You don’t have to take a lot of time or travel far.
Open your eyes to what’s around you as you go through your day. You’ll be surprised at the new things you’ll see and the opportunities that will be presented to you.
The beauty of the iPhone camera is that you always have it with you, but it doesn’t do any good in your pocket. It’s up to you to be aware, see the photo opportunities, and pause to capture them.
Keep learning by taking courses, viewing other photographers’ work, and participating in photography groups like those on Facebook or a meetup group.
Which iPhone photographers do you admire the most?
Obviously, Emil Parkarlis (@iPhone_Photography_School) from iPhone Photography School has had the biggest influence on my photography.
I really resonate with Jack Hollingsworth’s photographic style and philosophy. He’s on Instagram @jackhollingsworth.
Evelyne Sieber Lang’s photography has been an inspiration to me, and I strive to attain the quality and precision that her photos exhibit.
In addition to being a great photographer, she’s a classy and gracious person. You can see Evelyne’s photography on EyeEm @evelynesieber.
I admire Teri Lou Dantzler’s joie de vivre and passion, which carries over into her photography.
She’s a huge advocate for iPhone photography and is always willing to share her knowledge and encourage iPhone photographers to grow and stretch in their art.
You can see Teri’s work on her blog: www.teriloublog.com
Where can we see your iPhone photography?
You can find my photos on EyeEm @ornative.