Today I’m really excited to interview Paul Brown, who is also known as Skip in our community. Paul is an incredibly talented iPhone artist whose photos have been repeatedly exhibited, and who shares his knowledge and photo editing workflows on his blog about iPhoneography.
In this interview you’re going to find out how Skip approaches iPhoneography and what you can do to become a better iPhone artist yourself.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My real name is Paul but absolutely everyone calls me Skip. I’m married with two young children and live in Lincoln, England.
Do you have arts background, or is iPhoneography your first venture in visual arts?
I’ve always enjoyed photography at an amateur level owning an SLR since my teens but I never had the time to devote to it. Things changed for me in recent years and it coincided with my wife buying me an iPhone for my birthday a couple of years ago and pretty quickly my underlying enjoyment of photography was reignited. I wouldn’t say I have an arts background and I have no academic qualifications.
How did you passion for iPhoneography begin?
It was an accident of circumstance really. I’d never owned or wanted a mobile phone of my own but always enjoyed technology and photography. My work situation changed and the mobile phone that I had through work with no camera was handed back. As I say my wife bought me an iPhone and very very quickly it became an iCamera. I don’t play games or use other apps just communication and shed loads of photography apps.
I’ve always been told I have an eye. I’m not sure what that means in reality but I guess I instinctively know how to frame and time a shot, something that over time I’ve honed with experience.
A professional photographer friend of mine said I was an iPhoneographer and I thought he was pulling my leg. I had no idea such a thing existed. After that I discovered a few communities and social networks and started joining in.
What I saw was inspirational. I met lots of great people, a few in the flesh and quite soon a new breed of iPhoneographers started saying my work inspired them. That’s what gave and still gives me the biggest kick.
After that I started being exhibited, people sometimes commission me to do work for them and even license my images. I got approached by the PR company for Budweiser to be part of the press team at last years FA Cup Semi-finals (Budweiser were sponsors) and really it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind since.
What inspires you to keep taking photos?
I’m painfully introverted. That means that the majority of my inspiration comes from within me. Maybe that’s why people very often say that I have my own style and that they can recognize an image as mine without seeing the name. I don’t know. I don’t really see that myself.
As long as I enjoy it I’ll keep doing it and I’ll continue to draw inspiration both from within and from the amazing work of the Community. Not a day goes by that I’m not stunned by iPhoneography I see and it could come from anyone.
What app(s) do you normally use for taking photos?
I started out on Hipstamatic and Camera+ and flicked between the two. Now I use either Oggl or ProCamera but also switch back to Camera+ occasionally for the headphone volume control shutter functionality if I’m in an environment or frame of mind where I just feel like I want to be a little more discreet.
What are your favorite photo editing apps?
If I could only use one it would be Snapseed. I have folders and folders full of apps though. Picking another five, if I wanted to cover as much functionality as possible I’d say Filterstorm, Superimpose, FrontView, Handy Photo and VSCO Cam.
You sometimes combine elements from multiple photos to crate complex composite images. Could you explain your workflow for achieving this result?
This is all about having suitable images and using layers, masking and blending techniques. For me this is a big part of the joy of iPhoneography. It is my Sudoku or crossword puzzle – how I relax. I don’t regard myself as a master. I don’t have the patience or artistic ability to manually paint elements so everything in my images has to originate from a photograph. I guess there are two approaches to this.
The first involves flicking through the archive and grabbing bits and pieces from my existing library. This is great now that I’ve been capturing images for quite a while and means even without taking new images I can work on a new image.
The second involves having a preconceived idea mapped out and then setting about gathering the elements to create it. The trick really here is to think about the masking process and capture elements in an environment that are going to make making a simple and automated process using tools such as the magic wand. That normally means having a plain clutter free background with good definition of the target subject.
I use Superimpose normally and have several video tutorials on my blog.
What advice do you have for new iPhone photographers who want to start taking artistic photos with the iPhone?
I guess talking from my own experience go out and use tap away. Take photos of anything you find interesting. Play around with the images using a few apps and very quickly a sense of the capabilities of the hardware and software will develop.
Follow people whose work you enjoy on your preferred networks and don’t be afraid to be influenced by what they do.
Finally when you share by all means take on board comments and likes but don’t be too swayed by opinions you don’t agree with. If you’re starting to develop a style you enjoy go with it. For me some of my favorite images have been relatively poorly received but that doesn’t influence how I feel about them. We are all unique.
The number one rule though is the same for everyone and for all forms of photography – try to learn the basics of photography composition and exposure. Once you’ve got that great initial capture you can do almost anything with it.
Could you briefly explain the story and editing behind your three favorite iPhone photos?
I think the easiest thing for me to do is to provide links to 3 images / tutorials on my blog. I try to share one tutorial a week. My favorites are probably:
Which other iPhoneographers do you respect the most?
Oh that’s such an unfair question. I guess I respect the work of those people almost opposite in style to me. I’ve always maintained that the community as a whole is just a massive source of inspiration.
I struggle to name individuals but if you twist my arm, there are people with boundless energy like Nei Cruz who seems to be everywhere and constantly provides encouragement whilst at the same time generating amazing work in their own right.
There are people like Michelle Robinson who’s a unique spirit and probably one of the most passionate people I know about this art form. She manages the AMPt challenges on EyeEm and I’m honored to be part of that team. Her abilities with Decim8 and full on abstract work is something I aspire to.
There are too many to mention that have influenced me but they all know how I feel about their work. I wish I had more time to enjoy it. Life is so fast these days.
I couldn’t find your profile on Instagram. Is there a reason why you are not active on this social network?
I try to post daily on Instagram but my name on there is @phoneograph.
Where else can we see your work with the iPhone?
My own blog is http://skipology.com and I’m well linked on social networks from there.
You can also find my link on About Me at http://skipology.me and once again all my networks are linked from there. I’m not one who suggests “thanks for following me here, now follow me there”. I have a presence on quite a few networks so that my friends can choose to follow my work (or not) where they prefer to spend their time.