Fran explains how therapeutic photography on her iPhone brings her joy and distraction as she learns to notice the beauty in everyday
We are very appreciative that Geelong based iPhone photographer Fran has shared her story. She openly explains how the convenience of smartphone photography brings her both joy and distraction.
The health benefits of photography are well documented. Fran explains how the phone, in particular, has allowed her to practise self-expression and mindfulness.
This is a great opportunity to reflect on how photography has benefited yourself as a creative outlet, escapism and a connection with others.
What is your story - why and how did you get into mobile photography?
I call it my Creative Therapy. My mobile photography evolved as a by-product of an illness which caused an Acquired Brain Injury. I initially used my phone to take photos to aid my memory and, while taking daily walks to exercise and escape my small apartment, I found a world of beauty I hadn’t previously taken the time to stop and see. Everything started looking beautiful and I began to find joy in the simple things so I chose to capture these moments so I wouldn’t forget. I quickly became a self-confessed garden stalker, edible garden lover, bee-chaser and sunset admirer.
I have found the process of stopping and observing very grounding and a great way to stay present when, on occasions, it has felt like my world was crumbling. I have found that, at the tip of my fingers, I have this great device, bringing me joy and distraction, both at the time of taking the photos and then later again when I sort, delete and edit them; a perfect hobby for my fluctuating capacity. Mobile photography has no time limitations. It is convenient and, using the small mobile screen, is less taxing on my brain than a computer screen, which gives me sensory overload.
Sharing my photography on social media began as a way of staying connected to a world I have been unable to participate in, particularly at times when I have been housebound, due to the constraints of my illness. Mobile photography has been an excellent distraction to keep me engaged and purposeful as opposed to feeling sorry for myself. Through mobile photography, I have discovered a new hobby for myself and my brain, which has brought me an incredible amount of joy.
What is your mobile device and top five apps?
I started taking photos with my iPhone 5, and also used a macro lens attachment. I have since moved to an iPhone 7 in September 2016.
My Top 5 apps most regularly used are Snapseed, Pixlr, Mextures, Lenslight and Retouch.
What’s the best part of being a mobile photographer?
Having the accessibility of my device to capture moments spontaneously. Also, having the convenience of being able to engage in photography anytime I like; my device is always within arm’s reach and no preparation or organisation is required. It is convenient to my needs and gets me outdoors engaging in a healthy active lifestyle. Also, the communities are great, welcoming and supportive. I now have a new circle of friends both on line and also in person to share my new hobby.
How would you describe your style and how did you discover it?
I haven’t found a specific photography style yet. I photograph anything that I see as beautiful and the subject is dependent on my daily activities and my location. I play with Macro, Landscapes, Seascape, Sunsets, Animals, Black and White. The common theme of my photos is nature. I like using editing apps to feature the beauty in what I am photographing because it allows me to be creative and explore different moods. I like to challenge myself to create a slight point of difference in photos so I am not producing exactly the same shot over and over; though that is up to the perspective of the individual viewer.
How do you find and decide your subjects and stories to photograph?
I incorporate photography into my daily life. Sometimes, for new material, I go on a deliberate photo finding adventure but more often than not there is beauty right in front of my eyes. Another thing I have enjoyed about being a part of the Better Mobile Photos Community is the weekly challenges. This opens my eyes to be creative when out and about; to be aware of different things that I may not have ordinarily seen.
What are your top three tips for creating your photos, rather than capturing a happy snap?
- Get down low, and be aware of your own position to the subject.
- Use the light to your advantage and be aware of the shadows.
- When using editing apps, use them for what you feel and would like to see, not what you think it should look like; create your own beautiful!
Do you have a typical capturing and editing process?
I take a lot, and I mean a lot, of photos, which I then scroll through to shortlist and delete, this usually occurs on several different occasions. When I come across photos I like and see potential in, I use the ‘favourites’ tool in the camera settings to further refine. The photos that make it to ‘favourites’, get further edited and tweaked. Sometimes it can happen quickly, if I have a vision of what I want immediately, other times photos can sit in ‘favourites’ for some time before I come to them and edit, as it all depends on my capacity and time. I don’t have a specific editing process, but in general terms and no particular order I choose which part of the shot I’d like to feature, play around with cropping & rotation, where I want to draw the eye, I think about light, colour, structure, sharpening, mood, overall appearance. Lots more, and a lot less; it all depends on the photo.
What advice do you have for those just discovering their passion for mobile photography?
Join the Smartphone Photography Training community. There are lots of editing apps out there that can be rather daunting at first so I would suggest starting with Snapseed. Mike has created some excellent and really simple to follow tips and video guides which I have learnt so much from (Thanks Mike!) Also, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way, play around with your photos and explore; photography is all to do with an individual’s perspective and interpretation.