I first discovered Tracy after becoming actively involved in our weekly photo themes on Instagram. What really stood out for me, was the full frame close ups and macros. Tracy really makes full use of her lens attachments and explores the world around her in different perspectives - not just field of view, in angles, lighting and colour. The composition is consistently considered, isolating and making the subjects and stories really obvious to us viewers.
So, so pleased that Traacy has gone to so much effort answering the below questions for us to gain an insight into her passion and photographic journey from film to DSLR to iPhone ...enjoy
What is your story – why and how did you get into mobile photography?
This isn’t a very easy question… Or should I say a short answer.
I didn’t even get into the digital transition until 2009, when I finally broke down and bought a digital SLR. Had a hard time letting go of film. In Spring 2010, I moved to Texas, and the trip across the made me think about it from time to time. A year later my daughter started getting into photography, but was only using her mobile phone. Of course, we (as in other DSLR photographers) made fun of her, but started taking notice when she processed and uploaded her photographs all before we left the venue we were photographing. Another year, and I upgraded my phone, at that time it was a Samsung.
My daughter really introduced me into the social media aspect of photography, mainly through Instagram. My very first shot was on her birthday in June 2012. Still I fought it; pointing out how it really wasn’t up to par with the DSLRs, yet. In 2013, we seriously compared the Samsung to the iPhone at that time. Since everyone in the family had an iPhone but us, we were able to do an in-depth comparison. We ended up switching to iPhone shortly after. Then in 2015, I shot half with a phone and half with a DSLR. By the end of 2015, 80% of my shooting was from a smartphone, except for model shoots and some macro.
Finally in 2017 I spent 4 months in England and Wales shooting with only my iPhone and lens attachments (macro, wide angle and fisheye). Since I was traveling light, I didn’t want the extra 12 pounds of DSLR and lenses.
I do still shoot film, but with vintage cameras. A Baby Brownie, Medium format (2x3) and another larger Kodak Brownie. But only in black and white. And the DSLR? I still have it, but now my fellow photographers, always act shocked when I bring it out.
What is your mobile device and top five apps?
I use ProCamera instead of the native camera app in the phone 90% of the time.
NightCap Camera, for light trails, water and other long exposures (Steel wool comes out amazing with it).
Hyperlapse for time-lapse video. I use the Native Camera for Slo-Mo Video and Panorama.
For processing I use;
What's the best part of being a mobile photographer?
- First is versatility. As in, it is always with you. I see a picture everywhere, so always having a camera allows me to capture on the fly, something I may not have taken the time shoot, if not for the phone camera being so handy.
- Being able to process and upload shots, almost immediately.
- The weight. With the pixels increasing constantly with the smartphones now, they are in a competing spot with the entry level DSLRs. I don’t enlarge more than 18 x 20 and the phone enlarges easily to this size, crisp and clear.
How would you describe your style?
Documentary Style. I didn’t know for quite awhile until a photographer friend pointed it out to me. Looking back, I agree. That one shot, one moment in time, the story, that is what I am always looking for.
How do you find and decide your subjects and stories to photograph?
Most times, I am going out to shoot I have something in mind. Photowalks or workshops, those kinds of things. The venue is picked; once I am there I decide what to shoot. For instance, the Botanical Gardens in Austin, I go every three months to shoot. Each time, I pick a different part of the park, or all macro, all flowers, all critters, all water…you get the drift. It keeps me challenged and makes me look at different aspects, instead of everything, all the time.
My England trip was different. I knew I would be shooting a lot of architecture ahead of time. I went with several projects in mind: street photography, doorways, doorknockers, macro/nature, and history. What I found was much more. It was the first time, I went somewhere with major projects in mind and I shot over 9k pictures. And, I only posted on Instagram.
Also have an on-going project of The Small Towns of Texas.
My model shoots, I put together months in advance. Venue, model, what style and how many photographers are being invited. Money is the motivator there. How much will it cost, everything else I do is free.
What are your top three tips for creating your photos, rather than capturing a happy snap?
- Lighting: Side, back, direct, contrast
- How to shoot it: Angle and camera settings
- Set-up/Preparedness: Quick and easy
Do you have a typical capturing and editing process?
This is a really difficult question. In most cases I am still a traditionalist. I try to capture everything in camera, with little processing.
With that being said, I have some photographs, that will tell you their story. Some cry for black and white, while some want more saturation, or barely any color.
On Adobe Photoshop Express app, I do use one action more than any others, but that’s because I like the look. No other reason.
Sometimes I upload to CS6 and my NIX software and edit from there. Not a lot, but I do use them.
Something you're still learning?
Always learning. I host Meet-ups for photography workshops, photowalks, and model shoots. I also host invitational shoots for small groups. I love them. I enjoy passing on the knowledge and passion I have for the creative process and capturing that one great shot. I learn constantly from all photographers of all skills. I hosted a Balloon launch a few years ago. It was the largest group I ever hosted was 72 photographers. I learned so much after that shoot, or I noticed more, I’m not totally sure which. After this Meet-up 240 pictures were presented, and not one of them was a duplicate. Everyone saw something different and captured it.
I am always asking questions of other photographers. Always learning. Always trying new applications as well.
What advice do you have for those just discovering their passion for mobile photography?
Get a thick skin. Like all art, it is subjective to the viewer and the artist. While your art is personal, don’t take the criticism personal. Photography, painting, water colouring, etc is an emotion. You created with an emotion; you hope to sell it on an emotion. Just learn to not be emotional, when anyone says to your favourite picture is not your best. Ask, learn and listen.
Always, always, experiment and try something new. Whether, it’s an application, camera settings, exposure, back lighting, side lighting, contrast, angle, etc. Keep an open mind, ask questions, listen or read all you can. While photography in itself has not changed, how you capture the shot has (DSLR, Phone, Pinhole etc). Other than my clip lenses (I have nine different lenses I shoot with), I have not found a decent telephoto yet. And when it says Zoom, it isn’t.
These articles are a great resource to learn a mobile photography specific technique or tip. Your fastest transition to becoming the confident and creative smartphone photographer you want and deserve to be is a strategically designed course.
An impactful and engaging WOW image consists of a strong subject, composition and lighting. The real power and fun transforming the image is then photo editing. Recreate that story, feeling and intention lost in the photo capture by strategically applying visual literacy and mobile apps to enhance your results and passion for photography.