iPhoneographer of the Week – Jordan Cortese | @jordan_miles

I have been keeping me eye on the work Jordan Cortese over the course of a few months now. Patiently sitting back and watching him grow as an iPhoneographer. I believe Jordan’s technicality shine through on every image he chooses to publish no matter it be a street scene or some musical notion. There is no question that there is a passion behind the work of Jordon Cortese!

(Almost There)

Enough of what I think, we’ll let Jordan speak for himself…

EC: Tell me about yourself? Where are you from?

JC: I was born and raised in the Bronx in New York City with my parents and younger brother and currently live in the Westchester County area of New York, but I work and take classes in the city. I’ve always loved New York City. It’s where my heart is and I will probably stay here the rest of my life. There really is no other place like it. My family, community, and church has a deep appreciation and love for the arts whether it be visual or performing so growing up I was always surrounded by the arts and from an early age I realized that this was an area I wanted to learn and grow in. I have to give a lot of credit to my father who all my life exposed me to so much between music, art, and culture. He would take me to galleries, plays, jazz gigs – you name it he made sure I experienced it. He’s a huge reason that I am doing what I do today.

EC: How did you get into iPhoneography?

JC: I got into iPhoneography a while back after visiting an EYE’EM gallery show that was going on in the city with my family and friends. I had done photography for a while already but I remember seeing the pieces up by people like Sion Fullana, Jesse Wright, and Anton Kawasaki and was really blown away. They were simply great photos and really showed me the capabilities of this phone and more importantly how powerful these apps were. To see though the grit and un-pretty-ness of iPhone photos that you could create really got me. There’s a filmic character and patina you can achieve with an iPhone that you can’t do with a DSLR.  My dad was already hip to what was going on in the iPhoneography community but this show sealed the deal for me.

EC: What does iPhoneography mean to you?

JC: To be honest it’s meaning less and less to me lol. Photography is photography in my opinion. The term has defiantly stuck and I think in some ways it’s a great identifier but in other ways I think it boxes us in. Shoot it on a DSLR, iPhone, Blackberry, I don’t care. To me all these guys are photographers….who happen to use an iPhone. To me the principles of light and composition still apply no matter the medium. No app can save a poorly shot photo. If I’m applying too many apps to a photo I have to check myself and ask if I’m trying to save a photo or make it something that it’s not. I’m really learning that less is more. If anything iPhoneography means to me a more accessible way for people to capture and create great photos. I tell people all the time to not be discouraged about not being able to afford a DSLR. I’ve learned so much on how to shoot better by using an iPhone. It challenges a DSLR shooter like myself in great ways.

EC: Can you recall the first iPhoto you took that made you go WOW, I really got something here!?

JC: Yeah defiantly. It’s a photo I took called “Simply Waiting.” Initially I downloaded a couple apps like PictureShow and Hipstamatic and was just fiddling around finding something that looked cool and was duped by seeing my photo flip colors. This photo though made me realize what the real beauty of using an iPhone is which is that it’s a perfect medium for street photography alongside my DSLR. Its size makes it unnoticeable and its simply allows me to get shots I could never get with my big hunking DSLR pointing at someone’s face, especially in tight areas. I remember looking at it and just saying “man if I didn’t have iPhone I couldn’t never have shared that moment”. It’s an important picture to me and a reminder of the fact that capturing moments is so much more important than just a cool photo.


(Simply Waiting)

EC: How has social media such as Twitter and Instagram helped or hinder the way you choose to share your work with others?

JC: Twitter and Instagram are simply awesome. I’m a big twitter user. I prefer it miles more then Facebook and especially for photographers, cinematographers, and artists. It creates a very different kind of community for artists that Facebook I don’t think can achieve. Initially I didn’t hop on the Instagram bandwagon because I wasn’t crazy about the filters and the low -res output, but then I realized that none of those things was what made that app special. The community that’s on there, the instant feedback, the way you can view images on your iPhone in a streamlined way, all work together to do something that I think Flickr should have done way back in there app but just dropped the ball.

EC:What about your hometown is so special that it makes you what to capture it through your iPhone?

JC: New York City is it for me. I’ve been to many states and countries but New York City still draws me in for some reason. The diversity, the people, the character, are all things that make it so special. The Bronx where I was raised I feel is a real gem though. There’s an age and patina in the people, neighborhoods, and businesses that is really unique and special. The colors and character I feel make it unique amongst the other boroughs and being able to just walk and in any moment whip out my phone and capture something different is just thrilling. There’s so many unspoken stories that can be told through pictures in The Bronx and that’s motivating for me. To share what I experience around me. I’m in Manhattan a majority of the time but this summer I hope to do a dedicated series of the Bronx.


(In Out and Gone)

EC: Who or what are some of your artistic influences?

JC: There’s way to many to name but I really feel my biggest influences are the things that are not photo related. People, life, situations, and music especially are all huge influences. Sometimes hearing a certain song in my head completely changes how I edit a photo. I think that’s why my photos never look similar to me. I’m kinda flippant in that sense lol. Life is not streamlined and I think art reflects that. Fine artists especially know this because they go through various seasons in their craft. To me the same applies to photography. Some days I’m in a black and white mood and some days I’m in an all out super saturated kinda mood. It all depends, but I try not limit myself in how I edit. Every moment is unique and special so I try to apply that to my photos. To name a few iPhoneographers though I’m a big fan of Aik Beng Chia, Dan Berman, Stephanie Roberts, Emily Rose, and a buddy of mine named Adrian Valdez. Adrian just knows how to capture color and texture like no one else. He’s got such a great eye and every single photo he takes is great to me. All these guys though have a really signature look that I wouldn’t say is so much in how they edit but how they shoot. They clearly communicate how they see things.

EC: What has been the some of the challenges of using the iPhone as a camera?

JC: Well coming from a DSLR world it’s like using a stone and chisel but that’s what makes it great cause it has its limits. I think low light performance on the camera could be better but getting sharp pictures is always a challenge with the iPhone. I always sharpen my pictures. The iPhone likes a lot of light so I’ve defiantly have learned to have a steadier hand and be critical about where I tap to focus. Also tweaking colors has always been a challenge. I go through many apps sometimes to find the color process that I’m looking for.


(Down By The River)

EC: Has your work been published before, if so, where? Did you ever expect your work to be noticed by the iPhoneography community?

JC: I haven’t had my work published yet but it’s been cool to have other iPhone photographers notice my work and show support. When one of them comments on a photo or something it’s like having a celebrity make a comment to me. It’s a new feeling for me to have people following my work and get noticed. I have yet to print a photo of mine but to have a shot in a gallery one day would be really awesome. The iPhoneography community is really special and knowing photographers from across the country that share a passion for it just great.

EC: What has been the most surprising or most predictable reaction from people to your iPhotographs?

JC: I think the most surprising reaction I’ve gotten was one comment where someone thought I took a shot on a DSLR when in fact I took it on an iPhone. That’s always a good feeling because when you can’t tell the difference I think it’s special. It reminds you that gear isn’t the most important factor in taking a great photo. Like David DuChemin, one of my favorite photographers says, “gear is good, vision is better”.


(By The Castle)

EC: What’s in your iPhone camera bag (apps)? What app(s) do you currently use the most often?

JC: Currently my go-to-apps are CrossProcess, TiffenFX, PictureShow, Shake it photo, Iris, monochromia, and Noir. Unless I’m going for a really specific look or doing something more visually out of the box these apps are the ones I use. my favorite though would have to be Camera+ and CrossProcess. CrossProcess in particular is special to me because it’s the only app in my opinion that enhances rather than altars a photo. It’s not too heavy of a baked in look like Hipstamatic. I’d probably use Hipstamtic though more often if it gave me more flexibility. If I do use it I’ll edit it quite a bit so I only get what I want from it, because the things that the John S lens does to photos is really unique. Every app though does something unique and special and sometimes a photo just screams for a particular one. More often though I treat my shots like I would a DSLR photo which is to enhance a photo more then anything else.

EC: Do you mind telling us how you have created a recent piece of iPhoneographic work from start to finish? (a workflow step by step of the photo with renditions along the way of the photos you used for the final, example below)

JC: So here is the original shot I took on Lexington Ave in Manhattan…

First I flipped it so that CrossProcess can process it where I want it at…

Apply CrossProcess…

Then I run it through Camera+ to crop it to the square format I want and apply the clarity filter which I feel really helps to bring out the grain and texture…

Then finally I pass it through Noir, which gives me not only the vignette control I want but also better draw you to the subject. It also is gives it a more serious mood which is what I was going for…And then for finishing the touch I run it through TiffenFx to sharpen it.

EC: What other thoughts would you like to share?

JC: Just to keep shooting and experience things aside from photography and let that shape your work. You only get better at shooting by shooting but you become more creative through experiences. My dad always reminds me the importance of allowing myself to experience people and to receive things from outside of the world of Jordan. I don’t know everything but I’ll learn more if I move beyond myself.


(Straight Up Lost)

Thank you Jordan for participating in this feature here on iPhoneogenic, the  iPhoneogenic Facebook Page, and on Twitter @iPhone0genic.  I am pleased and very honored to have you on my blog.

For more on Jordan check out these links:

Flicker: www.flickr.com/jordanmilesphotography
Twitter: @jordan_miles
Instagram @jordan_miles

All images shown here are copyrighted property of the artist, please contact Jordan Cortese for copyright privileges.

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