iPhoneographer of the Day – T.S. Elliott

With a great eye for finding beauty and realism in the world around him makes T.S. Elliot (not the poet) today’s top iPhoneographer.  The unnoticed goes no more, T.S. sheds new light on them allowing them to shine in all their glory.

Let’s get started…

(The Commuter)

Q: Tell me about yourself? Where are you from?
A: I grew up in Massachusetts, but I’ve been living in the Chicago area for about 24 years. My wife and I are raising twin boys who sometimes show up in my pictures. I’m a freelance advertising copywriter by day.

Q: How did you get into iPhoneography?
A: Even before my iPhone, I always had a camera of some kind in my bag. When I saw what I could create on the iPhone, I started pulling out my other camera a lot less often. It’s the lightest, most inconspicuous camera I’ve ever owned.

Q: Can you recall the first iphoto you took that made you go WOW, I really got something here!?
A: The first shot that surprised me is one I took in Vancouver while I was shooting a commercial. It’s nothing more than a tourist shot really. Many people have taken this exact same shot. It’s of the Inukshuk in Stanley Park. But, I’ll include it to help make two points. First, that the camera doesn’t matter. Second, timing is as important as composition. Many people were taking pictures of the sun setting behind this sculpture that evening. But most of them put their cameras away after the sun dipped behind the horizon. I knew if I waited a few minutes later, the light would get even better. Sure enough, it did.


Q: What does iPhoneography mean to you?
A: It means I have something to do during my 50-minute train ride back and forth from the suburbs. And it’s a great way to learn about and practice photography.

Q: Do you have any formal training regarding photography?
A: I took a photography class in high school. And working in advertising, I’ve had the good fortune of working with and learning from some tremendously talented photographers, DP’s and directors. Enough to know I’ve got a long way to go to be in their league.

Q: Who or what are your artistic influences?
A: My earliest mentors were camp counselors, Doug Schmidt and Brian Mahoney. They were brilliant photographers who took and processed B&W photos for our camp yearbook. Those guys taught me how to develop my own film and make prints in the camp darkroom. Most importantly, they taught me how to tell a story in pictures. We had to shoot every imaginable sport, plus theater, hiking, spontaneous moments, individual and group portraits, and those all-important texture and detail shots. It was like photography bootcamp. I highly recommend shooting for a yearbook to anyone who wants to be a better photographer.

I love all kinds of photography. I find inspiration in the work of the old masters that others have already mentioned in past profiles, plus a diverse group of working photographers like Andreas Gursky, Steve McCurry, and Vincent LaForet. I once booked a particular hotel in Cabo because I saw some pictures that Pete Turner had taken. I knew it would be a cool place to shoot.

A few of my favorite iPhoneographers are listed in the “About Me” section of my Tumblr blog. There are too many to name, and the list is always expanding. I don’t want to miss anyone. The mobile phone photography community is amazingly inspiring, helpful, and generous. If you ever wonder how a particular image was made. Just ask. Nine times out of ten, the photographer will tell you exactly how they did it.

(Her and His)

Q: What have been some of the challenges of using the iPhone as a camera?

A: Using the iPhone as a camera is easy. Having it always with me is wonderful for capturing spontaneous images. But it can also be a distraction from what is really important… living in the moment. My wife sometimes has to remind me to put the phone down, and pay attention to my kids. I have to be careful not to get so focused on taking pictures of a moment that I forget to actually experience it.

But, I know your question is really trying to get at the limitations of the iPhone as a camera.

Its limitations make it a great learning tool. It teaches sound fundamentals. You don’t have to worry about whether or not the camera is on the right settings. Because there aren’t any. You can’t zoom, so you have to use your feet to get in the right position. You can’t control the shutter speed or the aperture, so you have to wait for the best light. And you can’t focus, or control depth of field, so you have to carefully compose your subject.

I use fancier Nikons and fast glass for certain things, but carrying them around my neck all day can be a pain. I don’t mind the iPhone’s lower resolution, and distortion. It gives the images character. File size has no bearing on whether or not an image is pleasing. I don’t think people go to museums just to look at paintings and sculptures above a certain size.

(Lady Liberty)

Q: What has been the most surprising or most predictable reaction from people to your iPhotographs?
A: Of course I hear, “I can’t believe you took that with your phone.” But, the best compliments are when people say, “I’ve walked by that spot a hundred times and never noticed that.” Or, “I saw that, too, but I never thought to take a picture of it.”

Q: What’s in your iPhone camera bag? Which one do you currently use the most often?
A: I have tons of photography apps. I’m always experimenting with new ones. I tend to gravitate toward simple, fast interfaces. I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom. The two I use most are CameraBag and Photogene. I also use LoMob, Camera+, PictureShow, PerfectlyClear, FilmLab, Mill Color, TiltShift. Tiffen Photo FX, Spica, and Montage.

Q: What other thoughts would you like to share?

A: I’d like to thank you, Edgar, for honoring me with this feature. I’ve learned about some talented people from your posts. I also want to thank everyone who has encouraged and supported me. From the “likes” on Tumblr to the RT’s on Twitter, to being shortlisted in the EYE’EM Award 2010, it makes me want to keep learning and keep shooting better images.

Also, I just swapped out my 3G for the iPhone 4. The camera is so much better, it kind of feels like cheating.

For more on T.S. check out these links:

Tumblr: TSElliott
Flicker: TSElliottPics
Twitter: @elliottts

Thank you T.S. for participating in this feature here on iPhoneogenic.tumblr.com and the iPhoneogenic Facebook Page. I am honored to have you on my blog.

Thank You!

All images shown here are copyrighted property of T.S. Elliott, please contact T.S. for copyright privileges.

© 2010 iPhoneogenic


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