Currently living in one of favorite cities, Chicago, Amy Hughes is a grand contributor to the iPhoneography community not only with her beautiful work but also providing words of praise. She is like a “Mom” to many iPhoneographers providing insight and encouragement, just like any lovely mother would do for her children.
It is with great pleasure that I bring you Amy’s iPhoneography story…
EC: Where are you from? Tell me about yourself?
AH: I was born in Boston, MA and grew up in the northern suburb of Billerica. I had a pretty typical childhood – one younger sister, two parents, numerous cats throughout the years. I attended a vocational high school in my hometown and then went to art school in Boston. Graphic design has been my career since then with a sideline here and there… most notably from 1990 to 1995 I was a music journalist interviewing everyone from Don Henley to Bob Geldof to Radiohead to my fellow Boston musicians. I met my husband (who lived in Chicago) online through AOL and moved to Chicago in 1996. I’m also currently a mom!
EC: How did you get into iPhoneography?
AH: My husband & I were disappointed with our cell phone carrier in 2009 and switched. The opportunity to have the iPhone seemed intriguing. I didn’t care to take photos with it until I joined Facebook in early 2010. Then I started to really see the potential to ‘share my vision.’ I started with some of the beginner apps: LOFI, Polarize and MoreLomo. My first big app purchase was CameraBag. From there, it all started to snowball.
EC: Can you recall the first iPhoto you took that made you go WOW, I really got something here!?
AH: This was among the first photos I took where I used an app to post-process (MoreLomo). I quite liked the effect of the vignette and the way the app could darken the tones and make the colors richer. I walked by this door so many times and suddenly it looked very different to me.
EC: How has social media such as Twitter helped or hindered the way you choose to share your work with others?
AH: Social media has been a great help, especially the iPhoneography community on Twitter. As the iPhone photo apps change and grow, that aspect of communication has been invaluable. Being able to share, collaborate and learn (pretty much on the fly) has taught me to stay on my toes.
EC: What does iPhoneography mean to you?
AH: Not having to wait for film to develop. I’m totally serious.
EC: Do you have any formal training regarding traditional photography?
AH: I majored in design and photography in both high school and art school. After that, I mostly took photos on my own and did more of it once I started into the music scene, either at gigs or at the request of musicians who wanted photography for publicity purposes. I did a lot of squinting… that’s pretty much it.
EC: What about your hometown is so special that it makes you what to capture it through your iPhone?
AH: Chicago just gives itself so easily, there is no question. Ask anyone, even the casual tourist passing through – there is a wealth of ‘interestingness’ to be photographed. Having the iPhone makes it fairly effortless not to be seen, which is how I prefer to operate.
(lock is the tree (ode to Edina))
EC: Who or what are your artistic influences?
AH: Artistically speaking, my influences are mostly musical… the biggest being The Beatles. There are of course the classic photographers whose work I have always admired: Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Avedon, Alfred Steiglitz and Edward Steichen. My rock n roll people would include Ethan Russell, Annie Leibovitz, Jim Marshall, Neil Preston, Bob Gruen and Linda McCartney.
EC: What has been the some of the challenges of using the iPhone as a camera?
AH: I’m more of a ‘close-up’ photographer, so I‘ve been challenged by the all-encompassing aspect (or drawbacks) of the iPhone. I’ve tried to develop that broadband of infinity within my desired compositions. However, with some of the apps like TiltShiftGen, I’ve discovered that I can manipulate the iPhone’s shortcomings to my advantage.
(light it (ode to Max))
EC: Has your work been published before, if so, where? Did you ever expect your work to be noticed by the iPhoneography community?
AH: My first iPhone photo was published online earlier this year. USA Today asked for submissions with a travel theme. Living in Chicago… that was pretty easy. After that, I thought maybe I could expand my horizons and started up at Flickr. I then placed second in a photojournalism challenge put together by Nacho Cordova at Foto-Rhetoric. After that I had no idea what to expect, who would comment or what the feedback would be. Let’s say I’ve been amazed at what has transpired since then!
EC: What has been the most surprising or most predictable reaction from people to your iPhotographs?
AH: Nothing is predictable in this day and age. One thing I must add (and many have) are the ‘You took that with an iPhone?’ comments. But the greater addition has been after that, people who wouldn’t have considered iPhoneography as an art form have gone out, downloaded the apps and gone crazy! Isn’t that the best compliment? I love getting that feedback more than anything.
(cloud gate swirl)
EC: What’s in your iPhone camera bag? What app(s) do you currently use the most often?
AH: Oh, dear. That dreaded question. I have about 40 photo apps. I think I’m fairly conservative! My most used are BlurFX, Hipstamatic, Tiffen’s PhotoFX and Pic Grunger. One basic app I think everyone should have is PS Express (just the Photoshop nerd showing through). My newest fave is definitely FXPhotoStudio. I’d use that on every shot if I could!
EC: Would mind sharing a workflow of a recent piece of iPhonographic work you have created with us and our readers?
AH: I’m not one to go post-processing crazy… I just can’t slave over an image. However, I have been experimenting in that direction. Since this post is during the holiday season, I have a shot from downtown Chicago, complete with decorations… formerly a fountain!
Step 1: The original.
Step 2: Opening the photo in PictureShow, I used the Cross filter, saved and re-opened then applied the Vivid filter.
Step 3: I really like BlurFX and the somewhat ambiguous nature it gives an image. So I used the Median choice and applied random spots of cleaning to the lights.
Step 4: Applied the CrossProcess app, a nice one-step retro feel.
Step 5: Pic Grunger is an app I’d use until the cows came home. Here I used the Creased option slightly toned down.
And that’s it!
EC: What other thoughts would you like to share?
AH: Thanks go to my husband first and foremost, who has been very giving in his support of my work. I want to thank all of the iPhoneographers who I have met in this last year, both online and in person. These people are an amazing source of inspiration to me as a visual artist. The wealth of gratitude I’ve felt has been nothing short of amazing. My trio of heroes who I was thrilled to meet – Daniel Berman, Jaime Ferreyros and Marty Yawnick – those guys just plain out rock. I also need to thank my other favorite people: Robert & Edina Herold, who have truly shown me a vision with their work that I certainly couldn’t have achieved on my own. To the ‘superman’ of our community, Aik Beng Chia… he makes you want to reach another level every day. And thank you Edgar for considering my words & pictures in your blog!
For more on Amy check out these links:
All images shown here are copyrighted property of the artist, please contact Amy Hughes for copyright privileges.