Robin Sweet is fairly new to the medium of iPhoneography. With less than half a year under her belt, Robin has manged to become of one of my “to watch for” artists in 2012. Her vision and techniques rival some of the best iPhone artists out there in the medium today.
(Written on the Body)
Let us, together, take a closer look at Robin’s work and thoughts…
Edgar C: Tell me about yourself?
Robin Sweet: I am a filmmaker (producer/production manager) living in Concord, MA with my husband and 12-yr old son.
EC: How did you get into iPhoneography/iPhone Art?
RS: We were on a family road trip last summer and I was stuck in the car for hours on end. My son was watching movies in the back seat and my husband was engrossed in an audio book. I had taken up photography a few months prior and my camera gear was tucked away in the trunk. So, I pulled out my iphone and started snapping photos out the window. From the first moment, I was hooked. I had PS Mobile on my phone. But no other apps. I started googling and found iPhoneography Central. I dove into the tutorials and began downloading apps. I signed up for Instagram and posted photos of the highway, the campfire, the pancakes, the Chesapeake Bay. Everything. The rest of the roadtrip went by in a flash! And my camera bag never left the trunk.
(Another Lonely Night)
EC: What does iPhoneography/iPhone Art mean to you?
RS: iPhoneography has absolutely changed my life. Corny, I know. But true. In my career, I am the money person, the “no” guy, the hatchett man. I’ve got to be on the ball, organized and unrelenting. I love my career but I’ve always been drawn to creative pursuits. I’ve been searching for balance. I’ve primarily been writing over the years but it has never failed to feel laborious. iPhonegraphy has given me a tremendously fulfilling creative outlet that is pure freedom and joy. Like the iphone fits in the palm of my hand, iphoneography fits in the palm of my life. My camera is always with me. I am always mindful of my surroundings looking for a shot. Apping is easily done over a morning cup of coffee or a stolen moment before bed. I’ve even apped in the bathroom to quiet my mind at work. I don’t know that I would have the same relationship to the process if I had to lug around my telephoto or sit at my desk everytime I wanted to photoedit. This ease gives me freedom to experiment, make mistakes, try a new app for 99c. It’s brilliant. And it crosses a line between photography and art which has been tremendously fun to explore.
EC: Can you recall the first iPhoto you took that made you go WOW, I really got something here!?
RS: The first photo that made me go “WOW” was one of those first photos from the roadtrip. I’d been running photos through filters, but this photo was the first one where I experimented with layers. It’s a classic shot of electric towers out the car window. It wasn’t moody enough for my tastes. It was raining. So I snapped a photo of the windshield and apped it to death. Then layered the two shots. When I saw the result, it was striking. I knew there was something here for me. It seemed the possibilities of iphoneography were endless. I’ve never been a big fan of reality. And now I could alter it at will. The tools were right there at my finger tips.
EC: How often do you work on your iPhoneography? Do you spend a numerous amount of time working and reworking your photos?
RS: I work on my iPhoneography every day. The amount of time varies depending upon my other obligations. But rarely does a day go by that I’m not shooting, editing, learning a new app, or perusing Flickr. It’s a daily connection for me. The amount of work I put into each photo varies. Sometimes it comes to me with great ease. And I’ve got it in a matter of moments. Sometimes, I work on it for a few days or or a week or throw it in a Work In Progress folder to revisit later. Rarely though, do I go back and do anything with those photos. For me the moment has passed, the inspiration lost and I’ve emotionally moved on.
For a while I did a 365 and I was posting photos quickly, not belaboring them, not worrying about whether they were good or bad. I was just trying to get a feel for the process and learn how to put my work out there without judgement. I’ve recently abandoned that project as I started to crave a little extra time for the work and wanted to get out from under the pressure to post daily. But for the time I pursued my 365, it was immensely helpful in learning alot about iPhoneography in a very short period of time.
EC: How has social media such as Twitter and Instagram helped or hindered the way you choose to share your work with others?
RS:Through social media, I have built a wonderful community of iPhoneographers who support and inspire me on a daily basis. It has been wonderful to get to know other artists and to witness the progression of their work. I have an offline dialogue with many of them, and they offer me constructive feedback and challenge me to grow. There certainly is a good deal of affirmation to be found through social media and I’m thankful for the boost it can provide. However, when someone takes the time to write me and say that a particular photograph has touched them or they identify with the emotion of a piece, I find that to be more rewarding than 100 likes or faves.
EC: Do you have any formal training regarding traditional photography?
RS: Oh no. I wish! I would love to study photography. I am a good student! I picked up a camera last year, 2 weeks before we went off to Peru. I had patience and a manual. Since then, I have developed quite a library!
I can say I have taken two wonderful iPhoneograpy classes at TCI with the wonderful Laura Pieschl. She is a gifted teacher who gave me invaluable inspiration and confidence and demystified many many apps!
EC: What types of subjects do you like to shoot?
RS: For good or bad, I shoot it all. I am driven by mood. I can be as inspired by street photography as I am by abstracts. It’s whatever moves me in the moment. I think that perhaps over time, I may narrow down. But for now, I am content to explore and not force any limitations upon myself.
(Dead Man Walking)
EC: Who inspires you? Who are your artistic influences?
RS: In the iPhoneography world, there are many inspirations. Laura Pieschl, as I’ve mentioned. Carlein, Alan Kastner, Roger Guetta, Karen Divine, JQ Gaines, Sion Fullana, Souichi, to name a few. Michael Kenna, Man Ray, Mapplethorpe and Weston are the photographers I’ve been looking at lately. As well as Pollack, Picasso, Matisse, Rudin. But these inspirations vary depending on what I am working through or wanting to focus on for myself. There is always so much to learn and draw from!
EC: When you’re in a creative block what do you do to break out if it? Do you look at the work of other iPhoneoographers to be re-inspired?
RS: When I am in a creative block, I stop apping! Then, I shoot and shoot and shoot until I get that shot that makes me want to sit down again and create. I don’t tend to look at other iPhoneographers when I am in a block. Instead, I look back at other photographers or artists, or go to a museum or read poetry. Anything that will get me feeling again…
(In the End)
EC: Has your work been published before, if so, where? Did you ever expect your work to be noticed by the iPhoneography community?
RS: Not in a million years would I have guessed that I would have anything to list here. But yes, my work has been featured on the various iphoneography sites: iPhoneography Central, Life in Lofi, iPhonegraphy.com and Pixels. I exhibited in the International Iphoneography Show in New York and have a peice in the upcoming iPhoneography Miami 2012. Additionally, I am incredibly honored to have recieved an MPA and look forward to participating in the gallery tour.
EC: What’s in your iPhone camera bag? What are a few of your favorite apps that you’re currently using and which ones don’t you like?
RS: I absolutely love Snapseed, Lo-Mob, Photocopier, Noir, Photostudio FX, Scratchcam, Phototoaster. And of course, Juxtaposer & Blender! Lately, I have been exploring Sketchbook Pro and King Camera. I don’t like any of the apps that only save at low resolution though it seems these are becoming few and far between. There also some great apps out there that require a square crop. That makes me prickly!
(Drowning, Not Waving)
EC: Where do you see iPhoneography/mobile photography in the future?
RS: I’m hoping that in the future iPhoneography is not such a big deal. And what I mean by that is that it’s just another tool for creating powerful images. My desire is for these images to find an audience beyond the online community and in the galleries and museums alongside other art forms.
EC: Do you mind telling us how you have created a recent piece of iPhonographic work from start to finish?
Original Photo: This was shot with Hipstamatic in a swampland back behind my house. I usually prefer to shoot with the native camera app. But for landscapes I love to experiment with Lomora2 and Hipstamatic because they impart such great light & mood.
Step 1: I was intrigued by the shape of the tree and knew I wanted to isolate it. So I cropped in Crop Suey. And ran it through the High Key BW conversion in Photostudio FX. In Retouch I cleaned up any surrounding brush so that the tree stood alone. Now I had the kernel of an idea. Often I have an end result in mind, but this photo was pure exploration. So the following steps emerged through much experimentation and many false starts!
Step 2: In Lo-Mob (by far my favorite app!), I ran it through the Slide filter. I turned off the photo filter so just the original BW was preserved. In retrospect, I wish I’d turned off the vignette because I ultimately cleaned it up later.
Step 3: A direction was beginning to emerge in my mind. I wanted to replace the numeric text on the frame with something more organic. I keep a folder of bits and bobs that I collect along the way. I pulled out some Japanese calligraphy and painted that on the frame. I wish I could have drawn it myself. There is a great app called Zen Brush that I would love to experiment with!
Step 4: In Juxtaposer, I overlaid the image from step 2 over the image in step 1 to create the full composition. I also cleaned up the vignette through Retouch.
Step 5: I ran the image from Step 4 through Pic Grunge. Using the “Wrinkle” Texture. I also made a few versions with the “Pulp” Background. Then blended these through Blender several times to “weather” the calligraphy and balance the composition. I also wanted give the wrinkled texture a bit more nuance. Even though it was applied at a very low setting, it can still be quite overpowering.
Step 6: I then processed in Photocopier to unify the piece and give it a grayish, weathered tone. Unfortunately, I can’t remember exactly which filter I used. But I usually gravitate to the filters under “Process”. They yield amazing black & white versions with great textures and the results can be tweaked with sliders. I often use Photocopier for just this purpose: to bring a piece together in the final stages.
EC: What other thoughts would you like to share?
RS: I’d like to say thank you Edi for your contribution to the iPhoneography community and for the honor of participating on your blog!
For more on Robin check out these links:
All images shown here are copyrighted property of the artist and are published on all iPhoneogenic outlets with the consent of the artist, please contact Robin Sweet for copyright privileges.
Published by: Edgar C. 01/17/2012