The next in our series of interviews is with Janine Graf. I first saw Janine’s work on Flickr in the Fall of last year. I stumbled across a series of carnival rides – totally creative and colorful with awesome funny titles. I thought “Wow, this woman is something else”…and she certainly is. Her images range from flowers to rural and street scenes, portraits to surrealistic pieces. I have become a big fan of Janine’s work. Her clever, self-deprecating sense of humor is great and she’s always a cheerleader for her fellow iPhoneographers. If you aren’t familiar with her (which you probably are and/or should be!) check out her Flickr page (link below) and have a good look…you won’t be disappointed. She has had several exhibitions and has more amazing shows coming up including a three-month museum show in the South of France this summer. Very exciting stuff!
Now let’s hear from Janine…
Jennifer Bracewell: Tell me about yourself? Where are you from?
Janine Graf: I am a stay-at-home mom living in Redmond, Washington, which is a suburb east of Seattle. I have two sons ages 18 and 10, and a husband who often wears mismatched socks to work because I’m too busy working on photography to be bothered with doing laundry (that reminds me, I need to buy more socks). I like belly dancing, coffee, hiking, the color orange, movies about gladiators, bacon, taking photos (of course), olives and laughing loudly with my girlfriends. Oh, and I make a white chocolate bread pudding that will bring you to your knees!
JB: How did you get into iPhoneography/iPhone Art?
JG: I bought my first iPhone 3GS in August of 2009, which was around the same time that I was starting to really get excited about my hobby of photography. However, I never thought to use it as a camera. The first app I installed (and was my only app for months) was one where you could fry virtual bacon, complete with sizzles!
The camera I was using at this time was a Kodak Easyshare point and shoot. That camera took some amazingly clear images, however I quickly grew frustrated with the lack of its abilities; I wanted bokeh and DOF, wanted to take macro images of flowers; I wasn’t going to achieve it with that point and shoot. In December of that same year I bought a Canon DSLR and a macro lens and everything changed! I took that giant, heavy, spine compressing (I swear I’m two inches shorter now) DSLR with me EVERYWHERE. No flower was safe from my shutter! I joined Flickr in February 2010 and had so much fun uploading my bokeh rich macro floral shots and “meeting” other photographers who shared my passion for floral photography. In the meantime I downloaded the Hipstamatic to my iPhone and proceeded to pretty much forget about it.
I had a wonderful flower filled summer … and then IT happened; fall. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the fall! I get giddy over Halloween and orange is my favorite color; all the trees ablaze with orange, yellow, red and bronze leaves; glorious! I took advantage of the fall colors for a while, and then they were gone … and so were the flowers … and the rest of the Halloween candy stash I was hiding in the kitchen pantry. For the first time I actually found myself depressed over a change in season. I’d buy bouquets of flowers and try to shoot them in my kitchen, but the lighting either sucked or the flowers available at the market weren’t quite right, or what have you. I know, excuses, excuses. ;-)
While at the grocery store, depressed about the lack of color in my life, they were running a special on tulips. I LOOOOOVE tulips! Remembering that I had the Hipstamatic on my iPhone, I discreetly took my iPhone out (looking this way and that for someone in management to stop me – I had gotten scolded by store management A LOT when my DSLR was slung around my neck) and quickly took a shot of the tulip display. Gotcha! I’ve been pretty much taking images solely with my iPhone ever since. My spine is very thankful too.
(Let’s Be Free)
JB: What does iPhoneography/iPhone Art mean to you?
JG: Freedom. I know it’s been said a million times, and there’s a reason for that; my iPhone is always with me. Back when I was using my DSLR solely I’d too often miss so many potentially wonderful shots because by the time I took the lens cap off and adjusted the ISO and f/stop, my moment of opportunity was gone. I don’t know Photoshop or Lightroom and at the time when I was solely using my DSLR, my laptop was pretty much only capable of operating MS Word and sending email (I now use a MacBook Pro … and have yet to install Photoshop because now I have no use for it). With all the incredible editing apps available for the iPhone, I hold in the palm of my hand a virtual darkroom: saturation, color, texture, contrast, distortion, you name it, all at my command! It has changed everything, for so many artists. It’s a wonderful thing! Plus it’s nice not to be scolded by store management anymore.
(Thank you for making us number 1)
JB: Can you recall the first iPhoto you took that made you think “WOW, I really have something here”?
JG: In June of 2010, my family and I were at the local koi and pond store looking for a new koi fish to purchase (to replace the one that was snagged by a koi grubbing blue heron b*stard!). We picked out a small black koi and I was examining him in this plastic blue tub. The sun was shining on the blue tub and our chosen fish was swimming around the edge, creating this wonderful ripple that was glistening in the sunlight. I took a quick Hipstamatic shot and then put my iPhone back in my purse and basically forgot all about it. It wasn’t until months later, when I revisited that image, that I realized it was pretty freakin’ sweet. That was around the same time I had taken the grocery store tulip image (which I loved), but it was that image of our koi fish, Tom (great koi name don’t you think?), that made me literally think, “WOW!”
JB: How often do you work on your iPhoneography? Do you spend a lot of time working and reworking your photos?
JG: To the dismay of my family and friends, every day. Sometimes it gets on their nerves because they feel I should be paying attention to them and not taking pictures. I know, selfish right? But I forgive them because that’s the kind of person I am. ;-) I wouldn’t say a spend a lot of time working and reworking a photo. Most of the time I’ll only use two or three apps and be happy with the result. Other times, however, I’ll work on the same image for hours, have 50 or more different versions saved because I’m just not satisfied; “I can make this better!” It eventually will get to the point where I need to just let it go already and call it done. I do most all my photo editing while in the bathtub; chin deep in bubbles! People call me crazy because of the obvious risk of plunking my precious iPhone into the water, but I have an ironclad grip. By the end of my soak my skin resembles a raisin, I have a new image and my arm is numb from the elbow down.
(The Long Walk)
JB: How has social media such as Twitter and Instagram changed the way you share your work with others?
JG: Well, I don’t use Twitter (I have an account but I created it only so I could follow Angry Santa Elf – hilarious!) and my Instagram account is set to private and is visible to only one girlfriend and vice versa. We take embarrassing images we like to call “The Keeping It Real” series. Subjects no respectful, mature woman would want the general public to see: piles of dirty laundry, dirty dishes in sink, etc. I am, however, very active on Flickr and IPA. I’ve met some really wonderful people, from all over the globe, whom I now call friend thanks to these websites making the world a smaller place. I am particularly thankful to IPA. When it became obvious on Flickr that I was only uploading iPhone images, I received quite a lot of grief from my DSLR contacts. I couldn’t understand why they cared so much about my new tool of choice. DSLR, point and shoot, mobile phone; what does it matter how the image was captured? If you like it, great, tell me so. If not, that’s fine, just please don’t aggressively tell me to put the iPhone down to start using my “real” camera again. It got pretty bad for a while and I’ve lost some original Flickr contacts in fact. One day I Googled, “good iphone photography sharing sites” and came upon iPhoneart.com (IPA). I was thrilled, literally ecstatic, to find an entire sharing site dedicated to the iPhone image. Ahhhhh … finally. I’m among my peeps here!
(A Handsome Young Man in a Knit Hat)
JB: Do you have any formal training in photography or art?
JG: I do not. I’m actually an art school dropout. Not proud of that. I moved to Seattle from Maui, HI in 1988 specifically to go to art school. I had / have family in Seattle and I needed to do something with my life besides windsurfing during the day and waitressing at night (I was a terrible waitress btw). I was enrolled in art school for three weeks before realizing I wasn’t cut out for it; drawing nude figures with charcoal did NOT come naturally for me. Those were humbling days (shudder). Although I believe I’m a fairly decent oil painter (my mom teaches oil painting and I’ve painted with oil since I was six years old), the art school setting was not for me. Regarding photography, I would love to take a formal class someday, however, and this may sound weird, I’m almost afraid it’ll somehow ruin it. Photography, particularly composition, comes really naturally to me. When friends find out I haven’t had any training they always look and sound surprised. I’m afraid that if I start being taught about “the rules” of photography that my brain will take them all too literally and I’ll lose my natural mojo … plus I’m afraid that somehow math will be involved; math and I do not have a friendly relationship. ;-)
(Geometry for the Math Impaired)
JB: What types of subjects do you like to shoot?
JG: Everything but myself! I am seriously, near crippling, camera shy and I have no idea why. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, I love to shoot flowers. There’s a community neighborhood garden up the street from my house and I take advantage of that often. In the late summer the flower boxes are littered with cosmos and poppies; I spend a lot of time squatting and/or lying down in that garden. I love taking pictures of my coffee too. I enjoy taking pictures of my coffee almost as much as drinking it. I am drawn towards anything with color and texture; or shadow and light … I’m an equal opportunity subject lover.
(Leave a Light On)
JB: What about your hometown or surroundings is special and makes it interesting for shooting iPhone imagery?
JG: Seattle is beautiful! We have the ocean and lakes, we have mountains, we have amazing wildlife (even the koi grubbing herons have a place in my heart). Due to all the rain we receive we have incredibly lush and green vegetation, everywhere! Thanks to the heavy rains in spring we have tulips and other flowers exploding in every direction. And then there’s downtown Seattle, where we have the famous Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. I take a lot of shots while hanging out around Pike Place Market on weekends. Wonderful people watching in downtown Seattle as well. One thing I want to work on is street photography. I just need to get over my fear of upsetting someone who catches me taking their pic when they don’t want it taken; I need to learn to be stealth. Maybe I’ll take a Ninja class … wait, do Ninjas do math? ;-)
(Public Market Sunbeams)
JB: 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 get inspired?
JG: Oh this happens so often and is so frustrating! Usually the best thing for me to do is to resign myself to the fact that I am in a creative slump; just accept it. At times I’d become stubborn and try to work through it, but that only made me upset and anxious. This is *supposed* to be fun, why am I allowing myself to become so anxious?! So when this happens I just take a break, do some much needed laundry, pick up a book, go for a walk, etc. I usually find that within a day or two of not dwelling on it my mind will become clear and I can start creating again. Looking at other iPhoneographer’s work really helps a lot too. I am so amazed at what is being produced by all the different artists in the community. Such a wealth of inspiration!
(Meet Me at Sled Hill)
JB: Has your work been published before? If so, where? Did you ever expect your work to be noticed by the iPhoneography community?
JG: Very excited to answer “yes!” to this question! I have had my iPhoneography images featured on the various iPhoneography blogs and exhibited in art galleries across the US and even in Europe. My first exhibit was at the MMS Gallery in Philadelphia, PA in July of 2011 for their Food & Drink Exhibit. Greg Schmigel commented on one of my many coffee images, suggesting that I submit for this exhibit. That’s when it all began, exhibiting wise. Shortly thereafter I had my iPhoneography exhibited in various art galleries: ArtsEye Gallery in Tucson, AZ; the Pixel This Exhibition in Battersea Park, London; at The International iPhoneography Show located at The SoHo Gallery for Digital Art, in NYC, and am currently a proud participant in the first annual iPhoneography exhibit at Artspace Gallery Miami in Miami, FL. That one, to be honest, took me by surprise. They were only selecting 25 images for that exhibit and being realistic I did not believe I had a chance that one of my three images would be selected. I can tell you that I did not sleep the night I learned I had been accepted. I just received word that an image of mine has been selected for the iSpy: Camera Phone Photography exhibit at The Kiernan Gallery located in Lexington, VA. And last, but not least, I am extremely excited at the news that one of my images from the ArtsEye Gallery exhibit will be heading to the Le Pavillion Populaire (which is a museum) in Montpellier, France in July and will be on exhibit through October 2012. This exhibit at Le Pavillion Populaire is an extension of the ArtsEye exhibit in AZ. When I started getting serious about my iPhoneography I never would have imagined that one day an image of mine would be hanging in a museum … in France! I’m just this goofball, mathematically challenged, middle aged woman living in the burbs of Seattle … it blows my mind! And no, I also never expected in a million years to be noticed by the iPhoneography community in general. What an absolute ride this has been!
(Pinky and the Brain)
JB: What has been the most surprising or most predictable reaction from people to your iPhotographs?
JG: “You DID NOT take that picture with your iPhone!!” I love that!
(One Step and the Next Gets You Where You’re Going)
JB: What’s in your iPhone camera bag (apps)? What are a few of your favorite apps that you’re currently using and which ones don’t you like?
JG: I have so many I have loaded onto my phone but my all-time faves and the ones I use most consistently are ScratchCam, BlurFX, Iris Photo Suite, King Camera, Snapseed, Camera+, and Hipstamatic. The ones I don’t care for and won’t waste my time with are the ones that won’t save in high res. Oh, and decim8! I cannot for the life of me figure out how you make this app work for you Jennifer! Whenever I see a great abstract more times than not I learn that decim8 was involved somehow. How?! How on earth do you get this app to produce something viable?!
(My note: Janine, it’s a tricky one…layering back with the original works for me, sometimes :)
(No one, not even the best man, had to tell Harvey that his bride was an artichoke)
JB: Where do you see iPhoneography/mobile photography going in the future?
JG: I believe that in the future iPhoneography will rise above all the negativity it seems to generate (from old school film and/or DSLR users who claim they are the only ones using a “real” camera) and get the respect it deserves. My current iPhone4 camera has more megapixels in it than my old point and shoot “real” camera, yet no one gave me grief about using that device. I believe we’ll see a huge boom in exhibitions and “calls to artists” being made available as the popularity spreads. No one can deny that some pretty amazing images are being created with this wonderful little device. I had a great compliment not long ago from one of my Flickr contacts who happens to be a diehard DSLR user. He said, “My dear, I see no reason for you to ever pick up your Canon ever again.” Validation! That made me smile.
(On the Farm)
JB: Do you mind telling us how you have created a recent piece of iPhonographic work from start to finish?
JG: Step 1: Here’s an Instagram image I took last summer and wanted to revisit because it was snowing outside and cold and windy and I was longing for summer. The image itself is fine, but I wanted to have some fun with it.
Step 2: I cropped out the border in Snapseed and then put it in BlurFX. I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to take with this image, but I always figure BlurFX is a good way to start. I used the “median” blur setting at almost full strength and only brought the two people and kite back into focus.
Step 3: Since I am a total and complete ScratchCam junkie, I put the blurred image into ScratchCam and just played with different random effects until one jumped out at me. I really liked the green color and subtle scratches on this one.
Step 4: Even though I had taken out the border of the original image, I realized I wanted a border for this, an ‘old time’ feel, and I knew right where to go. I put the image in Lo-Mob and used the “Slide 2 Warmer” effect with the vignetting and process blur turned off. This now reminded me of an old slide taken way back during my childhood.
Final step: Although I liked THIS version enough, I wanted to put it through ScratchCam one more time (because I’m a junkie after all) and used one of their new-ish folded paper filters. I brought the strength of that one down just a bit so it wasn’t too overwhelming and color depleting.
And here we are … “Remember summer”!
JB: What other thoughts would you like to share?
JG: I want to thank you for this opportunity Jennifer. It was really a lot of fun!
JB: Thank you! My pleasure entirely!
Thank you, Janine, for participating in this feature here on iPhoneogenic, our Facebook Page, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to get to know more about you and honored to have you share your work here on the blog.
For more on Janine check out her Flickr page:
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 Janine Graf for copyright privileges.
Published by: Jennifer Bracewell. 02/06/2012