Featured Artist – Mel Harrison | @mahoganyturtle

For many artist who have lost their passion for the arts the iPhone has rejuvenated an urge to create once more. Still, others have had to give up their art form because of heath issues, in steps in the iPhone. For Mel Harrison who surfers from a hereditary peripheral nerve condition the iPhone has given her a resurgence to create and be creative. Mel’s works reflects that of nature and surreal dreams only conceived in such a brilliant mind. I’m often left in awe and wonder after viewing a new piece by Mel. Thank goodness for this device and this medium we refer to as iPhoneography because Harrison is a gifted and talented artist we should all get familiar with.

In my subconscious at ten past three

Stand by as Mel speaks for herself…

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

MH: I’m a stay at home mum to 4 boys ages 17 through to 3 years old, so life is always busy.

I live in NSW in Australia in our quaint little house overlooking the Wattigan Park Mountain ranges.

I am an artist, a dreamer, and an urban hippy at heart.


EC: How did you get into mobile photography/iPhoneography?

MH: Last year I was diagnosed with a hereditary peripheral nerve condition and I found using my Nokia with physical buttons was too hard on my hands so I went in search of an alternative. I posted on Facebook asking for opinions and the lines were divided down the middle between iPhone and Samsung galaxy.

It was the app store that swung me to the iPhone and I am glad it did. I started out with Hipstamatic, and after googling iPhoneography I found several blogs, iPhoneogenic included, and I was hooked.

A tutorial by Lindsey Thompson (a past featured artist) had me buying a macro lens within minutes of reading it, which started my love affair with macro iphoneography.

Then I found MobiTog.com, the members there are very friendly and encouraging, like a big extended family. I was honoured when I was asked to become part of the site staff team.

you lookin’ at me

EC: What does mobile photography/iPhoneography mean to you?

MH: I can not tell you how much iPhoneography means to me, it has filled such an important void in my life. I really would be lost without it now.

View from the train

EC: Can you recall the first iPhoto you took that you yourself were blown away by and made you pursue mobile photography/art more passionately?

MH: This would have to be wormhole, I use it a lot as my avatar because it really does represent the beginning of realisation that iPhoneography is the art form I have been searching for.


EC: Your images encompass many elements from layering textures and figures to shadows and graphics. Can you talk to me about the elaborate production behind your work?

MH: My work is extremely meditative to me, it is my stress relief so I do spend a lot of time emersed in the image. There are often many layers blended together to create a sense of depth and texture. I meander between apps and image blender and back again. For me the journey though an image is just as important as the final piece. It is about the only time I ever slow down and just enjoy the process of creating.


EC: How often do you work on your iPhoneography? Do you spend a numerous amount of time working and reworking your photos?

MH: I potter around in my ‘studio’ every evening when my kids are in bed, sometimes just playing with apps to see what they are capable of, most of these images don’t get shown publicly.

Most of the art images I produce do involve a large number of hours, nevermore for example was a 2 hour Juxtaposer session alone. Some pieces I finish in one session others take days of back and forth till I feel they are finished.

Time Warp

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

MH: Helped most definitely. iPhoneography is a social medium whether you like it or not, the internet is your ‘gallery’ and utilizing social media outlets brings your ‘exhibition’ to the people.


EC: Do you have any formal training regarding traditional photography?

MH: None what so ever, I was not very good with a traditional camera. If anything iPhoneography has taught me a lot that I could take back to traditional photography if I decided to go that way.

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. Carl Jung

EC: What types of subjects do you like to shoot?

MH: Flowers, insects, my kids, interesting people, textures, lines shadows, buildings I could go on. Iphoneography has made me see the beauty in things I would have not even noticed before. For example, working with apps like LensLight has actually made me more aware of natural light. I am constantly studying light now, watching how it naturally falls so I can hopefully apply LensLight filters in a natural way.

Is there something on my face

EC: Who inspires you? Who are your artistic influences?

MH: I am a surrealist at heart, this is the art that makes my jaw drop. Dali of course is someone who greatly influences me. I also have an affinity to the work of Escher. As far as iphoneographers are concerned in the surrealist category Chad Rankin (sirreal) is king of the field. Macro has to be Lindsey Thompson, Botanicals Catherine Restivo and Lisa Wadell, black and white I can’t go past a Bryan Pahia, I could go on and on, there are so many others I can’t possibly list them all.

Watching the train

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?

MH: I do, I spend a lot of time looking at the amazing work of other artists, I often open the iPhone Art gallery and meander through. If I am having a stubborn creative block I will pull right back on the need to create anything and will focus on the current challenges on MobiTog. Without fail I always end up with an image that goes on to becomes something I am really proud of.

In memory of those who stood before

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

MH: I would love to see some improvement in the physical limitations of the iPhone camera, better quality, optical zoom, better performance in low light, little things like that. It will happen, the technology will only improve. I am sure there will be a day when most people will take phone calls on their camera.

Bad hair day

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

MH: my work has been published on Pixels at an exhibition, iPhoneogenic, Life in LoFi, iPhoneography.com, iPhoneography Central, Createhive, and The App Whisperer. I have also had work physically exhibited in the USA, NZ, and Italy. I was selected as artist of the day and then artist of the month at iPhoneArt.com. I also had 10 images displayed at the LA-MAF exhibition in LA.

I really did not expect my work to be so well received, but what is even more satisfying is that artists I admire are now friends, iPhoneography really is a lovely, friendly community.

Soul Mates

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

MH: I’m always surprised when my images are received well, I guess that comes from creating for myself and anyone else liking it is just a delightful bonus.

don’t look at me I am hideous

EC: What’s in your iPhone camera bag? What are a few of your favorite apps that you’re currently using at the moment?

MH: I don’t have a great deal of apps 127 I think was last count and I don’t use all of them regularly. My top 5 has been the same for quite a while now:

Image blender

Storm raged overhead

EC: Where do you see iPhoneography/mobile photography in the future?

MH: I do see mobile photography becoming an accepted art form, I honestly don’t see the difference between taking a photo with a mobile camera then using apps, and taking a photo with a traditional camera then using photo shop, extra pixels don’t make a “better” image.

I would love to know what the motivation is behind the anti-mobile photography sentiments traditional photographers seem to have.


EC: Lastly, Do you mind telling us how you have created a recent piece of iPhonographic work from start to finish?


A: Refraction started with a photo of a telegraph pole it was taken in 6×6

B: I ran it though Color Lake, setting the horizon very high to cut out most of the scene and focus on the one pole.

C: Next step was Filtermania, I chose the old road filter which you can find in the scenery challenge folder. Straight after Filtermania I went into Image Blender to resize the image as Filtermania has a low resolution output.

D: In LensLight I added a light ray effect to the top right hand corner and saved in super high resolution.

E: Then it was off to Juxtaposer to add in some stamps I had previously saved. A bird, a pear and some abstract trees.

F: I added some grunge and texture via ScratchCam and then blended it back down with the original in image blender.

G: In Perculator I used a fine ground treble in sepia and once more went into Image Blender to adjust the intensity of the effect.

H: In Pixlromatic I chose the filter shine and the frame Lotus, then the image went back into image blender to mask out the pear that was hidden behind the lotus frame.

I: Finally I used iColorama to apply a glass filter with the sliders set at full


Thank you Mel, 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 Mel 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 Mel Harrison for copyright privileges.


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6 responses to “Featured Artist – Mel Harrison | @mahoganyturtle

  1. Really fantastic article! I’m a huge fan of Mel’s work. It’s really inspiring to see an artist’s process. Thanks for sharing that!


  2. Wow Mel! What a superb process with the image above. As I read each edit, I thought gosh that’s brilliant, then you added another twist and it took it to a new level!!! Very impressed :-) loved reading about you dear, thoroughly enjoyed it! Thanks Edi for your wonderful questions too :-)


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