May 13 2015

I wrote a while back about my experience at the Apple ‘Meet the iPhone Photographer‘ event in London. You can read about it here.

I got notification on Monday that the podcast went live. You can watch the full interview here or if you prefer you can listen to it. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id993249071

Choosing one image from Korea here today, but it is an image from last year. I cannot go too long with posting ordinary photographs. Every now and then I need to shake things up and put some punk rock in my photography. So here is a creation.

The pip-pop life span of worries

The pip-pop life span of worries

 

 

The iPhone image is from London. I enjoyed London so, so much. This was shot on the bridge to the right of Millennium bridge. Its name escapes me. The passerby didn’t.

Committed to the future

Committed to the future

 

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May 7 2015

Two days ago, on the fifth day of the fifth month my little boy James turned five. He fills my days with joy. Here we are together looking into a puddle, in a shot inspired by fellow Apple World Gallery photographer, Cielo De La Paz.

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Happy Birthday

 

This shot was taken last week with the Fuji X100T in London. Did not shoot a lot with this camera while in London. The iPhone was much more employed.

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The music may have stopped, but the dance continues

 

 

London

London

London

I have always liked London. I had my first experience there as a teenager living in Brixton and working in Putney. I have been back many times (read about my trip there last year) and passed through on transit to other locations and can honestly say it has always been positive. But without doubt the coolest memory I will have about London will be this moment when I  was walking down a crowded Regent’s Street on a sunny Tuesday evening last with Dan Rubin on our way to the Apple Store and arriving there and seeing a poster in the doorway with my name on it encouraging people to come to meet Brendan  Sé – the iPhone Photographer.  A really nice moment.

At the Apple Store, Regent's Street

At the Apple Store, Regent’s Street

I got to London on Monday afternoon after a short hop across the Irish sea. Cork is only a 55-minute flight to London. When travelling I try to avoid Heathrow as I never liked it as an airport, mainly because it always seemed to be under development. Thankfully, this now seems to have been completed and the new Terminal 2 that Cork flights arrive to and depart from is really impressive. I was met by a driver who brought from the airport right to the door of the hotel. It was great to to get to see parts of London I had not seen before. Most of my getting from A to B in London would have been underground so it was nice to see the city from the car as we made our way through London in rush hour on Monday evening.

South Kensington

South Kensington

The sponsors of the event – Knomo, London – were really great. The hotel – Citizen M –  they put me up in was one of the best I have stayed in. Situated in Southwark, it is only a short walk to the river and close to the Tate Modern also. What I really liked about this hotel, besides the very cool design and layout, was the great attitude of all the staff. They were always very helpful, friendly and upbeat. Nothing was too much hassle for them and more often than not, what you will return to a hotel is not for the design, comfort or location (all which this hotel has) but for the welcome and service you get. And on this count Citizen M scores highly.

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The bar in Citizen M hotel

Once I had settled into my room, I wanted to get out and hit the streets and get some photography in. I asked the guy on the front desk where would be a good place to head and he sent me in the direction of the river. Within five minutes I was in the heart of iconic London: St. Paul’s Cathedral, The River Thames, Tate Modern, The Millennium Bridge and the skyline of some of London’s most famous buildings lit up at night. Throw in all the passersby and I was in my element. I shot quite a few images with the iPhone.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral and The Millennium Bridge

After about an hour or so wandering around this area I headed back in the direction of the hotel, using the Shard building as a landmark. When I got back to the hotel, I went on a little tour of the floors and took in the very classy design of the hotel. I must have been a sight for some of the guests as I lay on my stomach getting a shot of the corridors.

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A traveller without observation is a bird without wings – Moslih Eddin Saadi

Before falling asleep I set the alarm for 7.30 and was woken by the at-first gentle sound of a ping-pong, which gradually got louder and as it did the lights in the room began to come on. A calming green light in the doorway first and then a faint orange shone through the glass walls of the bathroom.  Then the blind slowly rose to announce a sunny London morning. I wish I could wake like this every morning. It was so cool.

My plan was to get out and get among the Londoners on their way to work and to get some photography in. I wanted to see what the area was like in daylight. It was a beautiful sunny, but chilly morning. I headed towards the Millennium Bridge and joined the hundreds of others on their way to work. London is a beautiful city and when the sun shines – wow! I spent about ninety minutes out on the streets getting shots and enjoying the wonderful early morning atmosphere.

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Look!

After this, I headed back to the hotel and rested for a short while before heading back out to get in some more shooting. I was lucky with the weather. The sun was shining and I love to shoot into the sun to get the shadows and highlights that I like. I found this location and didn’t have to wait long to get passersby into the frame to get these two images. The black and white was shot with one of my favourite apps – 1-hour photo. If you have not tried this – then get yourself to the app store! It is a great little app for shooting black and white.

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South Bank

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South Bank (B+W)

One of the great things about being in big cities is that you have lots of streets and lots of people. Find yourself a good location and work that scene. Here is an example of this. I found this theatre – whose name escapes me at the moment – with this big hand and finger pointing down. Wait! The objective is to get a passerby in motion directly under that finger. I was lucky. My patience resulted in this gentleman dressed in a red coat and red runners walk past and I was ready to snap.

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HIM!

After about another ninety minutes or so, I made my way back to the hotel to meet Dan Rubin, who would be interviewing me later that evening. Dan is a famous designer and photographer and I was excited about the prospect of spending time with him, getting to know him a little better and learning from him. We had a great afternoon together getting to know each other and our conversation on photography was really engaging. Without any rush or stress, we made our way into Regent’s Street to the Apple Store and got backstage to do the final prep for the interview. I liked the way Dan operated. He is easy going and makes you feel relaxed. We had had a phone call the previous week and the structure of our talk was set out. During the afternoon, many of the things that would later come up in the interview, came up organically in our conversation and without purposely rehearsing, we had worked the talk through. This meant that by the time we took to the stage, I was relaxed and ready to enjoy this experience. Before this, we were met by Robin, the events manager at the Apple Store. He was overseeing everything and also taking some photographs of us backstage. Robin was a cool guy and I wish I had more time to chat with him. I enjoyed hearing his stories of shooting some big names who come into the Apple Store.

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Dan Rubin and myself

Then a little after seven we took to the stage. I was told the attendance was about 120 people. We sat on director’s chairs on stage and the talk went like this. To begin with, we talked about my photographic journey, and in particular the story of my Shot on iPhone image, that one that is on billboards and posters all around the world, and then moved on to talk about some of my favourite images taken with the iPhone under the categories of Street, Travel and Blur. After this, I showed some of my editing with images and the apps I use for this, and to round things off there was some time for questions and answers. The talk itself took just over an hour and it was enjoyable. Once I got over the initial little nerves, I actually really liked the experience. In fact, I made sure I did. I realised this kind of thing does not happen too often and the opportunity to talk about my photography is something to be enjoyed. It was well-received by the audience and Dan was very generous in his praise during and after the talk. I am looking forward to seeing the video podcast that Apple will release in a few weeks. Here are two images taken by a friend of mine in the audience.

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On stage

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On stage [2]

After the event, we all headed to a restaurant just off Carnaby St. A good opportunity to get to meet so many people and to see their images and hear their stories. Here is a fellow Irishman Gavin, a very interesting character who will go far in life, I am very sure. He is, as we say, a lovable chancer!

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Gavin Freeborn

I got back to the hotel some time after midnight, tired but happy. The next morning I got up early, checked out of the hotel (I was sad to leave this beautiful place) and got on a tube to meet Dan and Franco (the event’s sponsor) in Shoreditch. I had never been to Shoreditch before, but had seen a lot of great images from there, so I was excited to get the chance to shoot there. The only thing was that this morning it was lashing rain. After breakfast and saying goodbye to Dan and Franco, I intended to get in some shooting around the streets of Shoreditch, but it proved impossible as the rain was too heavy and I was not dressed for it. I took shelter in the doorway of a shop and to my surprise the shop assistants came out and invited me in to the shop; suggested I rest my bones on one of their sofas and asked me if I wanted the wifi password. How incredibly kind! Somehow, when I travel I tend to encounter the nicest of people. Once the rain let up, I got out to get some shots of Shoreditch. It is a place brimming with character and history and when I get back to London I most certainly will head back there. Here are a few of the shots I got there.

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Shoreditch

Shoreditch [2]

Shoreditch [3]

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Shoreditch [4]

 From Shoreditch, I went on a nostalgia tour to Brixton. I had not been back there in years, but really wanted to revisit where I had lived as an 18-year old boy. I had been told that it had been gentrified and become a trendy and hip place. To be honest, I did not notice that many changes. Perhaps it was the miserable weather, but it still looked a little run down and neglected. But then I just did a short tour of the market around the tube station and up to Sudbourne Road, where I had lived in the late 80s. Maybe, I did not get to see the newly-renovated and hip places. I got a nice lunch in a little cafe there and memories came flooding back to me of the sense of community there was in Brixton. I struck up a conversation with the guy sitting on the next table and we talked about football and Ireland. The lunch – lentil soup and a piri piri chicken wrap was lovely. By this time, the rain was easing and I got out and continued on my nostalgia tour. Cork people do nostalgia better than everyone.

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Sudbourne Road, Brixton (where I used to live)

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Brixton Market

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A Brixton lady

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Brixton Market [2]

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Brixton Market [3]

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Brixton!

From Brixton, it was back into the centre of London and back into sunshine. The rain had subsided and the sun was out and all was right with the world – well, at least from my perspective. I was on the streets in a big city and enjoying it to the max. I had time on my hands and I knew the type of shots I wanted to get and I knew where to get them. Here are some of those.

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Soho

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Isaac Newton

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The three of us

From the centre of London, I headed back to Southwark to collect my bag in the hotel and make my way to Heathrow. The Southwark tube station is a wonderful station, as can be seen in this image I shot of the reflections on one of the station walls.

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Leaving London (Southwark Tube Station)

And so my wonderful London adventure came to an end as I arrived in Heathrow to get the plane back home to Cork. I was leaving with such great memories and some good photos, I hoped. I would like to thank Dan, Franco and to all the kind people I met at the Apple event. You made it really special for me.

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Kiss the future…

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the iPhone Photographer

Writing the title to this blog piece finds me asking ‘Is that for real? Is that me?’ Apparently so. On Tuesday I will take to the stage in Apple Store in Regent Street with the great Dan Rubin, in an event sponsored by Knomo bags and accessories. I am really looking forward to this event, as you can imagine.

Preparing for this has been a great opportunity to reflect on my photographic journey and see where I have come from and what has brought me here.  Looking back at my early iPhone images I can see the things that caught my eye are pretty much the same. It is very cool to look back and see how my eye has developed and with it how my style has also evolved. Have had to choose some categories of images also to talk about and to select a few shots in each of these. This has been fun too, but as I always say – life is hard when there is choice. Narrowing down the sleection is not the easiest thing to do, but I am happy with the end result.

To say I am impressed with Dan Rubin would be a huge understatement. Of course, I had heard of him and was aware of his work, but I did not get to meet him until the Mojocon event in Dublin last month and like everyone else I was struck by how kind and humble this guy is. In preparation for this event he has been so professional and I am heading into this assured that everything is in place and that it will be fun.

Got to say that Knomo the sponsors have been so great also in arranging flights and hotels for me and sending me on some of their products. I have always had a case for my iPhones, but their quality never seemed to match that of the iPhone. The Knomo case is different. For the first time, I feel I have a case fit for the iPhone. It’s a snap on leather case and provides a great grip which is perfect for shooting.

 

They were kind enough to allow me to choose a bag also and I know I am repeating myself now, but life is easy when there is no choice. All the bags look so good. In the end, I went with my heart and selected one from their range called Kinsale. Being a proud Cork man, how could I have chosen anything else as Kinsale is my favourite town in Ireland. The bag is perfect for travel and the finish on it is so impressive. Looks cool and does a great job.

Kinsale bag from Knomo

Kinsale bag from Knomo

Knomo also make a great range of organisers and this one I like particularly as it has a mobile charger included: perfect for those longs days travelling or out shooting street. A big thanks to Knomo for these top class products.

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Knomo Organiser

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All set to go with my Knomo Organiser

 

So, all set for London! All set to take the stage with Dan Rubin. How cool!

London England

I love London. I lived there in the late eighties in Brixton, a part of London which then was a little run down, impoverished and home to many fellow immigrants, but a place with a wonderful sense of community. I had been buying my breakfast of a bottle of lucozade and a sandwich, and the newspaper in the shop outside my bus stop only about a week when the shopkeeper told me – “Pay me at the end of the week, mate!”. I was quickly welcomed to the community.

I recall many the happy night as a young teenager I spent in the Prince of Wales pub near the tube station drinking pints of lager, with the local communists trying to recruit me to the party. The closest I got to joining the party was one Sunday afternoon when they roped me into carrying their bucket of paste for posting their posters around Brixton. I had never known what the “Post No Bills” sign meant in public places, but when the police pulled up next to us, shouting at us, I quickly learned. I also quickly learned that my  new friends‘ idea of communism did not stretch to waiting with the young naiive Irishman who was left there literally carrying the can while they scarpered. Thankfully, the police left me off with a warning and I left my communist friends off with a “Well, fuck them!

But I have happy memories of my time living in London. It was my first time living away from home, fending for myself. I worked in an Estate Agent’s office in Putney, employed for a reason I could never make out. OK, I made the tea, ran the envelopes through the franking machine and spent the day chatting with the beautiful Sonia, whose desk was opposite mine, but I cannot remember ever having anything in particular to do. My boss, Sidney, was an old-school English gentleman. He was very kind to me. My first week there he wrote me a blank cheque and told me to go buy myself a new suit on my lunch break. Now, I say a new suit which would imply I had an old one. I hadn’t. I had a trousers, a shirt and tie and a jacket. They matched in the sense they fitted me, but I guess to Sidney’s eye they didn’t match. Walking down Putney High Street I checked out what kind of suits people were wearing. In 1987, suit jackets had lapels that stuck up like arrows. I bought a blue suit that day and it had those lapels.

When I got home that evening, back to the bedsit I shared with two other Cork lads, I stood proudly in front of the mirror and took a shot of myself in all my grandeur and a few weeks later when I had the roll of film developed I sent the photo back home to my parents with a letter recounting my new life in far-away London.

Writing this now, the memories of living in London are flooding back. There were two major incidents when I was there. I passed through King’s Cross the night of the fire, the tube speeding through the black of the smoke. 31 people died. Then there was the huge storm that the ruined the reputation of meteorologist Michael Fish who told us all nothing would happen. I slept through it (impossible to believe), but what destruction I encountered once I stepped outside. Years later, when reading Damien Hirst’s book, his comment about how people pass by huge trees every day and think nothing of them, then one day a storm comes and fells a tree and people are awestruck. That morning, sitting on the upper deck of the bus passing Clapham Common and seeing so many trees that the storm had uprooted had me awestruck. (None of Damien Hirst’s art has ever had me awestruck though.)

Returning to London is always a little trip down memory lane for me. Looking back as a middle-aged man and thinking that I was there as a naiive and homesick 18 year old amazes me. I was just a boy then. I see London now as an adult and see how it has changed. It is a magnificent city, full of life and when you can find a Londoner in this metropolitian city, you find a polite and cheerful person who takes time to give you directions.

Here is a little series of iPhone photographs I took while there. A big shout-out to my friend Mark T. Simmons who I met while there. This set is for you, Mark.

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Except acceptance

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Patrol

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Baker Street

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Hot stuff

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A smile

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The man in the know

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Everything everywhere

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The London Underground

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A Londoner

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Why me?

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Friendly Bus Driver

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London Underground

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Into Soho

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Coo coo cool!

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Passengers

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This nagging knowingness

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On-the-spot Parking Inspector

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Can you believe it?

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I hate that man

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Committed to the dance

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Me and Miranda

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Cool Brittania

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Miss Sixty