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…

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

April 25 2015

Two more shots from the short trip to Tokyo again today. I was there for only four days and it rained so much. The first time I had been in Tokyo it also rained a lot. Being a real Irishman, I never feel the need to get an umbrella. Umbrellas and rain gear are really just for tourists when they come to Ireland. The rain in Ireland comes mainly in showers and having to carry an umbrella around is a pain in the ass, to be honest. But in Tokyo when it rains, it seems like it never ends. Back in 2012, when I met Michael Kistler one of the first things we did together was to enter a convenience store and to my surprise Michael bought me an umbrella – a transparent one. OK, I thought. Why not?

Now when I am in Tokyo I make sure to get a transparent umbrella. Why? Because it allows me to get these beautiful shots of Tokyo through the transparent umbrella. Here is one of those I got in 2012.

This one I am posting today was shot on the Fuji X100t on an early Friday evening in Shibuya. I like the girl making eye contact on the right of the frame.

Keeping Dry in Tokyo

Keeping Dry in Tokyo

The iPhone image was shot on a Saturday morning – when it was not raining – in Ginza, which to my surprise has the main street pedestrianised at weekends. I had been in Ginza a few times, but had never really liked it that much in comparison to other Toyko districts. But being able to wander around the street unencumbered by traffic was a great experience.

I am always drawn to lines (pun intended). I found these diverging lines and I knew how I wanted to compose the image. I wanted a couple to approach and part on either side of these lines. Now, this is much easier to imagine in the inside of my head than to actually occur, what with me lingering on the line waiting to snap the approaching passersby. I had to pretend I was talking on the phone. I saw this couple approach and like so much of photography – patience met luck and as they came to the line they parted and walked on either side of the line. Click! I got the shot.

This divide between us will be filled with love or loss

This divide between us will be filled with love or loss

 

April 15 2015

Things on my mind today:

1. Fuzziness – after a marathon journey  26-hour home from Tokyo, I am super jet-lagged.

2. I am behind in the work I need to do.

3. I have so many images to work through and so far it looks like I will be doing a lot of deleting.

4. That is normal.

5. First impressions in photography, should not be taken too seriously .

6. To be confirmed….

Here is an iPhone photograph of my photo on a billboard in Harajuku, Tokyo. It was a beautiful experience to see my image in different locations around Tokyo. Unbelievable to actually believe I have a photograph on display in Tokyo.

Harajuku, Japan

Harajuku, Japan

I got my Fuji X100t back from the repair shop. Well, actually a new one to replace the old one. I used it a lot in Tokyo and had fun. I should update my review some time soon. This one had me in a dilemma – black and white or colour. My jet-lagged head says colour. Might change to black and white upon readjustment.

Shibuya, Tokyo

Shibuya, Tokyo

News: I won the Mira Mobile Photography Prize. Super happy, as you can imagine. Thanks to all for the kind words and congratulations!

April 3 2015

Things on my mind today:

How love changes like a song heard in the wind; sometimes faint, sometimes strong, but always heard;

Believe – achieve! Kiss this future…

Committed to the future

Committed to the future

Trees need to cheer the fuck up

Trees need to cheer the fuck up

The Story of my ‘Shot on iPhone’ Photograph (Milan)

A week has passed since I last posted an update to this wonderful story. In this time, I have seen or been sent by friends images of my photograph on display on billboards or posters from cities all over the world: Santiago, San Francisco, Yokohama, Bógota, Bangkok, Berlin, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Berlin, Boston, Philadelphia, Hamburg – the list goes on. And I can say that it still is the most amazing thrill. Nothing I could ever have dreamed up. My photo on billboards and posters all over the world! And now the print campaign is starting too.

Seeing the image pop up in cities across the world and being sent photos of friends standing next to it has been so cool, but I had to see it for myself to believe it; I had to see it with my own eyes. A few days into the campaign my wife encouraged me to travel to get to see it. The options in Europe were Berlin, Hamburg or Milan. I had previously been to Berlin and Hamburg, so Milan it was. Checking airlines, I saw that Ryanair had an early morning flight out of Dublin into Milan on Saturday 14th and a late evening one back the following day. I booked it there and then. The only downside to this would be that I was travelling on my own. We have two small kids and no babysitter at the moment. So it looked like I would have to travel on my own. Luckily, my sister who lives in Dublin got on to us and offered to mind the two kids for the weekend so as to allow myself and my wife to go together. We were delighted.

Cork is about a two and half hour journey to Dublin. We left around 7 in the evening, arriving in Dublin at about 9.30. The kids slept most of the way up, but woke with excitement when we arrived in my sister’s house. After some time getting them to settle, we went to bed too. After getting very little sleep we were back on the road heading to the airport at 3.30 in the morning on our way to Milan to see my photograph on a billboard.

A little after 12 p.m, we arrived at our apartment. Our host gave us a map of Milan and my wife, who can read these things, worked out our route to where the billboard was. We would need to take the metro and change at one station and then exit at Moscova station on Corso Garibaldi in the centre of Milan. We were getting closer. The trip there took about twenty minutes and when we exited the metro station on to Corso Garibaldi we were unsure whether to take a left or right turn. Fabio, a guy I had met on Twitter had previously sent me  an image from there, so we had some idea of where to look for it, but take the wrong one and we could be traipsing this long street that runs through the centre of Milan for ages. We could not believe our luck when we turned right and within a matter of seconds we saw it. There it was. My photograph – huge on a billboard! We both looked at each other in amazement. I reached for the camera and began to click.

Corso Garibaldi, Milan

Corso Garibaldi, Milan

The billboard was located in  a little area with a newsagent’s kiosk and some benches for people to sit – and admire my photo :-).  We got down there and surveyed the area, walking all around, trying to see it from different angles. It was very cool to observe people passing by looking up at the image as it got their attention. I had in mind before coming to get a shot of myself standing in front of the billboard with my iPhone in hand showing the original image on the iPhone next to the billboard, to convey the idea of ‘from a screen of four inches to a billboard in a major world city’.

Now, like many ideas this is all very well in concept, but to convert this to reality can prove tricky. My wife is a very patient woman. For the longest time, she tried. What I wanted was to have the iPhone to the right of the billboard, showing the original image and the scale. But to get them both in focus was difficult and to avoid a glare from the iPhone was also not so easy.  One I particularly like is the one below. I think she managed a fine job in getting this one of the scene.

Milan

Milan

Nowadays, selfies are obligatory and while I may not be the biggest fan of them, I think I am entitled to get one on an occasion like this.

Me and my photo

Me and my photo

While we were there a few people stopped to take shots of the photo and normally, I would not be the most boastful of people, but I could not help myself in asking if they liked the photo and to tell them that I was the photographer. ‘No!?’ they replied. ‘Yes!’, I replied, showing them the original. One guy, Marco, even took a photo of me under the image.

After that, we set about seeing as much of Milan as we could in the short time we were there. Travelling with a photographer must be like having a dog on a long lead. You think they are next to you and then turn around and see they are miles back, perhaps not sniffing a lampost like a dog, but there they are, camera in hand trying to get that shot. How she puts up with me I do not know. I know I would not be as patient. We got to see sights, Duoma, Galleria Vitoria Emanuele, La Scala theatre, Sforsa Castle and we spent the evening in Navigli, which is a really cool area, before heading back to see the main attraction in Milan; this time to see it lit up at night.

We only realised it would be illuminated when my wife saw another ‘shot on iPhone‘ photo near our apartment all lit up. With great excitement we got back to Corso Garibaldi and seeing it in the dark of night brightly lit up was something I will always remember. We found a cafe with window seats that allowed us to look out directly at the billboard. It was very cool when the waitress seeing me with three cameras set up facing the billboard asked if I liked it. She was so surprised when I told her it was mine. She called the other waiter to tell him also. I got many shots and little videos while there. This was the easily the highlight of the trip, sitting with my best friend and love of my life and sharing this magical experience.

All lit up in Milan

All lit up in Milan

The next day, we returned to say goodbye to the billboard. We continued with our tour of Milan, having a wonderful lunch by the canal in Navigli and later strolling along the banks of the canal. We arrived back in Dublin at about 11 at night. Drove to my sister’s house, collected our kids and drove home to Cork. Got snapped by a police car patrolling for speeding on the way (the wrong kind of photo), but got home safely. Milan will always have a special place in my heart.

The image being on display around the world is so cool, but the things I will remember will be the delight of family and friends in sharing this with me. There have been so many little incidents along the way of this story which I will never forget. So many examples. Here’s one. I get a comment on a blog post from Christelle who tells me she has seen the photograph on the back of a French photography magazine, Polka. I make contact with her and she offers to send me the magazine by post. I tell her I will pay for post and packaging, but she declines the offer. Fábio, one of the 77 photographers selected by Apple, sees it on a Swiss national newspaper and tells me he will send it by post to me, also free of charge.

Then there is Marta, from Colombia, who was on the lookout for my image. She sent me an email with lots of photos of my shot on a poster at a bus stop in her hometown. I had asked her to see if she could find it in Bogotá, bus she is from Medellin. In the email, she tells me that she was on a bus passing this bus stop when she saw the image. Paré!! (Stop!) she shouted at the driver! Got off and took this photo to send to me.

¡PARÉ!

¡PARÉ!

 

Please click here to see more of Marta’s work.

From Chicago, my friend Michael sent me this shot taken opposite the image in one of the main train stations in the city. I like the human element in this. Please click here to see more of Michael’s work.

Chicago

Chicago

Then there have been ones from total strangers who have been kind enough to make contact with me and send me images. This one from Sydney, taken by Norman Ma, is a particularly cool one.

Sydney

Sydney

And this one from Santiago, Chile is my favourite. Chile, for so long, has been one of my dream destinations. I would so love to visit and to get there now to see this would be a dream come true. Anyone want to send me there!? A huge thanks to Roberto for sending me this. How big is it!?

Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile

One other really exciting thing was to see that the world famous Saatchi Gallery posted my photograph on their Instagram page to represent Apple’s Shot on iPhone campaign. I was really pleased with this. To catch the eye of this gallery is something cool. Maybe someday it will be hanging in one of their galleries.

Saatchi Gallery

Saatchi Gallery

On Thursday, a newspaper article in the Irish Independent appeared with the photograph of my two ex-students sitting in front of the photo in Shibuya. They will be delighted when I send them a print copy of the newspaper, and a little surprise also when I get to see them next month.

Again, I would like to thank everyone for their kindness and support. It has made this so special.

You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Visit my website. 

 

The Story of my ‘Shot on iPhone’ Photograph

The past five days have probably been the most exciting days of my life. Seeing an image I created on the iPhone going on display on giant billboards in different cities all over the world has been beyond my wildest dreams.

My photo on a billboard in Hollywood, Los Angeles

My photo on a billboard in Hollywood, Los Angeles

It all started back in Copenhagen last October. I was there on a week’s visit to the University of Copenhagen as part of an exchange program from my own university. Before heading out there I had arranged with one of my friends on Flickr, Thomas Toft, to meet up for a photo walk (which in Copenhagen means a photo cycle). I had seen one of his images from Copenhagen of this  location with crazy curved white lines on the black tarmac. The way Thomas created the image with the strong contrasts of the black and white lines and with the shadow of the lone man really impacted on me. When I travel, opportunities to get out shooting are always highest on my list of priorities and if I know of a good location, it gets me excited. So you can imagine how I felt about having the chance to go shoot in this quirky place. I was so looking forward to it.

I had only ever been in contact with Thomas via Flickr email, but once we met, we hit it off immediately. We hooked up on a late autumn evening in October in the centre of Copenhagen. First, he brought me to this beautiful building that had an amazing spiral staircase and elevators without doors that never stopped – you just had to hop on and hop off – carefully. After this, we got on our bikes and joined the hundreds of other Copenhagen cyclists on the many cycle lanes that the city has, and we made our way out to the Norrebro area of Copenhagen where this park, know as Superkilen Park,  is located.

Very often when you get to see things you have only ever seen before in a photo in real life it can take a while to take them in. This was the case when we arrived. Those long, curving white lines got my eye and I found myself following their path. It really was a cool spot! After some time shooting a few frames, I got the idea of how I wanted to create an image there. The lines lead the eye on a journey and to best accentuate that would to be compose it from an incline. We headed up this little hill for this different perspective. The shot below which I took with my DSLR shows  this perspective and from where I took the iPhone shot.

King of the castle

King of the castle

Standing now in the position where the person is in the image above, I knew would allow for the kind of shot I was looking to get. We stayed up on top of this little hill for about 25 minutes, chatting and getting some images. It was a quiet evening and there were not that many people passing through. Knowing that I wanted to get the human element in the photograph, I waited. Photography can require a combination of patience and luck at times. Fortunately, for me four people entered the frame, three walking and one on a bike with the lines twisting down to meet them as they went on their way. Reviewing the image after I had taken it, I was reasonably happy. I knew I would later convert it to black and white to bring out the contrasts of the lines against the black surface. Here is the original image.

Original

Original

Later in the evening, I used the iPhone app Snapseed to convert to black and white and play a little with the contrast.

God will send a sign. When he does be prepared.

God will send a sign. When he does,  be prepared.

Now, here’s a funny thing. When I posted it to Flickr on October 31st, I gave it the title – ‘God will send a sign. When he does, be prepared.’ I am not religious, but I do have a God shaped socket with no plug to fit it. I seem to recall that the image made me feel that the four characters in the frame were just going about their daily business, each unaware of the other, but that maybe some day they would need to react and they would need to be prepared. I like giving titles to my images and while it can be hard, when it does work, it adds a dimension to the photograph. Does this title match the image? I am not sure. But it sure has gotten me thinking!

The photo received a great reaction on Flickr, getting thousands of views and some great comments from my Flickr contacts. Time moved on and the image lay there in my Flickr stream like all the others. Then out of the blue in December I got a Flickr mail from a person who had zero photos asking me to contact them about a research project. I ignored it. It was spam. But when the person sent the mail again urging me to be swift in response, I replied. Details were sketchy. There might be interest in my photo, would I be interested? Ehm… OK.

Then to my amazement I saw the name Apple and I was definitely interested. They were interested in two photos, the above one and another from I had taken in Berlin. Through the jigs and reels and many emails later we arrived at the end of February and I got an email congratulating me on my image being part of the Apple World Gallery. I was thrilled! Later, I got a phone call to congratulate me and I thought I heard the woman say that as part of this my image would be on billboards and posters in 70 cities in 24 countries. She couldn’t have said that, though. No.

Monday came and the page went live on Apple. What a buzz to find my image there, and in fifth place as you scroll! It was so great to see the other images selected. One after another and I was going wow, wow, wow. They all looked amazing. Apple had done such a great job in choosing these. Really impressive.

Later that morning, I got an email with a list of cities where, I was told, my image was on billboards. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Charlotte, Bogota, Hamburg, Berlin, Milan, Kuala Lumpur. Ya!? Really. Could it be? So, she actually had said that. Wow! How super cool!.

But how could I get to see them? As you can imagine, I wanted so much to see them. I got on to Flickr. Checked the locations of my friends there. Were any in these cities? A few. Anton was in Berlin. Dirk was in Hamburg. Nigel in LA. I had a chance. I set about writing emails. Please, please if you are anywhere these locations can you find if my image is on a billboard there? Of course, came the reply and the next day, Anton had located my image in Alexanderplatz Train Station in Berlin. It was true! My photo was on a billboard.

Berlin

Berlin

It was hard to take in. I stared at the screen, eyes wide with amazement. Wow! A few short months previous I had been standing on that very platform in Berlin and now there was this huge billboard with my photo.

On my social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, things began to get a little crazy. So many messages of congratulations. Then I began to do a search on the #shotoniphone hashtag and lo and behold images of mine started to appear from New York and Boston. Then I found someone had set up a Twitter account @shotoniphone6 and that they were tweeting images of people’s shots from around the world. From that I got to meet some of the other photographers whose images were chosen. This has been a great thing also in that we can share our excitement and awe of finding our shots in the wild. Thanks to Ryan Healey for sending me this image.

Boston

Boston

On Tuesday night, I hardly slept. There were so many updates on Twitter, and then my friend in LA, Nigel sent me a shot of my image on a billboard in Hollywood. Hollywood!

Hollywood, Los Angeles

Hollywood, Los Angeles

I got this about 5 in the morning. There was no chance to get back to sleep. I was exuberant. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined this. It is beyond cool. I was working early on Wednesday and I had already told my boss about it and she encouraged me to share the news in my university. She kindly wrote a little piece with the accompanying photo from Hollywood and this then appeared on my university’s social media platforms. This thing was gaining momentum.

The next day was probably the craziest. It the space of about 20 minutes, I got a request from a Danish journalist for an interview, an email from Apple’s P.R person about an interview with the Irish Independent and then this came in:

Shibuya, Tokyo

Shibuya, Tokyo

Now anyone who reads my blog or follows me on Flickr will know that I absolutely love Tokyo and that if I love Tokyo then Shibuya I  a d o r e!  I immediately rang my wife. ” You can’t believe it!. It’s in Shibuya! It’s in Shibuya! And to make it even more cool was the fact that Laurence had created such an amazing shot of it. I was so delighted.

Later in the day, I did the interview with the Danish journalist and Adrian from the Irish Independent. Here is the Danish piece. Still waiting to see of the Independent publish the interview.

On Twitter, more and more images began to appear of shot on iPhone ads from around the world, but no new ones of mine, unfortunately. Apple is so clever. They don’t sell products, they sell experiences. The hype surrounding their product releases is something to behold. An Apple product launch is headline news. This latest campaign of theirs has those involved in it on a treasure hunt. We do not know when the campaign will end. We don’t know exactly where our images are appearing. We have to scour the net for them. Sure, some photographers are lucky that their images are on billboards in their hometown, or they are like Austin Mann who gets to film the unfurling of his awesome ad (this is well worth watching), but I am from Cork, albeit the home of the European headquarters of Apple,  there is no promotion here. But I guess it all adds to the excitement. If anyone reading this comes across the photo, can you please send it to me?

On Thursday night, I tweeted the image Nigel had sent me of the billboard in Hollywood and it got retweeted so many times. From this, the Irish Examiner contacted me and did this piece on me. From that, numerous people got in contact to congratulate me. Then on Friday morning, I got a tweet from the Dave Fanning radio show. Now, anyone around my age would have grown up listening to Dave’s iconic radio show. This was before the Internet. Dave is Ireland’s John Peel. He gave bands their big break. U2 have a lot to thank Dave Fanning for. Anyway, back to the story. The radio station were enquiring as to whether I would be interested in talking to Dave about my experience of being part of the Apple World Gallery. Of course, I would. I spoke with one of the researchers and as I write this it is only about an hour before I go on and talk to him on his Saturday morning show. I could never have imagined all of this.

Later on Friday, a good friend of mine living in San Francisco, Jon-David messaged to say that he had found my photograph on a poster in Van Ness train station in San Francisco. I wrote back telling him to get me as many shots as he could, but to make sure he got one of himself standing next to the poster. My wife has come up with the great idea of having a wall of framed photographs of the image from around the world. It will be great to have friends of mine in the images too. Thanks JD.

Jon-David in San Francisco

Jon-David in San Francisco

As it turns out, my brother is in New York this weekend and someone has told me that the image is in Port Authority train station. I really hope he can get a photograph of it with himself beside it. That would be super cool. Even more super cool, will be next weekend when I fly out to Milan to try to find for myself one of my billboards. My wife decided this was a too-good-to-miss opportunity. So hopefully I will get a photo of myself in front of a huge billboard of my own photograph. Unfortunately, we cannot get a babysitter for the kids. I really would love if she could come with me.

And where do I go from here? I had never expected all of this. Photography is my hobby. It is what I do for fun. The iPhone puting Phun – iPhunography. Maybe I can sell Apple that slogan! Where do I go from here? Back to enjoying photography – back to having fun. And who knows where that will lead to.

One of the most lovely things about all this experience has been being able to share it with family and friends. Their reaction has made it so special. I always try to make myself realise how fortunate I am; I have an amazing, loving family, and I if my kids grow up to have just one friend like I have, I know they will be OK in life. I need more than one hand to count the great friends I have. Thanks!

Thanks to all who have sent photos, congratulations and kind words. It means so much to me. Thanks to Jen Pollack Bianco who sent me that great panoramic shot above. Thanks Jen!

You can read Part 2 of this here and Part 3 here.