Mobile Masters 2014 interview / by Philip Parsons

Earlier this year I had the privilege of being part of the Mobile Masters 2014 ebook.  Unfortunately, the interview that I had been asked to prepare wasn't used in the final release and so I have decided to publish it in full, here.

What are your top 3-5 favourite apps and why do you like them? 

My favourite apps change as they evolve, but there are a few that I have consistently used.

One app that I commonly begin processing with is VSCO Cam.  I am told that VSCO are well known for their digital emulation of analogue film and it seems to me that knowledge has been successfully ported over to their mobile app.  The ‘presets’ give a great base for the tones I like to achieve in my final edits.  The adjustments are fairly crude, but generally I use VSCO as my starting point.

At one time Snapseed was my initial go to app, but I use it less frequently these days.  I still use the ‘selective adjust’ feature however, as this is an incredibly simple method of making brightness, contrast and saturation adjustments in small selected areas of a photo.  It is a really great app for someone starting out in mobile photography because of its versatility and its logical interface.

Photoshop Touch is my next choice.  I have had no experience with the desktop version of Photoshop because I’m not a digital SLR user, but as I have started to experiment with PS Touch it’s an app that I’ve really grown to like.  For me, it is the selection tools in PS Touch that really stand out.  I’m certainly looking forward to learning more about this app.  There are also a lot of useful online resources for this app.

Handy Photo is an example of an app that has evolved into something really useful.  Previously I used TouchRetouch to edit out details from a shot that distracted or ruined the composition of a photograph.  TouchRetouch has been amalgamated into Handy Photo along with a few other very useful features.

Finally, I’ll mention two apps together because I use them in conjunction for a specific technique.  If an image looks flat I will open it in Noir, add some lighting (making sure the contrast is fairly low) and then open the image exported from Noir and the original photo in Image Blender.  These two images combined using a luminosity blend can add some depth to the photo.


Brief bio - What is your educational and/or creative background? Where do you live? What do you do professionally? 

I was born and brought up in a village outside of Plymouth in the South West of England.  I moved to South Wales to study for a Masters degree in Astrophysics at Cardiff University.  I later went on to study for another Master degree in Medical Radiation Physics at Swansea University as part of the training for my current career.  I now work as a Medical Physicist in the field of Radiotherapy at a local Cancer Hospital.   I have no formal artistic qualifications or training.  As a teenager I owned a Canon A1 35mm film SLR, but I didn’t spend a significant amount of time with it due to its size and weight.  I currently live outside Port Talbot in South Wales.  I have been happily married for well over a decade and have a five year old son.

I became interested in mobile photography through Instagram.  For a while I didn’t bother downloading it and couldn’t be bothered to find out what all the fuss was about.  When I eventually did, I was hooked.  I began playing with the standard filters, but quickly changed to sepia only edits.  I was amazed at the work that people were able to produce using only a mobile phone!  After approximately a year I started a new account and began to experiment with colour.  

I am now part of the AMPt Community leadership because I believe that there is an enormous amount to learn and be inspired by in this group.  Hopefully, I may be able to pass on something useful I have learnt too!

What other mobile artists inspire you? 









What mobile photo groups, blogs or other information would you recommend readers interested in exploring mobile photography check out?

As I am on the leadership team there, I would fully recommend you join and participate at AMPt Community -

I also recommend checking out the digital magazines Mobiography and FLTR.


What does mobile photography mean to you and the future of photography? 

I love exploring and mobile photography has taken me from my living room and out into the world again.  I love that feeling of being able to go out and not feel that I need to take anything with me except my mobile phone (and perhaps my Olloclip and Joby GorillaPod).  I have to get up close and personal with my subjects due to the lack of an optical zoom, but this just means that I need to walk and investigate!  Of course, technically, there are other limitations when comparing to a digital SLR, but to me a mobile is just a different tool - a pallet knife compared to a brush.  I believe that mobile photography is an entirely new branch of photography and it is entirely possible to produce works of as great beauty, significance and emotion as any other art form because it is the creative individual behind the tool that is the impetus not the tool itself.

The phrase that mobile photographers throw out again and again is, that ‘it’s the camera that is always on me’.  For me, that is only half the truth of why I keep shooting with a mobile phone.  It is always on me, so if I miss a great shot it is because I chose to ignore it, but I continue to shoot with a mobile precisely because of the restrictions it imposes upon me.  It allows me to concentrate on what I feel is important in a shot - composition.  

Mobile phones have put photography into the hands of people like me who have no artistic training and are looking for an outlet for their creativity.  Is it the great democratiser of photography?  Not quite yet, I don’t think.  It is possible for more and more people to access one, but camera phones are still quite expensive and there are certainly still cheaper options available out there.  However, mobile phones put photography straight into the palms of a significant number of people who previously didn’t use a camera and gives them the opportunity to be expressive and creative at moment in during their day.  Mobile photography has made it possible to open a world of hidden moments.