© Clare Bardsley-Smith
It’s been a fabulous experience being part of this year’s Head On mobile photography competition, the first year Head On has included this genre after last year’s successful trial exhibition in Centennial Park. Many thanks go to the event organisers, volunteers and the judges of this wonderful event, the later of whom I am very grateful for. But particular thanks to my fellow mobile photography finalists who made the mobile exhibition so powerful this year and who have hopefully secured its rightful place in a festival of this calibre.
My mobile photograph was taken on a blustery day at North Coogee. I was taking a walk with my mother at the time. I knew that the rocky area of North Coogee was a magnet for adrenalin junkie young boys with way too much energy, who love to use the rocks as a springboard into the surf. They wait for the largest part of the swell to go by and jump into the foamy spume. The bond the boys have is evident in their shared enthusiasm and the energy of the moment is exhilarating. I always feel quite anxious for their safety, counting how many heads surface after every big wave, wondering when an adult is going to call a halt to the show.
I knew the area well because I had taken photos of this little rite of passage in years gone by with my dslr. But this was different now…..I had an iphone. The boys thought nothing of me taking snaps with my iphone and I was able to get closer to the action because I was less frightened of ruining expensive camera gear.
During this display of boy vs wild, I could see a huge set approaching and at this time only one of the boys was atop the large rock. While my mother ran the other way in distress, I approached the boy with my pro-camera app ready, hoping to get him and the wave in the image. Instead I got dumped for my troubles. But I got dumped while pressing the iphone shutter, and that’s what matters.
The resulting image shows a painterly wash of the wave brushing past the iphone camera. This effect created some nice layers. I heard a fellow mobile photographer describe it like a
‘ stormy veil ’ of water, behind which the boy is seen battling nature and in the far distance, the waves. I loved the happy accident the dumping afforded me and I was equally happy to get the rocks behind the boy resembling a kind of cape. A superhero boy facing the elements. I knew the images would look great black and white and promptly edited the picture in Snapseed and posted the image in real-time on Instagram to some great reviews. The whole experience was typical of the immediacy and fun of shooting with an iphone.
The joy of using a phone camera is evident to everyone who has ever used one. The challenges, such as the like obsession, the inundation of images, the temptation to post daily without editing and the weird fact that so many people like to take photos of their cats, is also evident. However anyone doubting the power of the phone as an image-maker, needs to take a look at mobile photographers like Oliver Lang (oggsie), Andrea O’Reilly (dappledowl), Jascon McCawley (mccawleyphoto), Misho Baranovic (mishobaranovic), Nick Moir (nampix), Pascal Hoyak (eskimokiss94),
George Politis ( _Giorgopoliti_), Gregg Briggs (gregbriggs), Adrian Nast (adriannast), Mick Tsikas (mickpix), Chris Hyde (chrishydephoto). These photographers are the tip of the iceberg of mobile talent in Australia, amateur photographers and professional photographers alike. They’re using this little device in new and inventive. It’s inspiring.
From my own perspective, mobile photography has afforded me the luxury of candid moments hard to achieve with a large heavy dslr, an ability to edit in any location real time and post immediately for feedback from a community of like-minded talented photographers, who I really admire.
They say the best camera is the one you have with you, well maybe that’s the one in your pocket!