Welcome to another new series of interviews and insights that we are running on theappwhisperer.com. This new section, entitled, Extension Of The I, goes deeper into the photographic aspects of mobile photography. It delves into the lives and thoughts and influences that our artists experience from their photography. No other mobile photography website reaches the depths and emotions of the mobile photographers as we do in this new series of interviews.
We think you’re going to enjoy this, a lot. Today, we are featuring Cara Gallardo-Weil. We recently interviewed Cara for our A Day In The Life of series, see here. Cara Gallardo Weil was born in Hong Kong to Filipino parents who moved there in the early 60s to work in publishing. Her early life was spent in Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines. She studied graphic design in London and spent more than 20 years there before returning to Hong Kong, where she currently resides.
Her Hipstamatic work has been featured in the global photography project, ‘Adventures in Hipstaland’, run by the developers of the Hipstamatic app, ‘Adventures in Hipstaland Hong Kong’ in November 2010, ’Adventures in Hipstaland Tuscany’ in July 2011 and ‘Adventures in El Nido, Palawan’ in January 2012.
She was recently included in the list of ‘5 Amazing Hipstamatic Photographers’ by Business Insider and one of her images ‘Double Crossing’ was selected for inclusion in Mashable’s ’10 stunning Hipstamatic iPhone Photos’.
Read this exclusive interview with Cara below…
We have included exif data, in as much as the app or apps that were used to create the final image. As some of the images were cross processed we have listed the apps in the sequential order they were used in the editing process, we have also provided links for each app to the iTunes
App Store, just in case you’re inspired enough to try them out for yourself as well as accessories used.
You can find all the links at the end of this article.
(If you would like to be interviewed for our new ‘Extension Of The I’ section, just send an email to Joanne@theappwhisperer.com, and we’ll get it set up)
So, without further ado, let us begin…
First Things First…
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Hong Kong Skyline’ – Apps used – Hipstamatic – John S Lens – Blanko film
JC – How did you get started in photography?
CGW – My background is in graphic design. I’ve always had an interest in photography and dabbled in it when I was at art college in the days when we had to work with film and in darkrooms. But after college I stopped doing anything serious for years. I think it was after a trip to Bhutan in 2009 that I decided to try to get back in to it again. Downloading Hipstamatic in the spring of 2010 was the turning point for me and it became an obsession to shoot anything and everything, everywhere.
Last year I decided I wanted to learn to use my ‘grown up’ camera properly (the DSLR) and really try to understand ‘traditional’ photography in the hope that if I have a better understanding of light and composition, it would help to improve my iPhoneography. I am currently doing a course with a friend and it’s been a great help.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Brick Lane, London’ – Apps used – iPhone default camera, Snapseed
JC – Who and what are your influences?
CGW – There are so many… One of my first jobs out of art college was working for British designer Peter Saville who was and continues to be quite an inspiration for me. I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some amazing photographers like Anton Corbijn, Nick Knight and Trevor Key. I have also worked with many galleries and museums in London and have been involved with projects involving music, art, fashion, architecture and other creative fields. I think I am very much influenced by graphic-based images and paintings – anything that involves colour, shapes, patterns, lines and typography. Spending 20 years working in the design industry and living in London has definitely helped shaped the way I see things.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Shadow Play’ – Apps used – Hipstamatic, Snapseed, Iris Photo Suite
JC – What draws you to the subjects you seek?
CGW – It could be an unusual moment, or just a beautiful scene, or a stunning flower or detail of a building. I try to keep my eye open to possibilities all the time. The immediacy of taking a photograph with the iPhone has made me more aware of what is around me. Sometimes I may shoot something quite ordinary, but after a bit of app’ing, the image is transformed in to something that is more interesting.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Gossip on the steps’ – Apps used – iPhone default camera, Snapseed, Wood Camera
JC – What is it about these subjects that you want to capture/communicate and ultimately convey in your images?
CGW – With street photography, I like to capture moments from mundane to special or funny – interesting juxtapositions or characters. And generally, I suppose I try to look for beauty for me it is always compelling to try to find beauty around me whether it is an object, a city or a person.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Hello Kitty’ – Apps used – Hipstamatic, Snapseed, PhotoToaster, ScratchCam
JC – How did you ‘settle’ on this subject?
CGW – I don’t think I’ve settled on any one subject rather several I like to keep my options open.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Forty winks’ – Divisoria market, Manila, Philippines’ – Apps used – Hipstamatic – Libatique lens – Blanko film
JC – Is there another are/subject that you would like to explore, if so, what and why?
CGW – I would like to be braver when it comes to street photography. At the moment, much of what I capture is in stealth mode. I am not very good at doing the more documentary style of photography, which is something I would like to explore as well as portraiture.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Waiting for a Train’ – Art et Métiers metro, Paris – Apps Used – Hipstamatic – Libatique lens – Blanko film
JC – Which photographers (not necessarily mobile photographers) do you most admire and why?
CGW – Again, there are so many all the greats of street photography including Vivian Maier, whose work was only discovered recently plus (in no particular order) Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon, Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz, Nick Knight, Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Andreas Gursky, Wolfgang Tillmans, Anton Corbijn, Trevor Key, Herb Ritts, Bill Brandt, Robert Mapplethorpe, William Eggleston, Mario Testino, Horst P Horst, Jeanloup Sieff … the list is almost endless! I admire all of them for different reasons and I never get tired of looking at their work.
And there are so many in the mobile phone community whose work I also admire so much talent and I feel quite humbled to be a part of it.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Central Park‘ – New York – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Snapseed
JC – Henri Cartier-Bresson is in many ways, the Godfather of street photography, even in the 1930’s he enjoyed using a small camera for discretion in order to capture people and tell a story – do you feel this way regarding mobile photography?
CGW – The mobile phone definitely gives one the ability to work discreetly, and to be spontaneous, catching moments of life without being obtrusive.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Passing by‘ – Hong Kong – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Snapseed, Iris Photo Suite
JC – Tell us about your photographic technique – do you rely on intuition or do you believe in a more formal/trained approach?
CGW – I have been relying mainly on my intuition. Now, after doing the photography course, I would say that there is more of the formal/trained approach creeping in especially when using my ‘big’ camera. But with the iPhone I still work very much on intuition, especially when it comes to street stuff most of the captures are a split second decision I just shoot and worry about how it will look later.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Walk’ – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Snapseed, Iris Photo Suite, BlurFX, Juxtaposer, Diptic
JC – How has your photography evolved?
CGW – I hope that it is getting better! I think doing the 365 project really helped me to develop. It was a real challenge to try to capture something interesting every day and to keep it fresh. Looking at all the wonderful work being produced in the mobile phone community and being a part of different groups has also helped my work evolve I just hope that I can continue to improve over time.
All For One…
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Sea of sunflowers‘ – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Iris Photo Suite, PhotoStudio
JC – Many of the great photographers, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier Bresson described only shooting images for “themselves”do you see this attitude with mobile photographers?
CGW – I can’t speak for others, but personally, I shoot for myself. I would say if it’s not for a job where you have to answer to clients and have restrictions, then one should always shoot for oneself.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Reflections’ – Exchange Square, Hong Kong – Apps Used – Hipstamatic – John S lens, Blanko film
JC – Do you take risks with photographs, push boundaries? If yes, please give examples, if no, why not, would you like to?
CGW – I would say that I don’t particularly take risks or push boundaries when it comes to photography. There has been the odd occasion, with street photography, where I have risked taking a photograph and one time, the subject of my photograph actually got up and punched me in the arm. I later found out that he is well known for being aggressive and usually has a sign somewhere near him that says no photographs unless you pay him some money (I didn’t see the sign otherwise I probably would not have taken the photograph). It can be a real dilemma with street photography. In theory, in most countries, as long as you are in a public place, anyone can take a photograph of anyone. If you ask permission first, you lose the candid aspect and the spontaneity of the moment.
I do admire those that push the boundaries, and not just with street photography I never stop being amazed with the work I see within the community. I would like to be able to develop in that direction, but for now, I’m happy with where I am, discovering what suits the way that I work and capture images around me.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Silhouette self in the city’ – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Snapseed, BlurFX, Iris Photo Suite
JC – What is your favorite picture, of your own and why?
CGW – Probably one of my recent favorites is ‘Silhouette self in the city’ It is a reflection of myself in the window of a building that I spend a lot of time passing through. You can just about see a glimpse of Hong Kong in my silhouette. I very rarely do self-portraits mainly because I don’t like photographs of myself, so I would consider this one to be pushing a boundary for me. I like the painterly feel of the background juxtaposed with the silhouette. You can tell that I don’t like photographs of myself because you can’t really tell that it is me I’ve been disguised in the reflection of the city lights.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Any your birds can sing’ – Apps Used – default iPhone camera, PhotoStudio, WaterMyPhoto
JC – Do you get emotionally involved with your photography?
CGW – It has become an obsession, so I would say yes. Some subjects are naturally more emotionally involved than others and there are some scenes that just take my breath away it’s a bit like watching a film or listening to the lyrics of a song. I do believe that an image has more power if you feel a connection to it.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘El Nido’ – Palawan, The Phillippines – Apps Used – Hipstamatic – John S lens, Blanko film
JC – Does your life become entwined with your subjects?
CGW – Not usually – unless I am taking photographs of friends or family.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Walk on by’ – Apps Used – Default iPhone camera, Snapseed, Wood Camera, BlurFX, TouchRetouch
JC – Do you have a digital workflow system to sort your images, if so what is it?
CGW – No, I’m terrible with sorting out my images. I really need to figure out a better system of keeping track of everything. I tend to get rid of all the ‘steps’ because sometimes there are so many, and with subtle changes too it gets confusing and uses up a lot of memory. I should really make it a point to download everything off my phone once a week and organize it. I hope that I will get around to doing this one day because I do need some kind of order. Sometimes it is hard to find the files that I need.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Man in a bubble’ – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Snapseed, MarbleCam, Iris Photo Suite
JC – Do you have a special processing style?
CGW – I would probably say no, nothing particularly special. But a friend of mine recently said that she really liked my ‘blur work’ so perhaps that could be considered as a post-processing style that one can identify with me.
Tips For Processing…
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Lulu’ – Apps Used – Default iPhone camera, Snapseed, PhotoToaster
JC – Do you have any tips for processing?
CGW – Be open to trying different apps, filters, layers if that suits your style. Ultimately it really depends on the direction that you would like to explore in terms of iPhoneography there is so much out there and so many different processing styles available at the end of the day it is down to your own taste, and what you feel works for you aesthetically. Touch Retouch is a great app for getting rid of things that you don’t want and for touching up spots.
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Callas V’ – Apps Used – Default iPhone camera, Snapseed, TouchRetouch, PhotoToaster
JC – How do you think photography has changed over the years?
CGW – Analogue to digital was obviously a big change. When I first started out in design, nothing was digital and all photographs were developed and printed. Re-touching was all done by hand and it was a very specialized skill. Things that most people take for granted now were impossible to do without special knowledge and materials. Now we can retouch from our phones the progress in technology is really quite amazing.
The cost effectiveness of the digital age has made a huge difference too. The fact that you can alter photographs at the touch of a button without incurring any extra cost I believe has enabled artists and photographers to experiment more without the worry of costs escalating (unless of course they are paying for someone else’s time to work on their photograph) And the cost factor has also made photography more accessible. The downside is that from a professional point of view, in some cases, the value of photography has been devalued as people think they can either do it themselves or that it should be cheap or even worse, free. A similar thing happened in the design industry with computers and access to fonts and desktop publishing programs, some people believe that they can do it themselves and do not see the merit in using a designer.
And it goes without saying that mobile phone photography has also been a huge change. The upside is that the accessibility of the mobile phone has opened up creative possibilities for so many people, which must be a good thing in my opinion.
35 mm Film Days…
Copyright Image – Cara Gallardo Weil – ‘Dive huts’ – Boracay Island, The Phillippines – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Snapseed
JC – As a mobile photographer you’re at the cutting edge of technology, do you ever hanker for the 35mm film days?
CGW – I personally do not miss it, but I do appreciate the quality and feel of analogue.