Rad Drew has a talent for keeping his photography real. From the initial execution to the final production, Drew’s imagery reflects reality. His work is fine and graceful with a demonstrable human insight.
This is our new interview section for mobile photographers and mobile artists and we hope to be filling it very soon with vast explosions of thought and imagery. These questions are designed to explore the artist behind the work, to get to know them a little more intimately.
We recently published our first ‘Brought to Light’ Interview with Andrea Bigiarini, Founder of the New Era Museum and FIPA Florence International Photography Awards as well as writer, author, Imagineer and digital artist, if you missed that, please go here. We then went on to publish an instinctively gifted artist, Ile Mont, if you missed that please go here. Further we published our interview with Roger Guetta, please see here.
Describe a moment that changed your life
In 2014 I had the opportunity to go down the Colorado River for 10 days with a handful of great friends who are also fantastic photographers. Seeing how water has carved a canyon out of rock over millions of years had an uncanny way of putting life into perspective for me. Being tossed about by those powerful rapids really drove home the relative insignificance of my life in the overall scheme of things. I think I stopped taking myself so seriously. I also, on that trip, made up my mind to pursue my career, and to ask Nancy to marry me. My new career is challenging and satisfying, and Nancy said yes and we were married in December 2014, so life is good!
‘Some Kiss We Want’ – ©Rad Drew
Describe a childhood photographic/art memory
When I was a little kid watching TV with my family and I’d see some effect done on the screen, like a magic carpet, or Mary Poppins, flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz, or something like that, I’d ask my parents, “How did they DO that?” My mother, not really knowing herself said something like, “The movie people do it with cameras.” Well, I didn’t understand any better how they “did it,” but I did know that I wanted to understand the secrets of the camera and discover its magic.
‘Winging Home’ – ©Rad Drew
Describe your mobile studio
My mobile studio lives in a canvas back pack that I’ve carried for years now. In it I have an assortment of small cameras currently the Fuji X-E2, Samsung Galaxy Camera 2, LUMIC DMC LX7 converted to infrared (I like to shoot with the “big” cameras and process images on my iPhone), and of course, my iPhones: an Phone 6+ and a 5s for backup. Also contained in my canvas back pack are all my accessories: Olloclip and Moment lenses, extra batteries, soft fiber lens cloths, small tripod, flashlight for light painting, filters, underwater case, notepad and pen, and maps. I try to keep my pack ready, so that when I want to shoot, I just grab it and go; I’ve got everything I need.
‘Yellow Dory at Low Tide’ – ©Rad Drew
What do you like to think about whilst creating images?
Photography is meditative for me. If I’m thinking about anything, I’m unaware of what it is most of the time. I get lost in the moment and in the space and light between my subject and me. The rest of the world sort of ceases to exist. It’s one of the aspects I love most about photography. I can stand for long periods making tripod adjustments, retaking the same shot again and again, making small adjustments each time. If I’m “thinking” at all it’s about how to compose the image in the camera so I don’t have to crop in post. I ask myself lots of questions… what if I move a little to the left? Are there any distracting components in my image? Are their bright spots at the edge of my frame? What am I seeing/not seeing that is in this scene? Have I looked up recently? Have I looked behind me recently? That sort of thing.
‘Shadows of the Past’ – ©Rad Drew
Share one mobile photography/art tip
More than any camera, or rule, or guideline, or technique, the most important part of photography, to me, is what I feel for my subject. Whether that subject is a person or a tree or a rock, or a car, how do I feel in the presence of that subject? What is the nature of my relationship with my subject? I think if I can begin to hear what speaks to me, what moves me, what attracts me, and start to define my relationship with that thing, whatever it is, I may just be poised to make a possibly great photo.
‘Friendship Bridge Racoon Creek’ – ©Rad Drew
What or who ignited your passion for mobile photography/art?
My father was an amateur photographer. He was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska, where I was born. I grew up looking at his slides of the pristine wilderness around Fairbanks and I knew at a very early age that I wanted to make photographs full of those kinds of stories.
‘Cigar Factory Pano Cuba’ – ©Rad Drew
What is the most unusual subject you have photographed/painted?
Some years ago the Chaplin of a local rehabilitation center asked me to create a photo exhibit that would capture the “spirituality” of the Center. It was a place where just about anyone who had an injury could go. There were young athletes who’d been in car wrecks, children with skeletal problems, old people who’d suffered strokes, some brain surgery patients, etc. It was a mixed bag of broken people working to become whole again.
I spent days in the Center getting to know the staff from the custodians to the cooks in the cafeteria to the physical therapists to the nurses and docs. I also got to know a number of the patients and their families. Once I’d established a rapport with several patients and caregivers, I began to photograph. I photographed patients and their families, workers in the Center, and a lot of hands on people; hands helping, hands touching, hands holding, hands healing in so many ways. I created about 20 b&w images about 20×30 of people helping others heal. I mounted each photo on foam core, borrowed a puzzle cutter from a local museum, and cut each photo into puzzle pieces. Behind each puzzle piece I placed some text, provided by the patients, family, and staff. They shared words that were meaningful to them and the recovery of their patient or loved one. Some shared their own words, while others shared bible verses or favorite poems; one young guy shared Grateful Dead lyrics.
On the day of the opening, the staff, patients, and their families got to take the puzzles apart and put them back together. It was truly an interactive exhibit. As they took each piece of puzzle out the text behind that piece was revealed. As loved ones assembled the puzzle into the picture, it showed various loving exchanges occurring with the patient. There was much healing and many tears shed that day by everyone involved in the exhibit.
‘Silhouette’ – ©Rad Drew
What are your favorite mobile photography accessories?
I love my extra batteries. I have a Mophie case that holds extra juice, and then I use the rugged New Trent PowerPak, or “bricks” as I call them. They hold a tremendous amount of juice, are extremely durable, and allow me to charge multiple accessories at once. I also love my attachable lenses. My favorite ones are by Olloclip and Moment. Of those I’d say my Olloclip 2x telephoto is my favorite!
‘Dusty Road’ – ©Rad Drew
Who would play you in a film of your life?
I’d like to say Steve McQueen, but probably more realistic would be Peter Sellers.
‘Transitions’ – ©Rad Drew
Do you have a favourite app?
That’s like asking if one of my children is my favorite, so, no, I have several “favorites!”
SnapSeed is my most used app due to its comprehensive capabilities, but I love the Jixipix Suite of apps. They are all wonderful and many run on both IOS and Android platforms. My favorite of those is VintageScene. Then there are the texture and blending apps. Among those I love Image Blender as a blending app, and Stackables, Enlight, Mextures and Distressed FX for adding textures and layers.
‘Oracle’ – ©Rad Drew
Describe your dream mobile photography/art assignment
Last year the owner of an Indianapolis restaurant, The Pen and Palate, hired me to photograph 10 prominent local artists (painters, poets, sculptors, and writers) in their work environments for permanent display in the new restaurant. I got to meet and photograph some incredible artists, among them famed writer Dan Wakefield, and it was one of the most pleasurable assignments I’ve ever had.
Next to that, I love teaching in the field. Standing with a student, photographing a beautiful scene, and demonstrating or suggesting how to make an image with the iPhone. It’s about as good as it gets for me.
Rad A. Drew is a professional photographer who lives with his wife, Nancy Lee, in the historic community of Irvington on the east side of Indianapolis, Indiana. He has been a resident of Irvington for 25 years.
His creative iPhone images have received numerous awards and have made their way into international juried competitions and galleries in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Washington DC, New York City, Seattle, Toronto, Collingwood, and Melbourne.
He is author of the fine art books, In Good Light, Images of the Circle City, and Rural Indiana, A Beauty all its Own, and is a contributor to today’s most comprehensive volume of iPhone instruction, The Art of iPhone Photography: Creating Great Photos and Art on Your iPhone.
Rad shoots with a variety of cameras, including Fuji mirrorless, Nikon, Lumix, Samsung, and, of course, the iPhone.He enjoys processing his “big boy” camera photos on his iPhone. Rad teaches iPhone photography around the world to individuals, corporations, and professional organisations. His destination photography tours are great ways to learn while photographing beautiful areas of the world. In 2016 he is teaching and leading groups to Cuba, the South of France, Cape Cod, and The Palouse, among others. For more information on art purchases, workshops, books, tours, and exhibits, contact Rad directly or visit his web site, http://www.RadDrewPhotography.com.