Mobile Photography Interview – ‘A Day in the Life of Alexis Rotella’ from Maryland, United States

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Welcome to our very exciting interview column on theappwhisperer.com. This section entitled “A Day in the Life of…” is where we take a look at some hugely influential, interesting, newcomers as well as accomplished individuals in the mobile photography and art world… people that we think you will love to learn more about. This is our 127th interview of the series. If you have missed our previous interviews, please go here.

Today we are featuring accomplished mobile photographer, Alexis Rotella and her wonderful art. You will love this!

If you would like to take part in our A Day in the Life interview series, please send an email to myself at Joanne@theappwhisperer.com and I will get back to you.

Alexis Rotella

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Image ©Alexis Rotella

Let’s start at the beginning of the day, how does your day start?

I just turned vegan so my day starts off preparing food, e.g., roasting potato slices without salt or oil, making a smoothie, or making a bean soup in the instant pot. While things are cooking, I check out my Facebook Instagram feeds to see what’s there to inspire in the way of mobile art as well as haiku poetry and its related forms.

Always on the front burner whether to call my elderly aunt who is blind and navigates with a walker. I’m her part-time caregiver but sometimes it feels like a full-time job because she’s always on my mind; I go through the ups and downs of feeling like I’m not doing enough although I have to take care of my own body, mind, spirit. Mobile art helps me cope with things as they are now.

I also check my schedule to see if there are any patients I need to see. I maintain a small acupuncture/nutrition practice in Arnold, Maryland and try not to schedule patients on Mondays.

I went for an early morning walk along the trail near my house with Android for company. I usually don’t get much in the way of photos on my familiar walks-birds are too flighty and the backsides of bikers and joggers are usually not that interesting although I never rule anything out entirely.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

Do you like to head out and take photographs early on?

Even when I go to the mailbox I try to remember to take my Android along just in case a murder of crows is overhead or a hawk sitting in a nearby tree. A supply of birds flying or feeding on the ground is always good to have in case a piece of mobile art needs more action or energy. Of course when spring is busting out all over, flowers become a favorite topic to photograph and later turn into mobile art. If I go to a store and happen to see an interesting looking person, I will often ask to take their picture, explain that I’m a digital artist and I’d email them a copy of what I create. Most of the time people are open but sometimes I get a suspicious look and they decline.

Last summer two little girls were dancing in a yard in their ballerina attire and let me take their picture. In the next moment a man was walking with his attractive pit bull and I took its photo as well. I went home and immediately started working on an image with the little girls and the pit bull beside them as protector. I included this image on canvas in a gallery show last July and it was by far the one that got the most attention. In fact, one couple approached saying they wanted to buy itapparently the week before the woman was home alone in her apartment when someone tried to break in. Her pit bull chased them away. The couple were crestfallen when I told them the piece was not for sale at the request of the parents of one of the girls.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

How did the transition from traditional artist to mobile artist develop?

I have to back up a bit and say that I didn’t seriously start taking photos until 2007 when I won a haiku contest, the Grand Prize Kusamakura Annual Award where I traveled to Japan for the first time. I took photos with a small Nikon and when I returned, I began working with Adobe Photoshop and was thrilled with some of the effects. I added words to a number of the photos turning them into haiga (art with haiku).

The next year an artist friend from Ohio visited me with her Android. At first I resisted because I was under the impression people were addicted to their smart phones and ignored the people in front of them but within a few days I was at the Verizon store getting my own Android and within a couple of weeks I was having fun with PicSayPro. It didn’t take long for my Inner Voice to declare that in order for me to fulfil my life-long dream as an artist an iPad would be necessary. Eight years and three iPads later, I now use an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

Do you like to download new mobile photography and/or art apps regularly?

I’ve studied with a few on-line teachers and because they suggested certain apps, I downloaded quite a few. When I read about another apps on theappwhisperer or elsewhere, I’m naturally curious because I want to have more tools at my disposable but to be honest, I regularly only use a handful. But just when I think I’m apped out, another one dangles in front of my nose like the proverbial carrot.Temptation abounds.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

What is your preferred platform, Apple IOS, Android, Windows?

I shoot with an Android and use the iPad Pro for creating images.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

Would you consider changing platforms and why?

I think my next mobile device will be an iPhone but have to say electromagnetic frequencies are dangerous and I have all sorts of buttons on my Android to mitigate its harmful effects. So if I switch to an iPhone I will also have to invest a hundred or so dollars on the EMF modifiers as well.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

How often do you update your existing apps? What are your current favorites and what features do you look for in a new app?

Every time there’s an update, I go for it. There are a couple of apps I use that need updating, like PhotoGene and Laminar. A message from Apple informs me that unless the developers update, they are slowing down the iPad navigation.

iColorama is by far my most used app. That app has changed many lives and could take a hundred years to explore its magic. Teresita, the developer, is always adding new features and brushes. Her new app MetaBrushes is a bit like being in a fun house and I have a lot of practice ahead of me. I like Mextures a lot and Stackables is a necessity for its array of filters. Although I haven’t explored Snapseed enough for tweaking, I like PhotoGene for that purpose. I use Procreate somewhat but like many others, I have to spend a day to just watch the videos in order to learn its many features. I recently uploaded Hipstamatic which is a cool app but it’s confusing to navigate. I just paid $4.99 for more filters but can’t seem to locate them! Two new apps I recently discovered and love are Monovue and Miracam. I’m always looking for grunge apps but wish more would have a masking feature.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

Where’s your favourite place in the world for a shoot and why?

I love portraits. I have a couple of friends who pose for me when in the area. They let me use props and before my eyes, so many moods are expressed. To be able to spend time with portraits and play with them on the iPad is probably my most precious pastime. If I can couple portraits with flowers so much the better.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

Where do you like to upload your photographs to  Flickr, Instagram etc?

I upload to Instagram but for the life of me, Flickr remains an enigma which I hope one day I may be able to figure out. I use Twitter somewhat but Facebook is my tried and true place to share in the various albums I’ve created according to subject matter. I upload photos to Twitter but not as often.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

Do you use your mobile phone everyday to take images?

Yes. Religiously. If I’m snowed in, for example, I might take a photo of a wall, or a salt shaker, or part of a room. Just when I think a photo is a dud I surprise myself. Never say never is my motto when it comes to a dull boring picture  with all the apps at our fingertips, magic can happen. Never give up. I try to go beyond my comfort zone and explore the wonders that exist all around. The moment I do something unusual, I invite fresh energy into my life which effects my entire day and hopefully touches others as well.

I think back to when I lived in Italy for three years back in the 70’s and the photos I took with a cumbersome Nikon  if only I could teletransport myself back to that time with my mobile devices! I have dreams about being in interesting places.  Last night, for example, I missed a bus and found myself in a Polish neighbourhood in Manhattan. I was shooting all sorts of fantastic scenes, people living on their front porches where there was much action in the streets. I was so thrilled shooting away and then woke up feeling a little more than disappointed.

Mobile artists are really storytellers. People have always longed to be fed stories as stories connect us to each other and offer new perspectives. When I work on a piece of mobile art, I most often don’t know the story. The original photo is just a cover  each layer is a chapter and the ending is always a surprise. It’s important to let go of what we think the story wants to be.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

Do you edit images on your mobile devices or do you prefer to use a desktop or laptop computer?

Everything is created on the iPad Pro. I usually do a little tweaking beforehand with PicSayPro on the Android.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

Where do you envisage your mobile photography passion will take you? Have you been involved with exhibitions etc.

In July 2016 I had a one-woman digital art exhibit at a popular café where over 80 of my pieces were hung. The night of the opening, hundreds of people showed up, many of them fascinated with the form. The pieces that sold were the quirkier montages. I sold a good number of prints as well as two that were on acrylic glass. The owner of an upscale restaurant bought one which was a real treat. A jazz musician bought another even though he didn’t have a lot of spare cash.

I will have a dozen pieces in an upcoming Melange Exhibit at the Circle Gallery in Annapolis for two weeks in March. And I expect more windows of opportunity will present themselves in the coming year.

There are two main art communities in my area and both are open to digital art. I sell art from my website alexisrotelladesigns (needs serious updating). Last year I sold quite a few pieces to Facebook friends. But my reason for doing mobile art is not to sell, although that’s always a reward for my efforts. My art appears regularly in various poetry journals, both on line and hard copy, often in the form of haiga (art with word poem).

I envision my art being showcased in a greater array of magazines and journals as time goes on . Here’s an on-line exhibit of my haiga which appeared two years ago, thanks to my poetry colleague Grace Cavalieri:

https://www.google.com/search?q=danmurano.com+alexis+rotella&num=100&safe=off&sa=G&hl=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ved=0ahUKEwjb8sL2ov7RAhXB7SYKHdGjDQ8QsAQIKQ&biw=1024&bih=594

Image ©Alexis Rotella

Do you also enjoy shooting videos with your mobile phone? If so, what do you do with them? Have you considered uploading them to our Mobile Movies Flickr group?

Again, never say never. It’s something on the back burner. Not enough hours in day. I consider myself a beginner in the mobile art field and feel I have so much more to learn. A dozen or so of my mobile art pieces have been featured in banners on various sites such as theappwhisperer, NEMLandscapes, NEMRed, NEMSilence, Flowers are Fabulous, NEMImpossiableHumans, iColorama and others.

For the last 40 years my main focus has been Japanese poetry forms in English. I’ve published dozens of books and my work has been translated in many languages. I still write every day and recently was nominated Judge for the Ito-en Haiku Grand Prize (English Division) Contest 2017. I’ve always been prolific, much to the amazement of many of my colleagues. Seldom have I ever experienced dry periods. I consider myself fortunate in that the Muse is my constant companion. By choice, my husband and I have not brought children into the world. My dream in this lifetime is to create art, not babies, although I love being with kids for short periods of time. And around the holidays, I often wonder what it would be like to have adult children visiting with their kids. And as we grow older, I sometimes wonder who will take care of us when we become frail.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

Where do you see the future of mobile photography?

Mobile photography is still in its infancy. More galleries will be open to it and it will command prices as high as acrylics, oils or other mediums. People are fascinated with digital art and are flabbergasted when they realize that most of the art arrayed on my walls is all done on a mobile device. We need to educate the public, most people have a mobile device and I think if more adults and kids were aware of what they can do on a phone, they’d feel more empowered and less bored. People often create drama because they need drama, creating art can fulfill that need in a healthy way.

Individuals who think they’re not creative are finding they’ve been disillusioned all these years, especially baby boomers. Here’s a poem I wrote back in the seventies  it was my first poem that was first published by East West Journal. It’s still circulating the globe like a chain letter and has been included in many anthologies and texts including Dr. Bernie Segal’s LOVE MAGIC AND MUDPIES. (takingnote.learningmatters.tv/?p=6751).

Image ©Alexis Rotella

What do you think is the most popular area of mobile photography?

The art of the selfie is big. It’s not that taking a selfie is used as an ego trip.  Many people of all ages are exploring themselves in this way. Secondly, I think portraits in general are changing the way we look at the mystery we call the life we’re participating in. I love NEMImpossibleHumans for inspiration. We all wear many masks that change from second to second. Digital art portraits help deal with the aging process of myself and others. There comes a time when most of us look in the mirror and see our mother or father waving back. It can be a shocking experience. Being able to accept ourselves at every age is vital to our well being.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

Do you think it’s country specific, are some nations more clued up?

I see fabulous work from Russia, Italy and all of Europe, England, South America, the Orient and North America. The Netherlands produces some intriguing mobile videos and art.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

If you could select a specification for a mobile smart phone, what features would you select, photographically speaking?

I wish my Android wouldn’t turn off just when I need to focus on a flight of birds. I find myself cursing at it a lot but then develop the attitude that if I was meant to capture a certain scene, I would have.. I wish the Apple pencil would work without having to charge it. And I wish the tips of the pencil didn’t come loose. I’ve lost the tip of my pencil and was forced to buy a package of four. When the tip of one’s pencil gets lost and swooped up in the vacuum cleaner, it’s a 9-11 moment.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

What do you think of myself and theappwhisperer?

You are the greatest mobile photography midwife, giving so many people the chance to shine, to explore, to grow. I echo my late friend, Carolyn Hall Young, in singing your praises. I have to spend more time keeping up with the latest contests and information that you relentlessly post. I haven’t really entered any contests  my biggest achievement in the field of mobile art is preparing for my one-woman show in July 2016 where I spent $4,000 printing my work on canvas, metal, and glass.

I encourage everyone to support theappwhisperer  This resource is invaluable and without it, many of us would flounder. Joanne, you are so approachable and helpful. Your heart is immense; you’ve expanded our horizons tremendously. A deep bow to you and your supporters.

Image ©Alexis Rotella

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