We are delighted to bring to you the eighth in our brand new series of interviews within our Portrait of an Artist column entitled “Seeing through the eyes…”. This is a section that has been created by our wonderful Portrait of an Artist Editor, Ile Mont. Mont has been inspired by the life and works of Carolyn Hall Young, as so many of us have. Young was the main contributor to our Portrait of an Artist Flickr pool and filled it with portraits of so many wonderful people, not only of herself. It is for this reason that Mont wanted to create this section, to enable us to view the artists style through their own eyes. At the end of each interview, Mont will keep Young’s tradition alive, with a portrait of herself, seen through the eyes of the artist. In this case, you will see that at the end of this interview there is a portrait of Mont, seen through the eyes of McBeee-Smartphoneographer, what a gift!
Please continue to post your mobile portraiture to our dedicated Flickr group, this way, Mont will search through these artists first to interview. (foreword by Joanne Carter).
All images in this interview ©McBeee-Smartphoneographer, with the final images a collaboration ©Ile Mont/McBeee-Smartphoneographer
Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hello I’m McBeee-Smartphoneographer. I’ve been a keen photographer on and off since my teens but a few years ago I realised I wasn’t taking many photos as life was too busy to to set aside the time to take out my camera equipment. I’d seen a documentary where professional photographers were challenged to create great images with just a phone. As I have it with me all the time it seemed like a perfect solution, in spite of it’s technical limitations of course.
What does being creative mean to you?
I very rarely set out with a plan as to exactly what I want to achieve so being creative for me is the process of producing an image, mostly during the editing stage that creates a mood, a feeling, that connects with something in the consciousness of the viewer.
Can you describe the time when you first realised that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
When I displayed my photographs, mainly natural portraits of friends just doing what friends do at school and got some very positive feedback.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
I’m trying to communicate feelings and moods and sometimes a bit of a story to the viewer. I’m not particularly interested in being too clear or prescriptive about the message as I like the idea of the viewer’s imagination filling in the gaps.
Why portraits and self portraits?
I used to do a lot of portraits in my youth and loved to see and hear the subject’s reaction when they saw the finished article. There’s a strong tradition in photography for self-portraiture and while being a fairly private and shy individual in real life working under pseudonym has really given me the freedom to explore this area. I can be very spontaneous and not have to rely on others.
What do you think are the ups and downs about working with your own image?
The ups are that it’s only me that will be upset if it’s not worked out well and I can do whatever I want. I am more likely to interpret my own ideas more accurately. The downs are that my poses can get a bit repetitive as I am looking at myself subjectively and possibly avoiding new, creative and challenging ideas that might come from another person posing for me.
Is there an artwork you are most proud of?
Probably ‘A Tragedy – Rembrandt edit’. While considering myself primarily a photographer rather than an artist with this I realised I could make a pretty good go of a conceptual piece.
How do you know when a work is finished?
When I’m bored with it. No not really, I just get to the point where I realise nothing I’m doing is adding anything to the image. In fact I save along the way and sometimes, when I find myself up a creative cul-de-sac I’ll go back a couple of edits.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
I work very spontaneously, such is the nature of working with a device that’s with me at all time. I see something or a scene that interests me, take a picture or two and then edit as and when I can find the time. The advantage of editing on the phone is that I can do it sat anywhere at pretty much any time.
What inspires you?
The joy of turning a fleeting moment into something I loosely call art. Also all the exceptional images I see by both professionals and amateurs alike.
What are your favorite tools and apps while creating?
My favourite tool is probably the crop. This sets the layout of the ‘canvas’ and creates context and can have a strong influence on the message and the mood of the image.
My primary app is Snapseed. It allows for subtle changes and edits and is easy to use, versatile and has all the basic tools I need. I back this up with PhotoDirector and Photoshop Express mainly for the occasional tool that Snapseed doesn’t have.
What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?
For me it is working under a pseudonym. I’m not constricted by the expectations and approval/disapproval of those around me. Also keep trying new ideas, step out of your comfort zone and stretch yourself even if it’s turns out a complete failure.
What advice would you share with us?
Try to really enjoy what you’re doing. It shows in the work you produce and never take yourself too seriously, it blunts your creative edge. Don’t try to work your way out of an uncreative period.
Take a break, do something completely different and you’ll came back full of ideas.
Thank you very much for your insight and time.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about what I do. I’d never really given it much thought until now.
I have been seen through the eyes of McBeee-Smartphoneographer! It was such a pleasure. Thank you!
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