Extension Of The I,  News

Extension Of The I With Alan Kastner – One Of The Most Inspirational iPhone Photographers In The World

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 Alan Kastner, we featured Alan in our A Day In The Life interviews earlier this week, if you missed that you can read it here. Alan has participated in roughly a dozen exhibitions over the past year. Of particular note, he was one of six iPhoneographers featured in Latitudes International Photography Festival 2012 in Huelva, Spain from February 13 through to April 1. A history-making occasion, the exhibition saw iPhoneography shown on a museum level together with renowned photographers, including those from Magnum Photos.

Alan is based in Tokyo, Japan although originally from Montreal, Canada. He has lived in Tokyo now for 23 years after extending his original 2 year research fellowship from the Japanese government. He works as a freelance writer, translator and branding consultant for a number of local ad agencies and production houses.

You can find app all the links at the end of this article.

Check out the full interview below…

(If you would like to be interviewed for our new ‘Extension Of The I’ section, just send an email to [email protected], and we’ll get it set up.)


First Things First…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Golden Age’ – App Used – Slow Shutter Cam, Photo fx (for crop to square), Spica, Pixlr-o-matic, King Camera, Filterstorm


JC – How did you get started in photography?

AK – I began shooting as a small boy with my family’s Kodak Retina IIIc and a Model 800 Polaroid Land camera. The first camera to which I had exclusive access was a Kodak Instamatic 100 I received as a gift. My passion really developed when I entered high school and joined the photo club. I’ll never forget the thrill of learning to print and develop my own film there. I soon took money I’d saved from delivering newspapers and, (unable to afford the Nikkormat SLR camera I truly craved), purchased an Olympus Trip 35. That became the first 35mm camera into which I crammed bulk-loaded film as I commenced shooting most anything around me.



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Eye of the Beholder’ – Apps Used – Cameramatic, FX Photo Studio, PictureShow, Photo Toaster, Filterstorm


JC – Who and what are your influences?

AK – Now there’s a tough question. I’m very sensitive to my environment and find inspiration in most everything with which I come into contact. Limiting the discussion to artistic influences still involves an extensive list. As a small boy, the photos I found in Life, National Geographic and other such periodicals captivated me. As a teenager and young adult, my fascination for B&W work and capturing the moment led me Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, André Kertész, Man Ray and others. The list has continued to grow over the years, but these more or less formed the basis from where I started.

I also derive great inspiration from most forms of the visual arts, music, literature, and architecture. Listing off names that come immediately to mind includes Rothko, Modigliani, Hundertwasser, Kafka, Wittgenstein, William S. Burroughs, Tanizaki Junichiro, Abe Kobo, Kobayashi Hideo, Ozu Yasujiro, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Serge Chaloff, Tom Waits, John Cale, Duke Ellington, Bob Dylan, Little Feat, Frank Zappa, Leonard Cohen and more.



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Mutual Appreciation’ – Apps used: Slow Shutter Cam, Photo fx, Dynamic Light, ScratchCam FX, Autostitch Panorama, Pixlr-o-matic, Filterstorm


JC – What draws you to the subjects you seek?

AK – I’d have to say it is the mood I perceive in any given subject or scene. At the risk of sounding dated, you could even call it the vibration I feel from a given subject. Vibration (and mathematics) is at the core of music, art, architecture and most things that trigger my senses, and I pick up on those. I’m particularly drawn to geometry, form, motion and the ‘perpetual sense of slight imbalance that keeps us on our toes.’ 🙂



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Wall Flowers’ – Apps used: Slow Shutter Cam, Photo fx, Dynamic Light, Camera Awesome, Filterstorm


JC – What is it about these subjects that you want to capture/communicate and ultimately convey in your images?

AK – I seek to convey the emotion or mood, as I perceived it when capturing the moment. That said, I love leaving interpretation open to the viewer and learn a great deal from reading or listening to the reactions expressed by those who view my work. This serves as impetus to create some of my abstract pieces, as these lead to a wider variety of interpretations. In the end, it’s all about effectively telling a story.  How that story is interpreted will of course vary according to the ‘reader’. 🙂




Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Crossing the Rubicon’ – Apps used: Lomora 2, Filterstorm (plus add-ion fisheye lens)


JC – How did you ‘settle’ on this subject?

AK – I’m a simple boy so, rather than consciously settle on a subject, I simply follow my instincts and impulses. That means shooting when I see something that moves me or draws me in.



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘HerRo’s Hotel’ – Apps used: Lomora 2, DXP, Juxtaposer, Photocopier, Filterstorm


JC – Is there another are/subject that you would like to explore, if so, what and why?

AK – Rather than a specific subject, there are projects I would like to pursue. That includes a series of minimalist images and some interesting plays on forms that appeal to my eye, (angles, lighting and such.)



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Hongo AM’ – Apps Used – Lomora 2, DXP, Filterstorm


JC – Which photographers (not necessarily mobile photographers) do you most admire and why?

AK – In addition to those I’ve listed in question 2 above, (Bresson, Capa, Kertész, Man Ray), I’m quite drawn to the work of Saul Leiter, Vivian Maier, Lisette Model and others. I also draw inspiration to some degree from all photographers and photographic artists whose images I view and with whom I interact. That includes both those found within the iPhoneography community and those from the broader world of photography.

Street Photography…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – Please Stop Nuking My Eggs!’ – Apps used: Camera+, PictureShow, Photo fx, Iris Photo Suite, Filterstorm


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?

AK – Given the small size, even in relation to a rangefinder camera, and the inconspicuous nature in a crowd of phone users, there’s no doubt that mobile phones/devices offer some advantages in this respect.



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Intermediate Frequency’ – Apps Used – Lomora 2, DXP, Filterstorm


JC – Tell us about your photographic technique – do you rely on intuition or do you believe in a more formal/trained approach?

AK – I think it’s a mixed bag. I try mostly to rely on my intuition and emotions when capturing images. That said, it’s hard for anybody with formal training to not remain conscious of lighting, rules of composition and such when aiming to capture effective images. Remaining conscious of the fundamentals can also help one to break the rules, when the urge grows strong or the opportunity presents itself.

All For One…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Backstage Pass’ – Apps Used – Slow Shutter Cam, Photo fx, Spica, Filterstorm, DXP, Pic Grunge


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?

AK – I think the only way to expand one’s self and progress down the path of growth is to shoot for ‘themselves’. So, with the exception of commercial work, my answer is an emphatic, yes. With all the praise heaped on folks in an arguably premature fashion, I do fear that some wind up squeezed into a mold where they shoot what they think the community wishes to see. It’s painful to watch this struggle, and equally joyful to observe those who break free of those fetters and find their own path.



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘pondering metaphors’ – Apps used: Lomora 2, Photo Toaster, Magic Hour, Filterstorm, (plus Olloclip fisheye lens)


JC – How has your photography evolved?

AK – Good question. I don’t think my basic approach to photography has changed so much in recent years. Still, there is something to the all-body experience of shooting with the iPhone (mobile device) that makes for a new experience. Couple that with the rich variety of available capture and editing apps, and it does lead to many exciting new forms of experimentation. So, in addition to the straight-up color and monochrome compositions I continue to enjoy creating, the iPhone ecosystem has also freed me to explore layering and compositing to create more abstract pieces than I ever attempted with film & paper, or even with digital cameras and Photoshop.



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Horatio’s Flight’ – Apps Used: Slow Shutter Cam, Photo fx, 6×6, PictureShow, ScratchCam FX, King Camera, Filterstorm


JC – Do you take risks with photographs, push boundaries? If yes, please give examples, if no, why not, would you like to?

AK – Indeed. I believe wholeheartedly in taking risks and pushing boundaries. That’s another positive way to grow and expand one’s palette, as it were. When shooting, that involves setting challenges for myself, such as capturing certain subjects from extreme angles, taking on challenging lighting conditions, limiting the type of subject, the physical range in which I shoot, etc. It also includes the use of capture apps that affect the result.

Favorite Image…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Three Squared’ – Apps used: Slow Shutter Cam, Photo fx, Dynamic Light, 6×6, Superimpose, King Camera, Camera Awesome, Filterstorm


JC – What is your favorite picture, of your own and why?

AK – I find it impossible to name a single photo of mine as a favorite, partly because I want to believe that my favorite photo is yet to be captured. It’s best to stay hungry, after all. 🙂

As I aim to capture my emotional response to a given scene, and as this is somewhat affected by my mood or other conditions at the time, it wouldn’t be difficult to add a short story to almost all my images explaining why they are significant to me.

Emotional Involvement…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Frank was on his way home’ – Apps used: Slow Shutter Cam, Photo fx, Dynamic Light, ScratchCam FX, DXP, Filterstorm


JC – Do you get emotionally involved with your photography?

AK – Yes and no. While I try to maintain a level of objectivity behind the camera, there are some scenes that can’t help but move the soul. And I get extremely involved when editing some images. From time to time, there’s something special that comes out in the process that brings the piece much closer to my heart. I’ve experienced highly emotional moments as I completed images I really cared for, or that carried particular significance to me. Of course, that often coincides with times I’ve been awake all night and finish the piece after the morning newspaper arrives. 🙂



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Shootout at the RDF Corral’ – Apps used: Slow Shutter Cam, Photo fx, Dynamic Light, ScratchCam FX, DXP, Filterstorm


JC – Does your life become entwined with your subjects?

AK – As Nacho Cordova – an important figure in our community even close to a year after his passing – would have said, only in as much as we are all merely interconnected dots that form the thread of our existence.



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Tubularity’ – Apps used: Camera+, Photo fx, Filterstorm


JC – Do you have a digital workflow system to sort your images, if so what is it?

AK – I wish I could claim to have perfected a system. Best I’ve managed to date is to save everything on the large hard disk drive of my desktop machine, including the too-many images I create during processing. I recently began keeping images in process, those I intend to work on, textures, completed pieces and such in sorted albums that I sync back to the phone. Having accomplished that, I cleared my Camera Roll of a few thousand images. It feels wonderful!

Post-Production (Processing)…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘The Feeder’ – Apps used: Camera+, Photo fx, Tiny Planet Photos, Pixlr-o-matic, Filterstorm


JC – Do you have a special processing style?

AK – I certainly have my preferred methods and proclivities, which change with my mood. Still, I prefer to experiment and take on new challenges rather than to stick to the same method time and again. It’s true that I tend to use some apps more than others, including Filterstorm.

Tips For Processing…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘The Night Watchman’ – Apps used: Lomora 2, 6×6, Tiny Planet Photos, Juxtaposer, Spica, ScratchCam FX, DXP, Snapseed, Filterstorm

JC – Do you have any tips for processing?

AK – The thing I’d like to stress most is to take the time to do the job thoroughly and do it right. That means striving to create images that look good at full resolution, and to work at resolutions that take full advantage of the camera in the iPhone (or mobile device of preference.) I came into iPhoneography after working years with film and later with DSLR cameras, and was always conscious of printing at the largest possible size. With that goal in mind, it always seemed of paramount importance to me to take the time to attend to the finest details, including those that other folks will never really see or notice. [rant] Too many works I see look okay on say Instagram. But take them to the big screen or try and print them at any reasonable size, and one quickly sees what a sloppy mess they are. [/end rant]



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Shinjuku Shortcut’ – Apps used: Camera+, Photo fx, Simply B&W, Juxtaposer, Iris Photo Suite, Filterstorm


JC – How do you think photography has changed over the years?

AK – The transition from analogue to digital brought major change to the medium itself and to the photographer’s workflow. The current price of compact digital cameras and freedom from processing costs has also made photography available to a much wider audience.

Still, photography has always been about pursuing the latest technologies and about change. That includes the change of the times as much as the hardware. I believe one of the major challenges of the present predominance of digital work will be to preserve the original data in the hopes that they might still be viewed some years down the road. Negatives and the printed page do continue to have their advantages.

35 mm Film Days…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Archetype (Yasuda Kodo)’ – Apps used: Lomora 2, Filterstorm


JC – As a mobile photographer you’re at the cutting edge of technology, do you ever hanker for the 35mm film days?

AK – While I am content with the convenience and versatility of the digital experience, I must admit that I do still get cravings to bulk load my own film, develop it, and then take the time to print. Nothing beats playing with an enlarger or watching an image emerge in the tray of developer fluid. The one thing I absolutely do not miss is the sulphur stench of sepia. (I used to produce a good number of sepia prints on bromide paper, which I later hand-colored with specialized oil paints.)

Contact Details For Alan


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Urban air pocket’ – Apps Used – Lomora2, iDarkroom, Photo fx, Camera+, Filterstorm


If you would like to contact Alan, we have included his details below:


Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/transistorwallah/

IPA: http://www.iphoneart.com/tabiwallah

Tumblr: http://tabiwallah.tumblr.com/

EYE’EM: http://www.eyeem.com/streams/show/user:3898

500px: http://500px.com/AlanKastner

Instagram: wallah

Twitter: @tabiwallah


Joanne Carter, creator of the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website— TheAppWhisperer.com— TheAppWhisperer platform has been a pivotal cyberspace for mobile artists of all abilities to learn about, to explore, to celebrate and to share mobile artworks. Joanne’s compassion, inclusivity, and humility are hallmarks in all that she does, and is particularly evident in the platform she has built. In her words, “We all have the potential to remove ourselves from the centre of any circle and to expand a sphere of compassion outward; to include everyone interested in mobile art, ensuring every artist is within reach”, she has said. Promotion of mobile artists and the art form as a primary medium in today’s art world, has become her life’s focus. She has presented lectures bolstering mobile artists and their art from as far away as the Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea to closer to her home in the UK at Focus on Imaging. Her experience as a jurist for mobile art competitions includes: Portugal, Canada, US, S Korea, UK and Italy. And her travels pioneering the breadth of mobile art includes key events in: Frankfurt, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Paris, Brazil, London. Pioneering the world’s first mobile art online gallery - TheAppWhispererPrintSales.com has extended her reach even further, shipping from London, UK to clients in the US, Europe and The Far East to a global group of collectors looking for exclusive art to hang in their homes and offices. The online gallery specialises in prints for discerning collectors of unique, previously unseen signed limited edition art. Her journey towards becoming The App Whisperer, includes (but is not limited to) working for a paparazzi photo agency for several years and as a deputy editor for a photo print magazine. Her own freelance photographic journalistic work is also widely acclaimed. She has been published extensively both within the UK and the US in national and international titles. These include The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Popular Photography & Imaging, dpreview, NikonPro, Which? and more recently with the BBC as a Contributor, Columnist at Vogue Italia and Contributing Editor at LensCulture. Her professional photography has also been widely exhibited throughout Europe, including Italy, Portugal and the UK. She is currently writing several books, all related to mobile art and is always open to requests for new commissions for either writing or photography projects or a combination of both. Please contact her at: [email protected]


  • carlein

    a fantastic interview with images that blow your mind… you and your work are truly inspirational to no end…

    • alan kastner

      Oops! It was remiss of me to not mention how grateful I am for all the inspiration I’ve drawn from your work and for all the encouragement you’ve shared in your highly unique fashion. :-)*

  • Cara Gallardo Weil

    Wonderful and inspiring! I like your workflow method… think I will start doing that and stop getting rid of all my steps in between… you never know when they might come in handy!

    • alan kastner

      Thanks much, Cara. I do think that saving all the steps is a good way to go. The downside in my case is that, working in a meditative state and experimenting with so many variations as I go, it can become difficult to determine which files are the ones that truly represent the workflow for the piece. Wish I could say I was patient enough, or worked methodically enough, to dutifully note the specifics and file name (number) involved at each point of the process where I made a directional decision. Must work on improving that aspect. 🙂

  • Elaine (Luxtra)

    Inspiring interview, Alan – very much enjoyed it (and viewing my favorites of yours)! 🙂

    • alan kastner

      Thank you, Elaine! I’m glad you enjoyed the read. I hope you know how much I appreciate the encouragement and support you’ve offered throughout my journey, not to mention the inspiration your work offers. 🙂

  • Rad

    Engaging interview, Alan, and your work is so provocative! Great to get into your head a bit.