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 Richard Koci Hernandez, we previously interviewed Richard in our A Day In The Life of Series, if you missed that you can read it here.
Richard is a national Emmy-award-winning video and multimedia producer who worked as a photographer at the San Jose Mercury News for 15 years. A two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, Hernandez is currently on the faculty at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he teaches various new media courses, including mobile reporting. In 2011 he presented a mobile photography master class at the TED2012 conference.
Richard is huge in the mobile photography world and works closely with Lynda.com producing some incredible mobile photography tutorials. He is at the cutting edge of this new era of photography and has incredible insight. In this interview, Richard explains his emotional involvement with photography as well as his instincts in capturing images in time and space. He also reveals his digital workflow system and post processing tips and there’s so much more.
Richard is a self-confessed TheAppWhisperer.com addict and we are so pleased to feature him again, check out the full interview below…
Each image is titled with the apps used to create it in sequential order. You can find all the links the the apps mentioned 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).
First Things First…
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘We ask for long life, but ’tis deep life, or noble moments that signify. Let the measure of time be spiritual, not mechanical’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Filterstorm
JC – How did you get started in photography?
RCH – I was 14 on a camping trip at Yosemite National Park and was visiting the Ansel Adams Gallery and was immediately struck by the artistry and the power of the medium. Once I walked outside the museum and was able to see in real life what Ansel had photographed the urge to take pictures and naively attempt to mimic Ansel was so strong that I immediately grabbed my uncle’s camera. So the photography bug bit me early and funny enough I still have that camera and never gave it back to my uncle so owe him a great deal for letting me keep the camera.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘Depth must be hidden. Where? On the surface’ – Hugo von Hofmannsthal – Apps Used -Hipstamatic, Filterstorm
JC – Who and what are your influences?
RCH – My influences are the people and situations around me. They are very strong influencers of my photography so I don’t take inspiration or influence from anything other than the moment and the people and situations that present themselves to me. If I am walking down the street and I happen to be influenced or pulled in the direction of a person, light or a situation, I allow that to influence me. I allow the moment to keep me in its magnetic pull and I move towards it and what happens after that is generally a photograph. So that’s the way I perceive my influences.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Filterstorm
JC – What draws you to the subjects you seek?
RCH – What draws me to the subjects is really a deep sense of mystery. First, it’s a mystery to me why I’m drawn to my subject matter and it’s not for lack of introspection. I often think about my photography and I haven’t quite unraveled the mystery. I think that deep inside there are missing pieces in my life and I’m using photography and specifically street photography to try and find those missing pieces.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘Prometheus, are you seeing this?’ – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Filterstorm
JC – What is it about these subjects that you want to capture/communicate and ultimately convey in your images?
RCH – Again I come back to the sense of being driven and influenced by a mystery. I think that ultimately it’s that mystery that I’m trying to convey to viewers. I want to say that there is something familiar in what you see, but there is also something more underneath the surface or lurking in the shadows or just around the corner or just outside of the frame. I’m creating or attempting to create a sense contrast – shadow and mystery.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves’ – Buddha – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Filterstorm, ScratchCam, Lo-Mob
JC – How did you ‘settle’ on this subject?
RCH – I really don’t feel like I’ve settled on my subject I feel like the subject has settled on me. It feels like a very large person has decided to come and sit on my chest and keep me hostage. As often as I try to explore other avenues of photography, this entity seems to always find me and sit back down on me. It’s very comforting. The subject of my photography has chosen me and I feel very honored and i return the favor by continuing to explore that subject.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez –’ We move in and out of darkness and light all our lives. Right now I’m pleased to be in the light’ – Neal Shusterman Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Fliterstorm, Lo-Mob
JC – Is there another are/subject that you would like to explore, if so, what and why?
RCH – As I said above, I have tried other avenues and processes and have always felt a bit like an interloper. I feel very comfortable in my current process and o I’m not particularly looking for or feel compelled to find another subject to explore right now.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners’ ~William Shakespeare – Canon5d (original), Printed on inkjet, reshoot on iPhone through the lens of twin lens camera, Apps Used – ScratchCam, Filterstorm, 645Pro
JC – Which photographers (not necessarily mobile photographers) do you most admire and why?
RCH – That would be a very long list! I am a self taught photographer and everything I learned I learned from spending hours and hours in libraries looking through the books of the great masters and trying to learn from them. They were my photo school and I have been influenced by all of them. To name a few, Josef Koudelka, William Klein, Elliot Erwitt, Robert Frank, Leon Levinstein and Gary Winogrand. Specifically I would point to one major influence and that would be the work of Roy Decarava. I particularly love his work because it was born out of pure love of recording what was happening around him. There’s such an honesty and integrity to his work. You can feel the very strong person nature of his images. I see a wonderful sense of style and I think he thought of himself as a human being first and a photographer second and it’s something that I think has stuck with me.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again’ -Bikram Choudhury – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, ScracthCam, King Camera
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?
RCH – Absolutely! What happened with Bresson and the Leica, the portability of the camera and what he was able to do is very much the same in terms of what mobile devices are doing to street photography now. Some would argue and successfully I might add, that we can still do the same thing with a proper camera and don’t need the mobility of the camera. I would argue that in our post 9/11 hyper-vigilant world the mobile device aids in capturing candid moments. It’s a personal view and of course doesn’t define every photographer.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other’ – Charles Dickens – Apps Used – 654Pro, Lo-Mob
JC – Tell us about your photographic technique – do you rely on intuition or do you believe in a more formal/trained approach?
RCH – I’m a very reactionary image-maker. When my head and heart scream shoot, I shoot. Photography, for me, is about honoring the impulse to make an image, no matter what. Shoot. YES. YES. YES. Shoot. Shoot. YES.
All For One…
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘An optimist is a person who sees only the lights in the picture, whereas a pessimist sees only the shadows. An idealist, however, is one who sees the light and the shadows, but in addition sees something else: the possibility of changing the picture, of making the lights prevail over the shadows’ – anonymous – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Filterstorm, CameraAwesome
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?
RCH – I’ve always felt this a bit pretentious. Deep down we all want to be accepted, loved and admired, we’re always creating for ourselves AND others. If they were only shooting for ‘themselves’ then they would have never let the world see their work, or even put it in a family album for others to see. On a certain level photography is a very personal matter, but in the end we all want to share, it’s human nature, why deny it?
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all’ ~Ralph Waldo Emerson – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Lo-Mob
JC – How has your photography evolved?
RCH – The same as my personality, calmer and more reflective with time.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves’ ~Victor Frankl – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Lo-Mob
JC – Do you take risks with photographs, push boundaries? If yes, please give examples, if no, why not, would you like to?
RCH – No, why not, would you like to? I’ve never thought about this in regards to my own imagery. Pondering it now, I think every photographic venture is a risk. In every click or tap of the shutter there exists a potential failure to properly communicate.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree’ – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, ScratchCam, Lo-Mob, King Camera
JC – What is your favorite picture, of your own and why?
RCH – I haven’t taken it yet. Pretentious, I know. But if i ever felt satisfied with an image I think I would lose my drive to continue. It’s a photographic defense mechanism.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez –’A man’s errors are his portals of discovery’ – James Joyce – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Lo-mob
JC – Do you get emotionally involved with your photography?
RCH – For me photography is all about emotion. It’s about instinct and the push and pull of capturing images in time and space. It’s impossible not be emotionally attached. My life becomes intwined with my subjects in a very kind of fantastical way. Because I shoot strangers and I live with these strangers via the photos, they become part of my life. They are now in my mind eye, so I make-up potential stories of who they might be and what they were thinking at the time they were photographed. Of course there is certain involvement with my subjects, I think it’s part of the mystery of photography. But I’m certainly not obsessive about it or anything 😉
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘No matter what age you are, or what your circumstances might be, you are special, and you still have something unique to offer. Your life, because of who you are, has meaning’ – Barbara de Angelis – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, ScratchCam, King Camera
JC – Does your life become entwined with your subjects?
RCH – Feel like I answered that already.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs’ – Vance Havner – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, King Camera, FilterStorm
JC – Do you have a digital workflow system to sort your images, if so what is it?
RCH – No. I simply shoot on the phone, edit and process on the device as well.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live’ ~Nicolas de Chamfort – Apps Used – Procamera, Filterstorm, Lo-Mob
JC – Do you have a special processing style?
RCH – I’m a fan of having my black and white street images look as if they were stuffed in an old shoe-box for the last 30 years. Or that you looked down on the street and found an image that 100 people just stepped-on. I very much try to bring an analog feel to my digital images. For me, that means finding the right borders, tones and virtual scratches for my images. That takes time. For example a typical post process session might go like this, thing you might describe as App-stacking:
1. Shoot original image in an app like Hipstamatic or ProCamera.
2. Import the image from my camera roll into another app like Camera+ to add some more tone or even another black and white filter.
3. Import the image into yet another app to add a border. (optional)
4. Import again to add minimal scratches in an app like ScratchCam. (optional)
5. Import into Instagram and post. (Note: I rarely use the Instagram filters.)
I’ve also been known to add some real analog love to my images in something I’ve called round-tripping, but others call flip-flopping.
Repeat steps 1-4 from above, but before step 5, I print out the image on my printer, then apply real scratches via a butter knife or fold the print, then re-photograph the result with my iPhone, then post to Instagram.
Tips For Processing…
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can’ ~Danny Kaye – Apps Used – Camera+, ScratchCam
JC – Do you have any tips for processing?
RCH – Less is more, Don’t over do it. Even though I might be describe in old-school darkroom terms as having a heavy hand, I generally try to restrain myself. Work hard to find what works for you. I think that everybody needs to find their own post-processing on recipe. One must experiment and become be familiar with the post-processing tools, so they they can know just how much of this and that to sprinkle on their images. Ultimately I would say, find what works for you and play and if you haven’t found what works for you start looking, it’s a process of exploration so have fun.
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one’ -Einstein – Apps Used – Hipstamatic, Juxtaposer
JC – How do you think photography has changed over the years?
RCH – I believe we haven’t seen the real change, yet. We talk about a digital revolution but I have a sinking suspicion that photography will change so radically in the near future that we’ll need to look for another name for this new kind of photography. I think that final output, the image will still feel/look like photography, but I think the tools and the technology that we use to create will be radically different. We’re seeing things move in that direction with the Lytro camera and how it’s beginning to eliminate this idea of focus. I think a lot more things are coming in the future and will technologies like Lytro will mature. We are certainly living through the social photography revolution. It impacts every photographer or anyone who chooses to participate and has the added benefit of photographic visibility on a level that is unprecedented. The audience is more visual and more engaged or more present than ever.
35 mm Film Days…
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain’ – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – Apps Used Procamera, Filterstorm
JC – As a mobile photographer you’re at the cutting edge of technology, do you ever hanker for the 35mm film days?
RCH – Ssssh, don’t tell anybody, but I have been known to still shoot an occasional roll of film and real even real Polaroids.
Links To All Apps Used And Mentioned In This Article…
Contact Details For Richard
Copyright Image – Richard Koci Hernandez – ‘“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do’ – Helen Keller quotes (American Author and Educator who was blind and deaf. Apps Used – Hipstamatic
Web site: www.richardkocihernandez.com