Welcome to our very exciting column on theappwhisperer.com. This section entitled ‘A day in the life of …’ and this is where we take a look at some hugely influential, interesting and accomplished individuals in the mobile photography world. People that we think you will love to learn more about.
This is our sixty fifth installment of the series, if you have missed our previous interviews, please go here. Today, we are featuring Andy Royston an award winning artist, photographer and designer with over thirty years experience in Europe and the U.S.A. As creative Director of one of Florida’s leading design agencies he has worked with clients across a range of industries including motorsports, restaurants, hospitality and retail.
He is the artist behind the daily FtLauderdaleSun project, which shares images of a beach dawn each morning live from Fort Lauderdale beach. His work has been shown internationally, and in 2012 he held hist first solo show ‘First Wave’ at the Art4Vision Gallery in Ft Lauderdale. He is a Community Ambassador at the Museum of Discovery and Science where he gives regular presentations on his work, and he also is running a series of workshops and classes at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale’s AutoNation Academy. He moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2000 after ten successful years at BBC News in London, where he achieved the highest national and international industry awards. Prior to the BBC he specialized in design and art direction for magazines, record labels, magazine publishers and non-profit organizations. He is an honors graduate in advertising from Manchester Metropolitan University and has been resident in Fort Lauderdale since 2000.
Read more about Andy in the following interview. You can find all the links to the apps mentioned at the end of this article.
(If you would like to be interviewed for our new ‘A day in the life of …’ section, just send an email to Joanne@theappwhisperer.com, and we’ll get it set up.)
© Andy Royston
First Things First
© Andy Royston – ‘A New Day’ – Camera+, Iris Photosuite
Joanne – Let’s start at the beginning of the day, how does your day start?
Andy – I’m usually up around an hour before sunrise, taking in some coffee and the news via the internet before heading out in the beachmobile, aiming to arrive at my favorite stretch of beach alongside Hugh Taylor Birch State Park on Ft Lauderdale’s North Atlantic Boulevard at 20 minutes before sunrise.
© Andy Royston – ‘Beachlight’ – Slowshutter, Camera+, Iris Photosuite, Blender
Joanne – Do you like to head out and take photographs early on?
Andy – This is the only time I take photographs, and it forms the heart and soul of all my published work. 99% of my images are shot before 8.30am. I started an iphoneography project as an experiment to create a live photography event – photos and videos shared via social media in real time. To me this was iPhone’s game-changer.
The intent originally was to extend an event format into other arenas, particularly motorsports as I had Indycar and NASCAR clients, but this didn’t prove practical. FtLauderdaleSun the name of the twitter account that hosted this experiment – became popular quite quickly, and soon my images of the FtLauderdale dawn shared within minutes of being taken took on a life of their own. Along the way I used posterous.com, then tumblr.com to support it but twitter provides the core of the projects audience to this day.
I developed a strict rule that’s now a defining philosophy. I do all editing and sharing directly from the shore, and I consider an image complete as soon as I step back over the sea wall. This capture-the-moment approach has created something I call ‘fresh photography’. The image that results is a spontaneous and instinctive reaction to the scene so that the resulting work is true to the moment.
The walk is part of a regular exercise regime for me, so taking photos along the way is part of my morning.
Photographers vs Mobile Photographer
© Andy Royston – ‘BigE’sBigDawning’ – Camera+, Iris Photosuite, Photogene
Joanne – How did the transition from traditional photographer to mobile photographer develop? (pardon the pun).
Andy – A challenging question because I don’t and never have considered myself a photographer. Not in the artistic sense. As part of my work as a designer I’ve taken many photographs in a professional context, generally out at events or on location. I don’t see a connection between the two worlds as there are big differences in the image-making processes; the visual images we create, and how we use and share them with the world.
© Andy Royston – ‘Breaker-TheEdgeOfTheWave’ – Apps: Camera+, Iris Photosuite
Joanne – Do you like to download new apps regularly?
Andy – Truth be told I don’t. I do keep most of the popular apps to hand and do pay attention to the ideas of others. But in the field I opt for apps that are quick and achieve predictable results. It’s an area I know changes a lot and if I find a speedy app I’ll give it a whirl. I do hate it when a great app upgrades and isn’t so great any more, though. I’d love to have Photogene2 back.
© Andy Royston – ‘Breaker-TouchTheOcean’ – Apps: Camera+, Iris Photosuite
Joanne – How often do you update your existing apps?
Andy – Not often. I have a distrust of developers who do not involve themselves in their core users and as a consequence have no idea of why their app is popular. I don’t find upgrades improve the experience necessarily.
Location, Location, Location
© Andy Royston – ‘Breaker’ – Apps: Camera+, Iris Photosuite
Joanne – Where’s your favorite place in the world for a shoot?
Andy – Wherever there’s a vista and a sunrise! Fort Lauderdale Beach is less than a mile from where I live so that’s become my spiritual home. But if I’m on holiday or visiting family that dawn walk still happens.
Tools Of The Trade
© Andy Royston – ‘BreakOfDawn’ – Apps: Camera+, Iris Photosuite
Joanne – Do you also use iPhone photography tool apps, such as The Photographer’s Ephemeris and if so do you use it to plan your shoots?
Andy – I had to look that up! And what a great app it is. The one app I do use a great deal is on my trips to the UK I have Routebuddy’s Ordinance Survey map collection, which allows me to zoom in on footpaths, contours and such. In the UK there is a wonderful footpath network that isn’t marked on apps like Ephemeris. OS shows these in great detail.
I use Tide app, Radarscope (essential for dodging the rain!) and Nightsky to identify stars. I’ll shoot whatever the weather. It is what it is, scene wise.
© Andy Royston – ‘CopperdawnFlightpath’ – Apps: Camera+, Iris Photosuite, PS Express
Joanne – What are your favorite, at the moment, iPhoneography apps?
Andy – I juggle my images between Camera+ and Iris right now, and although there’s a few things I’d like to see improved (Iris compresses portrait shots on iPhone4) they help me improve most shots I take.
© Andy Royston – ‘DrippingGolden’ – Apps: Camera+, Iris Photosuite, Perfectly Clear
Joanne – Where do you like to upload your photographs? Flickr, Instagram?
Andy – These two you mention, yes, but as a supplement to my main Twitter feed, which since day one has been my main project base. I have my own blog, from which I share to Pinterest. I also have a thriving following on Facebook, where I upload one image a day.
© Andy Royston – ‘FireyDawn’ – Apps: Camera+, PS Express
Joanne – Do you take photographs with your iPhone everyday?
Andy – It’s safe to say I take over 100 a day, devoting 90 minutes exclusively to my dawn shoots. I once worked out that I’ve spent well over 3000 hours shooting with an iPhone, so every day is an understatement.
© Andy Royston – ‘FivePalmColors’ – Apps: Camera+, PerfectlyClear
Joanne – What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
Andy – I’d say it’s the ocean. Don’t laugh! I know that pretty much ALL my shots are of this subject one way or another. I’m really interested in creating visually striking ocean landscapes, drawing out the shapes and sculptures of a breaking wave and how light and weather interplay. I like to cheat scale and create new ways of seeing the waves.
I’m ever mindful of the different audiences for my work, and tend to keep my more experimental and artful pieces for my own website and for Flickr. This actually helps create variety in what many might see as a very narrow subject.
© Andy Royston – ‘FivePalmsDeepOrange’ – Apps: Slowshutter,, Iris Photosuite, Blender
Joanne – How did the teaching side come along?
Andy – Being offered the chance to talk about my work by Fort Lauderdale’s Museum of Discovery and Science has been a great step , as I get to talk about my subjects shooting daily gives me a unique view of a beach’s changing seasons, and I now have a great working knowledge of Florida’s marine wildlife to share. I can talk for days on this subject so teaching is second nature. I have had a great deal of experience both as an iPhoneographer and an image-maker so am well placed to share my experiences.
Top Five Tips
© Andy Royston – ‘Lauderdalesky’ – Apps: Camera+, Iris Photosuite
Joanne – What are your top five tips for iPhone photography?
Andy – Be active. The fixed focal length of the mobile phone means that you can’t reach in to get the shot the zoom isn’t any good – so learn to become more active; move around to get the best point of view. Soon you will learn that getting close to your subjects means becoming more involved in what you are shooting.
Shoot from the shade. If the sun is in your field of vision try to place something between you and the sun. The iPhone sensors will then not be factoring in the brightness and will give you a better shot.
Shoot several different versions of things. Sometimes a change of exposure, or using different filter apps (Lomora, Hipstamatic, Puddingcam) can result in vastly different and surprising results.
Create perspectives. A shot can be improved so much by the inclusion of something a bird, a plane, a passerby that helps place the scale and perspective of the subject and creates some drama if the difference is marked.
Make the familiar unfamiliar. Nothing creates more interest than showing something we know well in a new light or new look.
© Andy Royston – ‘MightyLikeAWave’ – Apps: Camera+, Iris Photosuite, Photogene
Joanne – Do you edit images on your iPhone or do you prefer to do that on a desktop/laptop?
Andy – Always on the iPhone and always at the scene. I’ve been known to correct a horizon in iPhoto (I’m a straight horizon obsessive) but that is the whole of it. Everything you see is fresh from the scene.
© Andy Royston – ‘OceandawnHaze’ – Apps: Camera+, Iris Photosuite
Joanne – Do you enjoy videography with your iPhone?
Andy – When I started out I shared at least one video clip, and expected sharing of video to be much bigger than it turned out to be. Few people share videos, sad to say, and it’s as true now as three years ago.
Technically I’m not too shabby I did work in television for ten years though! I have a steady hand but still not steady enough. And upload times are still too long.
The Future Of Mobile Photography
© Andy Royston – ‘Oceanfoaming’ – Apps: Camera+
Joanne – Where do you see the future of iPhone photography?
Andy – I know that there’s a big movement towards terms like Mobile Photography but I still think that there’s room to define what we are doing as distinctive as a medium and as a fully-fledged art form.
One aspect that really defines our work is sharing. I sometimes use the term ‘social photography’ as this mobile device has changed the way that a generation sees and records their lives. ‘Photography’ is to me a detached, self-contained and professional experience. What we do is involved, sociable and personal. This is still a world of difference.
© Andy Royston – ‘OldMasterSun’ – Apps: Camera+, PS Express
Joanne – Why do you think it is so popular?
Andy – The simple sharing of our lives. It’s become a visual shorthand that is now a part of everyday life.
© Andy Royston – ‘PaddleOn’ – Apps: Camera+, Filterstorm
Joanne – Do you think it’s country specific, are some nations more clued up?
Andy – It’s hard to judge as I don’t participate in non-English language communities. But at the moment between 20% and 30% of my FtLauderdaleSun shared on Twitter are from South Korea. I’ve no idea why but Annyeong Haseyo anyway!
© Andy Royston – ‘Paddlesplash’ – Apps: Camera+, Iris Photosuite
Joanne – What did you hope for in the iPhone 5?
Andy – Quicker processing and upload times without a doubt. Taking a 3GS or a 4 into the English countryside makes me realize just how my work is dependent upon my big city connection.
© Andy Royston – ‘PelicansWay’ – Apps: Camera+, PS Express
Joanne – What do you think of Joanne and theappwhisperer.com?
Andy – As someone who shoots naturalistically apps haven’t been my focus, and I find the never-ending parade of new a little overwhelming. I don’t own or have the least interest in the iPad so this is another side to the site I have no connection to. You do a wonderful job and so consistent too!!