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Vision & Voice – “Start a Digital Journal for Inspiration” – By Cindy Patrick


We’re delighted to publish the latest article by our Columnists Cindy Patrick to her Column Vision & Voice. If you’ve missed Cindy’s previous introduction to this section of the site, please take a read here:

‘Welcome to “Vision & Voice”, my own little corner of The App Whisperer! In this column, I hope to share my thoughts on these two concepts that go hand-in-hand toward defining who we are as a mobile photographers/artists. Vision is what drives us to pick up our iPhones and capture a subject we feel passionately about. Voice is the expression of our vision, the means by which we communicate to the viewer how we feel about our subject. If you are a reader of The App Whisperer, then your vision is most likely expressed by creating images using our mobile devices and the myriad of apps available to us. My hope is to help you become a better mobile artist/photographer by discovering your vision and refining your technique to express yourself in the best possible way. Please join me, as I share my own ongoing journey of discovery and also share the work and stories of others as they too search for their own vision and voice!’

In this fabulous article today, Cindy talks about inspiration and how to find it when it takes a little trip… over to you Cindy (foreword by Joanne Carter)



‘As I creative artist, I often get “stuck” and feel like I’ve run out of ideas. Some of the things I do to get “unstuck” is to look at the work of other artists, read inspirational books on creativity, or simply go to an unfamiliar place and soak up a new environment, perhaps taking photos without any intention of showing them to anyone but myself. To me, all these things are akin to keeping a journal, a journal of inspiration that I can turn to for ideas when I feel I’ve run out of them. The problem for me, is that most of the stuff that inspires me is found online in my daily perusal of various websites, blogs and social media. Even the books I read, I predominantly read on my iPad, so keeping everything together is not as easy as clipping an article or photo out of a magazine and pasting into a physical journal. So how do I keep all of this in one place? A place I can return to when I’m stuck and feeling like I need some fresh ideas?

What I’ve started to do quite recently is to keep a digital journal of all the things I encounter online each day that catch my eye or spark my imagination in some way. This consists of anything that inspires me for any reason: A section of an article or book, a photograph or painting I see on someone’s blog or website, or something someone posted on Facebook. Sometimes I will encounter something while I’m waiting in line at the bank or grocery store – a color, a pattern, a snippet of conversation – and I might snap a quick photo with my iPhone or make a note with the Notes app. I don’t always know why something speaks to me, but I’ve learned to listen to my inner voice and trust that at some point in the future, I will use that spark to create something of my own. In my first Vision & Voice article for The App Whisperer, I suggested following your heart and seeking out those things that move you to grab your iPhone and start shooting. I recommended getting in touch with the things you love and urged you to start shooting those things. So fill your digital journal with things you love! Don’t worry about how they will find their way into your art, just trust that they will. So how exactly do you make a digital journal?



Caption – I follow a blog called “Plenty of Color,” which I find to be very inspirational. Here is something I clipped and added to my digital journal for future reference. I liked the quote and I also liked the orange/pink color combo. I’m sure it will make its way into my work at some point in the future! The crayons are pretty cool, too!


Conceivably, I could print out all the things I find online that inspire me and paste them into a physical journal or sketchbook. But what I’ve found to be a very simple way of collecting all the digital snippets and bits and pieces of inspiration I encounter daily is to make screen captures of them. A screen capture is exactly what it sounds like a picture of your computer screen. But I also do this on my iPhone and my iPad while I’m reading or browsing websites and blogs. At the end of each day or week, I take all of my screen captures and put them in a folder on my computer, thereby creating a digital journal, a place where all of these inspirational snippets reside. Here’s how to make a screen capture on your Macintosh computer or Apple device:

On the computer: If you have a Mac, simply press these three keys at the same time: Command/Shift/4. This brings up a little crop icon, which you can then drag to highlight whatever it is on your computer screen that you want to capture. When you let go, you will hear a “click” that sounds like a camera shutter. A screen capture in the form of a JPEG will appear on your desktop. You can then name the screen capture and add it to a folder stored on your computer.

On your iPhone or iPad: Simply press your Home Key and the Power Button (on the top right corner of your iPhone/iPad) at the same time. This takes a photo of whatever is on your screen at the time and saves it to your camera roll. From there, you can either create an album to store these screen captures on your device, or email them to yourself or access them via the Cloud on your computer and store them there.

So the next time I find myself “stuck” and looking for a little inspiration, I’ll just open my digital journal. I hope this inspires you to do the same!’

A professional photographer for the past decade, Cindy turned to her iPhone as a creative tool in 2010 and began creating the distinctive style of art she is known for today. Since then, she has exhibited her work at galleries and museums in four countries and across the United States. She has garnered numerous awards, most recently in the Mobile Photography division of the 2013 American Aperture Awards (Ax3) where she won in the conceptual/experimental category. Her work has been published both online and in print, including Architectural Digest (November 2012 Spanish print edition). Cindy has contributed to two books on iPhoneography, including The Art of iPhone Photography – Creating Great Photos and Art on Your iPhone by Bob Weil and Nicki Fitz-Gerald (Rocky Nook) and Mobile Digital Art: Using the iPod and iPhone as Creative Tools by David Scott Leibowiz (Focal Press.) Her work is also featured in "Mobile Masters - Crossing the Threshold" by Dan Marcolina, an interactive iPad book available in iTunes. In 2013, Cindy was a presenter at the annual MacWorld/iWorld Conference in San Francisco as part of the "Mobile Masters Sessions," the largest assemblage of iPhoneography talent and inspiration to date, celebrating a new chapter in photography's history. Her talk was entitled, "The Fine Art of iPhoneography." In addition to photographing weddings and portraits, Cindy is an iPad Instructor at Cooper University's Cancer Institute as part of their Complementary Medicine Program. She is available for talks and workshops worldwide. Website: Email: Flickr: Instagram: @cpatrickphoto Twitter: @cpatrickphoto Facebook:


  • Stef LP

    Without doubt we are inspired by others. And as long as its Not a replica of anothers vision but made into ones own…it does indeed become instructive.
    Like copying the masters to learn how to paint -see.

    On the flipside…
    Sometimes I wonder why one will have so many followers on their stream ..but so little interchange.
    I have often thought it to be for inspiration for oneself as opposed to a genuine appreciation for the others work.
    For a person who is not very assertive in self promotion…it can feel somewhat disheartening when another gets inspired by their vision – and gets recognition and applause — while one who served as the muse for their new direction remains incognito.
    I think if we are spurred in a particular direction by another…giving due credit when merited would be honorable .
    Perhaps I do say this because – I do get the impression there exist a set group of mobile artist who are considered and given due praise — while I have not -as of yet- recall any sites that are focused on discovering new and under appreciated mobile artist.
    True… numbers mean nothing when it comes to the mandatory likes of ones work– especially when one has indeed worked hard on developing their craft.

    But going back to the begin…I can’t help but wonder – how many folks with instaFame follow other creatives under the radar to exploit their ideas for self.
    This is just a question I have asked myself over n over again.



  • Tracy Mitchell Griggs

    @Stef LP – people create for different reasons – but it should not necessarily be inspired for the need for recognition. I agree that there are under represented folk that don’t get recognition – it’s easy in a smallish community to regularly promote “the usual suspects” – I no longer contribute to many sites for this reason. Don’t forget that many people in this community who receive recognition and promotion are professional artists who have decades of work experience under their belts, and mobile photography is just the newest tool in their belt. As for those types who follow to exploit for their own gain? I am reminded of Einstein’s quote:
    “The secret to creativity is learning to hide your sources.”

    You say you are not good at self promotion – maybe this is an area you need to work on – most of the folks who participate here and on other photo sites seem willing to share – just ask!

    • Stef LP

      Hi Tracy, thanks for the reply.
      I totally agree we should never be inspired for want of recognition.
      However, wouldn’t you agree that most of us share or expose ourselves for the want of such?
      One thing I am appreciative of within the cyber network of presenting ones work is having an audience. While my friends are supportive and encouraging, at times , when not a shared interest, it can be alittle one sided show and tell.
      Maybe that’s it : we are like children who create or discover something and find ourselves eager to go before the classroom and share it.
      It’s difficult for me to imagine standing before an audience of none.
      Hmmmm….sounds like a neat illustrative project.
      While I would never claim myself as one with decades of experience or a professional using mobile arts as a new tool…it just might be true. Lol
      It’s all relative …isn’t it?
      Which sort of goes with the whole promotion of self… Not wanting to blow a trumpet for the vanity of it all…yet ….
      Too- please note- these thoughts expressed haven’t any real time weight attached to them.
      They are fleeting . Taking their place along with the more important things in life.
      I am often amused at human nature as well as that which reflects back at me.
      Do you share your vision anywhere?

      Not sure if I totally understand the quote.
      Does it mean creativity is emulating what one sees and doing so so well no connection to the source is perceived?