Welcome to our very exciting interview column on theappwhisperer.com. This section entitled “A Day in the Life of…” is where we take a look at some hugely influential, interesting and accomplished individuals in the mobile photography and art world… people that we think you will love to learn more about. This is our ninety ninth installment of the series. If you have missed our previous interviews, please go here.
Today we are featuring Lars Rehm; Lars has an academic background in Supply Chain and Logistics but in 2007 decided that optimizing the European Logistics Industry was a futile task and joined the editorial team at dpreview.com as a camera reviewer. In almost six years at dpreview he tested and wrote about countless digital cameras, mobile devices and accessories. In 2013 Lars decided to return to his home country Germany and try the life of a freelancer. You can find links to his articles and pictures on www.larsrehm.com and follow him on twitter @larsrehm.
We couldn’t wait to find out more about Lars and invited him to take part in this interview. We think you will all enjoy this a lot, it’s full of fabulous insight, images and words.
Under each image you will find the title, device used (Lars has used a great assortment of mobile devices) and apps used.
You can find all the links to the apps used or mentioned at the end of this article. (If you would like to be interviewed for our new ‘A Day in the Life of…’ section, send an email to Joanne@theappwhisperer.com, and we’ll get back to you.)
‘Chicago Skyline’ ©Lars Rehm – Samsung Galaxy Camera – nofilter
Let’s start at the beginning of the day, how does your day start?
Since summer of 2013 I’ve been living in Berlin, Germany which means a lot of things in the tech world are happening in other time zones while I am fast asleep in bed. So, on a normal day when I get up I have some fruit and a green tea for breakfast while I am screening twitter and my favorite tech sites to find out what new cameras, devices and apps have been announced during the night and what else has been going on in the world of technology.
‘McCarran Airport’ ©Lars Rehm – Samsung Galaxy Camera, Photoshop
How did the transition from traditional photographer to mobile photographer develop? (Pardon the pun).
In my case this transition can be very much linked to the significant improvements in the image quality of mobile devices that have been made the last couple of years or so. For more than 10 years I’ve been mainly shooting with digital SLRs and been used to the (mostly) great image quality of the cameras I’ve been reviewing at dpreview. For a long time I would not consider taking a picture with a smartphone, even when my smartphone was the only camera I had with me. I’d rather have no image at all than one with terrible image quality. This has definitely changed. Smartphones still can’t rival digital SLRs but the latest generation is certainly good enough for taking pictures in most light conditions and capturing smaller image formats used for social sharing. Today, I take many more pictures on mobile devices than “normal” cameras.
‘Space Needle and Olympic Mountains’ ©Lars Rehm – Samsung Galaxy Camera – Snapseed, Instagram
Do you like to download new mobile photography apps regularly?
I like to test new apps and therefore download and install a lot of them all the time and on all platforms. I tend to go back to my trusted favorites sooner or later but occasionally one of the newbies sticks and gets regular use on one or more of my devices.
‘The GOAT’ ©Lars Rehm – Samsung Galaxy Camera – Snapseed, Instagram
What is your preferred platform, Apple iOS, Android, Windows?
I am using all those platforms on a regular basis in my job and they all have their pros and cons. I’ve been using Android smartphones as my personal devices for a while now because I think Android offers the best balance between availability of apps and choice of hardware. I also like the flexibility and customizability of the UI and the seamless integration with all the Google services that I use a lot on all of my devices.
‘Chicago’ ©Lars Rehm – Samsung Galaxy Nexus – Instagram
Would you consider changing platforms and why?
With cameras and mobile devices alike, it can be hard to change platforms once you are invested in an eco-system. However, I like to use what’s best for my specific purposes and would not hesitate to switch if another system can serve me better. I would consider any new system that offers cameras with great image quality and a good choice of high-quality apps.
‘Market Day’ ©Lars Rehm – Samsung Galaxy Nexus – EyeEm
How often do you update your existing apps?
Pretty much constantly. I like all my devices and software to be up to date, so I usually install all updates as soon as they become available. It’s always fun to check out the new features (or find out which bugs have been overlooked in the QA process).
‘Point Defiance’ ©Lars Rehm – Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4 – EyeEm
What are your favourite photography apps and why, what features do you look for in a new photo app?
I like checking out new apps but my goto editing apps on my Android phone are Pixlr Express and Snapseed. I am mostly looking for ease of use and an intuitive UI. For complex post-processing I still use Photoshop but when taking pictures on the go I want to be able to edit and post them as quickly as possible. I post most of my mobile images on EyeEm, so I use some of their filters and frames, too. I really like the app’s user interface and the ability to find other users’ images in your geographical area.
In terms of capturing apps I mostly stick with the default apps that come pre-installed on my devices. I hardly ever venture away from the Auto mode on my phone cameras and therefore am not too concerned about the UI of my camera app as long as I have easy access to the ISO settings which is pretty much the only shooting parameter I occasionally set manually
‘The Passenger’ ©Lars Rehm – Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4 – EyeEm
Where’s your favourite place to shoot and why?
I really don’t have a favorite place to shoot. I like to explore new places whenever I can and there are photographic opportunities aplenty almost everywhere. I spend most of my time in urban areas and in places like London or Berlin there is a great picture virtually behind every corner, even in the most gritty parts of town (or especially in those parts). At the same time I’ve shot some of my favorite pictures on backpacking trips in the solitude of the Cascade Mountains while living in Seattle, WA.
‘Fira de Barcelona’ ©Lars Rehm – Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4 – nofilter
What are your favorite photographic subjects and why?
I love taking people portraits but, being slightly old-fashioned, I still prefer a DSLR for doing so. Nothing beats a big sensor and the bokeh of a 85mm lens when capturing people. With my smartphone I mainly capture street scenes, cityscapes and abstracts but I have been starting to experiment with “mobile portraits” as well.
‘Otter Falls’ ©Lars Rehm– Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4 – nofilter
Where do you like to upload your photographs to – Flickr, Instagram etc?
I have been a flickr user since 2005 and can easily spend hours randomly browsing through old images and getting lost in memories. As an old time flickrite it’s great to see that yahoo has made huge improvements to the flickr mobile app over the past couple of years or so but most of my mobile images I post straight to EyeEm and make sure they are “copied” to flickr.
‘Autumn in Berlin’ ©Lars Rehm – LG G2 – EyeEm
Do you use your mobile phone everyday to take images?
I use my mobile phone every day for everything. That includes taking images
‘Calatrava’ ©Lars Rehm– LG G2 – EyeEm
Do you like to use external hardware products with your mobile device for image and video capturing, such as lenses, tripods, external storage and battery packs? Please elaborate as much as possible.
To me the main advantage of a smartphone camera is the fact that I can always carry it in my pocket and I don’t want to take that advantage away by carrying lots of accessories with me. That said, I have a Joby GripTight/Microstand mini tripod on my key ring, so it’s always available when needed. When I am traveling I usually also carry a Joby GorillaPod that can be attached to all sorts of poles and objects, and an external Samsung battery in my backpack, just in case my phone battery is running low before I get to my destination.
‘West Oval Lake’ ©Lars Rehm – Samsung Galaxy S4 – nofilter
Do you edit images on your mobile devices or do you prefer to use a desktop or laptop computer?
I edit my smartphone pictures almost exclusively on the device they were taken with. Photos that I have taken with a DSLR or my Sony RX100II I edit in Photoshop on my laptop, also because with cameras I usually shoot in Raw format and that is (still) easier to work with on a computer.
‘Minions’ ©Lars Rehm – Sony RX 1002(not mobile) – Pixlr, EyeEm
Where do you envisage your mobile photography passion will take you? Have you been involved with exhibitions etc? Please elaborate if you can.
I am still relatively new to mobile photography. It has come as a “side-product” of my smartphone testing at Dpreview and has been a logical next step after being involved in conventional photography for many years. I am posting some of my images to Instagram and EyeEm and enjoy the feedback and interaction with other mobile photographers on those platforms but at the moment I am still very much experimenting and have no plans for exhibiting my images offline.
‘Walking the Line’ ©Lars Rehm – Sony RX1002 (not mobile)- Pixlr, EyeEm
Do you also enjoy shooting videos with your mobile phone? If so, what do you do with them? Have you considered uploading them to our Mobile Movies Flickr group?
At the moment I pretty much only shoot video for hardware testing purposes but if I ever get the time I would love to shoot and edit a short movie. The video recording capabilities of current smartphones are pretty amazing and it would be a great learning experiment to capture and edit all footage on a mobile device.
‘Colors’ ©Lars Rehm – Sony Xperia Z1 – EyeEm
Where do you see the future of mobile photography?
The boundaries between mobile and conventional photography will, driven by technology, inevitably become very blurry. Smartphones will have better imaging sensors and some type of zoom technology, and traditional cameras will come with more and more advanced connectivity features. Nevertheless, edited and shared images will continue to exist and develop as a sub-form of photography. It will be exciting to observe and participate in those developments over the coming months and years.
‘Crime Scene’ ©Lars Rehm – Sony Xperia Z1 – EyeEm
What do you think is the most popular area of mobile photography?
The immediacy of mobile photography means it’s the ideal tool for documenting social situations, events and other facets of daily life and letting others “take part” in those events from afar via shared images.
‘Humboldthain’ ©Lars Rehm – Sony Xperia Z1 – EyeEm
Do you think it’s country specific, are some nations more clued up?
I have seen amazing mobile photography from all over the planet but it’s obvious that mobile photography is partly driven by technology and therefore more exciting images are coming out of areas with traditionally high rates of technology adoption. The good thing about this is that with technology getting cheaper and more accessible very quickly we will see even more amazing pictures from areas where mobile photography is currently still in its infancy.
‘Terminal 4’ ©Lars Rehm– Sony Xperia Z1 – EyeEm
If you could select a specification for a mobile smartphone, what features would you select, photographically speaking?
Finally a question for the tech reviewer in me! It would be very easy to go over the top here and come up with some fantasy specification, but I’ll try and limit myself to the laws of physics and what’s currently available. I’d love to see the excellent lens/sensor unit of the Nokia Lumia 1020 with its Optical Image Stabilization and innovative zoom system in a device that has the processing power for very quick startup and snappy operation. Put an operating system with a huge choice of imaging apps on top and I would be one happy mobile photographer!
‘Jorge’ ©Lars Rehm – Sony Xperia Z1 – nofilter
What do you think of Joanne and theappwhisperer.com?
With theappwhisperer.com Joanne has created an amazing platform that serves as both a point of encounter for mobile photographers and a tool for the promotion of mobile photography to a broader audience. I am looking forward to following The App Whisperer as mobile photography develops further and discovering more amazing talent on the site.