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Mobile Photographer Interview – A Day In The Life of Martin Duerr – A Mobile Photographer With A Difference!

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 seventh installment of the series. If you have missed our previous interviews, please go here.

Today we are featuring Martin Duerr, Martin was born in 1959 in Germany and studied Graphic Design at the University of Applied Science in Munich. His father led the camera development team at AGFA in Munich. Martin’s father was also a gifted painter, illustrator and photographer, enabling Martin to be exposed to this medium at an early age. Martin’s images today are either photographs or illustrations and have a graphical shade, like old etchings. He concentrates on shapes and textures rather than a full spectrum of colours. Martin’s images mostly show technical or mechanical equipment, landscapes, architectural objects, plants and some animals – his illustrations are more a mix of fantasy themes, sci-fi as well as surreal and the erotica.

For the past 25 years Martin has been working for companies including Ferrero, Honda, Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Siemens photographing, compositing, 3D modeling, vfx and illustration. From 2008 Martin has run a company – Models from Mars LLC which specialises in visualisation, cgi and photography with Clint Clemens (Canon Explorers of Light) in Newport, Rhodes Island.

We couldn’t wait to find out more about Martin and invited him to take part in this interview. We think you will all enjoy this a lot, it’s full of fabulous images and wonderful words.

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.)

Martin Duerr


Image – ‘Martin Duerr’ – ©Christian Reinartz


‘Wind’ – ©Martin Duerr – Apps used – Slow Shutter, Snapseed

Let’s start at the beginning of the day, how does your day start?

I’m an early bird and I don’t want to lie in bed when the sun is up. Coffee first. One of the huge advantages mobile computing and mobile photography has brought in our lives is the fact that you don’t need to run in your office to see what happen on Facebook, behance or google plus. You can edit photos professionally in the kitchen (not only those taken with the mobile phone). This is definitely something which changed my everyday workflow and those of other artists and photographers.

I’m often tied to the computer to do editing work, but as soon as I have a chance I go outside for shooting.


‘Red’ – ©Martin Duerr – Apps/smartphone used – Nokia 808 transferred to iPad, Snapseed – Frame created in Photoshop

How did the transition from traditional photographer to mobile photographer develop? (Pardon the pun).

Okay this is not answered in one sentence as my working portfolio has some loop ways in it. My father led the camera development at AGFA in Munich when I was a child. So there have always been cameras around me. I studied Graphic-Design and came to VFX and 3D accidentally. Then a few years ago a good friend of mine who is a Canon Explorers of Light, saw my iPhone images and said to me that I should reactivate my photography profession. So in other words the iPhone brought me back to professional photography (in terms of shooting with DSLRs)!!! So my transition has been: Analogue photography > iPhone > DSLR.

Today the mobile photography and the studio photography are equal for me. Especially sculptures I shoot with the mobile devices.


‘UP!’ – ©Martin Duerr – Nokia 1020 – transferred to iPad – Snapseed

Do you like to download new mobile photography apps regularly?

Yes, when they offer me a benefit others that I already own won’t have. But at the moment I think the apps are really good, the phones need to catch up in kind of things like aperture control, iso settings etc.


‘MIRA” – ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, Snapseed, Lo-Mob

What is your preferred platform, Apple iOS, Android, Windows?

I’m working with an iPhone, a Nokia 808 and a Nokia 1020, but the easiest way to edit images is with iOS. The Nokias are just for taking images.


‘Crane’ – ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, Snapseed, MPro, Lo-Mob

Would you consider changing platforms and why?

No, as the iOS offers the widest range of professional photography apps. I’m sure Android will put more into that area, let’s see how this proceeds. At the moment my iPad is the editing station where I do most of my enhancements. But there are always situations, especially when preparing for an exhibition, when I use the PC for final tuning.


‘Winding Staircase’ – ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, MPro, Snapseed

How often do you update your existing apps?

As soon as there are updates I will download them.


‘The Jewish Cemetary, Frankfurt’ ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, Snapseed, Camera+

What are your favourite photography apps and why, what features do you look for in a new photo app?

VSCOcam, MPro, Hueless, OGGL are the most used apps for taking images. It depends on how I want to take the images: in color or directly B&W. For HDR images I use the built in camera app from Apple. The app range for editing is much bigger: Snapseed, Camera+, Lo-Mob, Picfx, Perfectly Clear, Afterlight, Photocopier, Orasis, Retouch, PhotoForge2, DistressedFX, Mextures, Koloid, MonoVu to name a few. It strongly depends on how I want to see the final image look like.


‘Frankfurt’ ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, MPro, Perspective, Camera+

Where’s your favourite place to shoot and why?

Anywhere! I think one of the biggest advantages of mobile photography is that it is so unobtrusive. And even mirror-less cameras won’t fit into your pocket. An iPhone or a Nokia will do. The only drawback I see is that you use the Stinky-Baby-Diapper-Hold position to shoot. This often creates too much attraction. So I shoot while on a walk, in the city, supermarkets, exhibitions … but my favourite places in general are museums. Basically I have to different ways to shoot.

I go out and let me inspire what I will see and try to react to the given situations, or I have a fixed target where I want to shoot. Mostly airplane or technical museums, sculpture collections.


”My Zeil’ – ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, Lumiere

What are your favorite photographic subjects and why?

Architecture, architectural details, sculptures, plants, landscape. I would like to do more street and portrait photography, something I want to put more time into it in 2014.

I like to shoot structured objects with clean lines, like architecture, and curved lines, like sculptures. The iPhone is a super easy to use “tool” to shape out shaded areas on an object.

As plants often deliver the basic plans for architects it is more then obvious that I also like to shape out their structures.


‘Curves’ – ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, MPro, Camera+, frame added in PS

Where do you like to upload your photographs to – Flickr, Instagram etc?

I upload my images mostly on Facebook, my own blog (http://mechagozillasblog.blogspot.de/) and on my behance account (http://martinduerr.prosite.com/) .

I’m a member of the German photo community PhotoPortale (www.photoportale.de) where I frequently upload mobile series. I use instagram solely for my illustrations.

I should update my own website more often, but like more to work with my blog entries.


‘Berlin Wall’ – ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, MPro, Camera+, Snapseed

Do you use your mobile phone everyday to take images?

YES! Are there other options available?


‘Bot Garden’ – ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, Camera+, Superslides- text made on PC and transferred to iPad, overlay with PhotoForge 2

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.

Yes I do. I use a Manfrotto COMPACT MKC3-H01 tripod. It’s light-weight and has a pistol grip plus a quick release plate. One of the release plates is connected to a Nokia clip. This also takes the iPhone. It’s easy to carry, easy to setup, no hassle. For the iPhone I use a Memory2Move external hard drive when I’m on a trip where I have no chance to carry a laptop with me to save images. A EasyAcc® Super 12000mAh is always with me when I’m out for shooting with no chance to load the iPhone/Nokias traditionally.

I have an Olloclip, I like it, but use it less a I would like to. For some shots I have been using the Manfrotto LED lights in combination with the Manfrotto iPhone case.


‘Replicas’ – ©Martin Duerr – Nokia 808 transferred to iPad, Snapseed

Do you edit images on your mobile devices or do you prefer to use a desktop or laptop computer?

I’ve been waiting for that question … Okay, where to start…? I’m no friend of strict rules and paradigms, the iPhone itself teaches us that there are no borders. I know that a lot of mobile phone competitions only allow the use of the iPhone, iPad or a tablet device. I accept that for a competition, but normally I edit on the iPhone/iPad and on the PC. I can say that the iPhone images will be edited more often directly on the device itself while I use the PC (Photoshop, NIK Software, TOPAZ etc.) for my Nokia images.


‘Reproduction and Diversity’ – ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, iPad, MPro, Snapseed, Wordfoto, PS Express

Where do you envisage your mobile photography passion will take you? Have you been involved with exhibitions etc? Please elaborate if you can.

It will take me where I want to be. I know this sounds silly, but you can do things with a mobile device camera (and the apps), you can’t do with any traditional camera. This opens new areas where I didn’t saw my photography before. To be honest, the iPhone is more in use for artistic imagery, while the Nokias often are used for more “serious” photography. But this could be pinned to the fact that they have a much higher resolution and deliver excellent image quality. I’m a member of a regional art society and jury accepted me as a “photographer”. The most interesting thing is that with the latest exhibitions the jury selected, without exception, iPhone images that have been printed on Alu-Dibond or brushed aluminum. That makes me feel that iPhone imagery is “art” in the broadest sense. There was one exhibition last year where I first showed an iPhone image printed in A2. You can read what happened here:


Here is the text:

A journalist/photographer who was making an article about the exhibition, came to me and asked me about the image:

He: What does the picture show. Is this a roller coaster?
Me: No, it’s a lighthouse. I took the image directly from below.
He: Okay I see. What kind of film did you use for that. 800 or 1600 ASA?
Me: None. It’s digital
He: Pause, after a while: Aha. The grain looks gorgeous. Thought it is analogue.
Me: No. It’s digital. It’s from an iPhone.
He: Long pause. It’s looking gorgeous.

So I’m not fishing for compliments, but wanted to show you that especially in artistic photography the border between digital and analogue images become blurred more and more. If the look of an image corresponds to the content, you will have problems to verify how the images has been made or edited. Even if you claim to be a professional. Enjoy.


‘No’ ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, Camera+, Snapseed

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?

Sorry, no video shooter. There are really fantastic videos around, but I will concentrate on still images.


‘Ray’ – ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, Snapseed

Where do you see the future of mobile photography?

Mobile photography will accelerate in the next few years and will displace P&S cameras first (they are doing it right now, but the process has not been finished). Maybe next will be a merge between phone and APS-C mirrorless cameras, where I still see an advantage for the phones, because they are much smaller. Maybe lens and capture technology will push the mobile phones much fast then we can expect right now. In the end only high-end Pro DSLRs and mobile phones will survive (my opinion).


‘The Holocaust Memorial’ – ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, Snapseed, Camera+

What do you think is the most popular area of mobile photography?

Uh … I don’t know, but I guess it’s street and landscape photography. I don’t think we can include Selfies and food photography to that. 😉


‘Alone at Home’ – ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, Snapseed, Camera+, Mextures

Do you think it’s country specific, are some nations more clued up?

Maybe at the very beginning of mobile photography our American friends have been faster in accepting the technology for other purposes than simple telephone calls, but today the combination of a mobile device and photography blurs the border between nations and cultures. Everyone takes images and wants to share them. Maybe the content differs a little bit from nation to nation, but the enthusiasm is “global”.


‘Frankfurt II’ – ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, MPro, Camera+

If you could select a specification for a mobile smartphone, what features would you select, photographically speaking?

Even with a fixed lens parameter it would be nice if companies (Apple, Nokia, Samsung, LG) would incorporate different aperture modes for the camera inside the mobile device. This is, is my opinion, what serious photography is all about: taking care of background and foreground. There are some first small indications that this will come to the mobile devices (the Lumia 1020 is able to do a little bit of that and you can manually adjust it). I’m not speaking about the software application that will do it after the image has been taken. I want to do it as I adjust the shot. If mobile photography wants to get serious at all, resolution will always be a factor. Some images need to be printed “big”. The Nokia way is very good, but I’m sure this is not the end of the line, technically spoken.


‘Cooling’ – ©Martin Duerr – iPhone, MPro, Snapseed, Camera+

What do you think of Joanne and theappwhisperer.com?

Mandatory to all serious mobile photographers! Point! Don’t know any other pages that informs you in the way Joanne and her team does. Always up-to-date, a lot of neutral information and not to forget so many inspiring links, interviews etc. Use it like you would use a newspaper. Look often! Or better connect via Facebook.

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: joanne@theappwhisperer.com