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 111th installment of the series. If you have missed our previous interviews, please go here.
Today we are featuring Jennifer A Thomas originally from Melbourne in Australia. Thomas has a Fine Arts degree with majors in Sculpture and
Printmaking. She has taught Art internationally for the past 12 years and has lived in Tokyo, Brussels and is now based in London. Thomas was one of the featured artists on Dan Marcolina’s iPad eBooks ‘Mobile Masters’ in 2012 and the 2014 update as an Alumnus. She was also part of the Mobile Pixation show and iconic London exhibition in December 2012. Thomas is a core team member of the Click London group
and co-curates for AMPt on Backspaces and is a scout for the IG Artistry team on Instagram.
Thomas describes herself as ‘a bit of a drama queen’ and loves to create a sense of darkness, contrast and dense colour in her
work. As a practicing artist and art teacher she’s interested in the still life genre, architectural details, textures and, an obsession for all things Red. Thomas is inspired by the work of Rothko, Constable, Turner, Rubens, Rembrandt and the Baroque. She takes great delight in the film styles of David Lynch and Peter Greenaway. On reflection, Thomas thinks film and art history inform her photographs a great deal. The historic ‘grime’ of old buildings, streets and subways appeal to her and she tries to capture something of the surface texture and pentimento or traces of previous lives and times. Thomas shoots mostly using Hipstamatic and edits in Snapseed, CameraPlus, Pictureshow and Scratchcam.
We couldn’t wait to find out more about her and view more wonderful images. We are so delighted that she agreed to take part in our interview.
Under each image you will find the title and a list of all the apps used, links to these apps are at the end of the 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.)
‘Golden Hour at the Palm House’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – Apps used – Native iPhone 4S, Snapseed with Retrolux filters and Image Blender
Let’s start at the beginning of the day, how does your day start?
My day starts out early, around 6am with an espresso and 10 minute walk to the tube at London Bridge. I love early mornings in the city, so full of promise for the day ahead. I see boxes of fresh tomatoes outside the bars and restaurants and smell fresh bread from the bakery across the street. As I write I see the buds of trees in the nearby Leather market Gardens bursting with pristine lime growth and I recall my Japanese ikebana teacher waxing lyrical over the “fresh green” foliage of May. To hear birdsong is very special and my senses are alive and sensitized to nature. I think my upbringing in Melbourne, Australia had a big influence in this way, being attuned to nature and aware of the seasonal cycle. I lived in Japan for 6 years from 2002-2008 and this experience teaching ceramics has had a lasting and deep impression on my approach to producing imagery and appreciating nature and the world around me.
‘Le Reve’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – – Apps used – Hipstamatic and Image Blender
Do you like to head out and take photographs early on?
During weekdays it’s hard to shoot in the mornings as I’m rushing to work although I must say when I lived in Belgium between 2008 and 2011, I loved shooting still-life imagery early in the morning by the big French windows. The soft filtered light there was quite extraordinary and I always thought of 17th Century Dutch Genre painters and how they were completely absorbed by the fall of light.
In London I prefer to shoot on the weekends when I have no agenda in mind or when I’m with friends visiting the Kew Gardens, Hampstead Heath or the local Maltby St Market. Central London can be an exhausting and challenging place for a nature lover! Despite this, the area I live in, is full of atmospheric old brick buildings and railway arches. These possess a life of their own that is rich in narrative and history.
I let the city speak to me through its sights, smells and sounds.
‘The Dreamtime’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – – Apps used – Hipstamatic Tinto Pack, native iPhone 4s camera, Image Blender
How did the transition from traditional photographer to mobile photographer develop? (pardon the pun)
My training is in Fine art and in particular Sculpture and Printmaking, so I love surfaces and textures and I think this translates into my photographs. I continue to make art works on paper using mixed media and over the past year have started including elements of my drawings into the mobile photographs using the Image Blender app. My personal favorites certainly contain a dark, layered, painterly feel and I think the genre of “mobile art” photography has allowed me to explore this idea in a fluid manner that was not possible when using traditional painting and drawing materials.
‘The Rotunda’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – – Apps used – Hipstamatic Blackeyes Supergrain and Lucifer lens, Cameraplus
Do you like to download new mobile photography and/or art apps regularly?
I have been shooting with the Hipstamatic app since I started my mobile photography journey and love the saturated films and lens such as John S, Lowy and Lucifer. Combined with films such as Rock, Blanko BL4, Blackeys and DC, I have a super intense palette to work with. My go-to apps are Snapseed, Image Blender, Mextures and DistressedFX. I don’t go too crazy downloading new apps but if one of my London friends suggests something new and extraordinary then I will give anything a try.
‘Valentines Day Bouquet’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – – Apps used – iPhone 4S, Hipstamatic, Snapseed, Mextures, Image Blender
What is your preferred platform, Apple iOS, Android, Windows?
My focus is really with the Apple iOS as for me it all started with the iPhone and then from there to my iPad for editing. I don’t use my laptop for any editing other than to resize files.
‘Bleak Beauty the Lighthouse’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – Apps used – iPhone 4S, Scratchcam, Mextures
Would you consider changing platforms and why?
I don’t have any strong affiliation with Apple but because I have an iPhone and iPad that I am now fluent with, the urge to change platforms is not so strong. Im comfortable where I am.
‘Stilllife’ ©Jennifer A Thomas – – Apps used – Hipstamatic, CameraPlus
How often do you update your existing apps?
It’s a double edged sword with updating apps. I’m just getting used to manipulating my images with the filters and then the app is updated so I have to relearn the process I’ve just become familiar with. Maybe I’m getting old! I love to see the new filters and updates on my favourite apps though and always update when I receive an alert.
‘Under the Blossoms’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – Apps used – iPhone 4S, Snapseed, Retrolux filters, Image Blender
What are your favourite photography apps and why, what features do you look for in a new photo app?
When I started shooting with a mobile camera in 2011 I used Hipstamatic exclusively and edited in Pictureshow using the Studio or Cinema filters. Since then I have tried many other apps, and Snapseed, Cameraplus and Scratchcam all of which I still love using. At present I’m very intrigued by Mextures and DistressedFX which add subtle and beautiful layers and textures to my photographs. They end up with a more artistic painterly feel and this suits me just fine as they emulate my own mixed media drawings on paper. I also love using Slow Shutter which has really improved with its flexibility and interface over the last year. The superb app, Image Blender is used on any of the montages where I’m trying for a layered feel in the final product.
When looking at new apps I like to see controls that let me alter the degree of the various filters, so not everything has to be an eye-popping HDR extravaganza! Subtlety is important. I think this is why Mextures is such a force on the market. It has so many subtle filters and the ability to layer them is really a treat for the art photographer.
‘Monks Robes’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – Apps used – Hipstamatic, iPhone 3
Where’s your favorite place in the world for a shoot and why?
That’s easy! I’m heading off to Vita Sackville West’s garden in Kent this weekend and that is my favourite place to shoot in the UK. Sissinghurst is a National Trust garden that is utterly sublime. There’s symmetry, colour, texture, walled gardens and a tower to keep me occupied and my Gum Plus charger working hard. There’s a group of 3 clipped cypress trees that have an anthropomorphic feel; it’s as if they are the 3 witches from Macbeth watching over the garden. I usually head straight for them!
Venice, Italy comes a close second to Sissinghurst and I often visit in November for the Art or Architecture Biennale when it’s blissfully free of the summer rush of tourists and mysteriously cloaked in deep fog. Some of my favourite photographs have been taken in those blanket mists.
‘Nervous Gestures’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – Apps used – iPhone 3, Hipstamatic, PictureShow
Where do you like to upload your photographs to – Flickr, Instagram etc?
Instagram got me started with mobile photography but I’ve always posted my artworks to Flickr and a personal WordPress website. I used Tadaa and EyeEm when they first came out as well as Backspaces which I thought had great potential as you could tell a story with your images. I posted my “art” photographs on the iPhoneart website but sadly that has now folded so I’m looking about for something with credibility and something where my work will sit happily. Just thinking about the transience of some of the posting platforms raises interesting questions about the endurance of the mobile photography world. I wonder which platforms will outlast the others, only time will tell.
Rubber Glove Love’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – Apps used – iPhone 3, Image Blender, Scratchcam, Snapseed
Do you use your mobile phone everyday to take images?
Yes, I shoot almost every day. If it’s not actually capturing an image, its editing those I’ve taken over the past weekend using the iPad. I had a conversation recently with a dear friend, Dilshad Corleone (@italianbrother) about the power of the moment. I always feel compelled to shoot and post promptly as when the moment has past I feel disconnected from my images and the experience I’ve had from a sensory perspective with them. I’m a compulsive person and I like to try and give my audience a sense of the place I’ve been and the emotional connection I’ve had with that space or the object.
‘Sentinels1’ ©Jennifer A Thomas – Apps used – Watercolor Paint (not an app), Snapseed, Image Blender
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.
I don’t have a very exciting answer for this one as I don’t use anything else to capture the image apart from my iPhone. When the power is low I plug in my Gum Plus Power Pack which is always in my bag and charges the phone incredibly quickly.
‘Still life with Apples’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – Apps used – Hipstamatic, PictureShow
Do you edit images on your mobile devices or do you prefer to use a desktop or laptop computer?
I have quite strong opinions when responding to this question. If the image is captured on a mobile device then it should stay and be manipulated there. I have continued discussions on this point with friends who do all their editing on the laptop. To fully exploit the world of mobile photography, the image created should “live” within that environment. I didn’t print any of my photographs until the Instagramers London show in December 2012. I preferred and still prefer my photographs to stay in the virtual world as that is where they are created. I remember seeing the David Hockney show at the Royal Academy in London in 2013 and was so disappointed to see he’d printed out dozens of his iPad works and framed them on the walls of a large gallery space. They seemed flat and lifeless, removed from their native habitat!
‘Angel’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – – Apps used – iPhone 4s, Hipstamatic tinto pack, Image Blender and Scratchcam
Where do you envisage your mobile photography passion will take you? Have you been involved with exhibitions etc? Please elaborate if you can.
I have been featured on a number of mobile communities including Wearejuxt where I used to write with Anna Cox for the Still Life Lounge which we started a couple of years ago as well as the AMPt Community. I love both these groups and regularly post to their blogs and for challenges. I’ve been featured on Dan Marcolina’s excellent iPad eBooks, Mobile Masters both last year and just recently with the Mobile Masters Proof update for 2014. My work has been exhibited in 2 photography shows, one with the Instagramers London and with the lovely @Akwamarina in a show in London at Gallery 24 in late 2012. I’m currently on the core leadership team for Click London which keeps me very busy. We arrange regular photo walks around London and I’m organizing one of these to Paris on May 17 and 18. I currently curate for IG Artistry on Instagram and love that community. I have also curated for Mobileartistry and The Still Life Lounge on Instagram.
‘Dark Days’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – – Apps used – iPhone 4s, Hipstamatic, Image Blender, Distressed FX, 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?
I haven’t used any video footage as yet, but I have been animating series of my photographs in Flipagram and Gifboom which I really enjoy using.
‘Ephemera’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – – Apps used – iPhone 4s, Cameraplus with Pinhole filter
Where do you see the future of mobile photography?
As a teacher of Art, I see the art created by mobile photography as a real force for the future. It’s accessible, democratizing and has a sense of immediacy inherent in it. I know these qualities have been noted many times before in support of mobile photography but they are such compelling reasons for the rise of a new artistic medium. My school is in the process of purchasing iPads for the art department and I plan to use them with my drawing students to capture and manipulate images from all sources. The phenomenon of mobile photography continues to grow and develop at an incredible rate.
For me one of the most positive forces of mobile photography has been the sense of community both online and in the real world. I have had the pleasure of meeting so many inspiring people through Instagram and through associated web communities like this one. My artistic life has completely been transformed. Meeting so many mobile photographers in person over the past 3 years in London has allowed me to grow as an artist and as a photographer through sharing our apps, photo walking and through critical discussion.
‘Misty Morning At The Arsenale’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – – Apps used – iPhone 4s, Snapseed, vintage filters
What do you think is the most popular area of mobile photography?
From my point of view the most popular area of mobile photography is Street shooting as its incredibly direct and accessible. I’m far too slow to capture people and prefer to focus on inanimate objects or landscapes which dominate my feed across many social media platforms.
‘Shipwrecked’ ©Jennifer A Thomas – Apps used – Hipstamatic, CameraPlus, Distressed FX
Do you think it’s country specific, are some nations more clued up?
I’m an Australian who for the past 12 years, has lived in Japan, Belgium and now the UK. From my experience mobile photography is truly a global passion. I follow people from all over the world but probably the most active community is in the USA where for me there are a lot of art photographers to converse with daily and share our images. I love the work of my Aussie compatriots also, especially Glenda Hubbard (@butterflyblue) and her visions of the far Eastern Coast of Australia and Giula Macaro (@giuliam) and her stark graphic visions of Melbourne.
‘Still life with Tomatoes’ – ©Jennifer A Thomas – – Apps used – iPhone 4s, Mextures, Image Blender
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