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Mobile Photography Interview – A Day in the Life of Gerry Coe – An Award Winning Highly Accomplished Photographer

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 121st  instalment of the series. If you have missed our previous interviews, please go here.

Today we are featuring Gerry Coe, an Internationally acclaimed Fine Art Photographer, working in Northern Ireland known for both his Award winning iPhone Art Images and his Fine Art Portraiture.

Coe has been awarded a Fellowship of each of the four main photographic organisations The British Institue of Professional Photographers (BIPP), Master Photographers Association, Royal Photographic Society and the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers and he has just recently received his Second Fellowship from the BIPP for his much acclaimed iPhone Photography images. This is the first time anyone, anywhere has achieved a Fellowship in iPhone or Mobile Photography. He is the first Double Fellow of the BIPP in Ireland and one of a very small group of double Fellows worldwide.

Coe has also been awarded by the BIPP “The Peter Grugeon Award” for best fellowship Panel of the year 2012, for his panel of iPhone images. This is actually the second time Gerry has received  “The Peter Grugeon Award” for best Fellowship Panel of the year, and it is the first time anyone has been awarded it twice.

We could not wait to find out more about Gerry Coe, we are sure you will love this interview, at the end of this article you will find links to the various apps used to create each image that we have included below.

Gerry Coe

Image ©Gerry Coe

To view Coe’s Portrait Images imagesgo here. Gerry now does his Portraits at clients own homes or on location.

To see his Wall Canvas Art Imagesgo here

To view his Mobile Art Images, go here

Eiffel Tower’ – ©Gerry Coe Apps used – Slow shutter and then Waterlogue with a light colour overlay

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

As I am now officially retired I no longer need to get up very early to join the rush hour traffic from Bangor to Belfast. Normally I am awake by about 7.30am. I switch on the computer and check messages on my phone. I get a new image of my grandson Henry every morning from my daughter Emma by WhatsApp. I will check out my FB and Twitter feeds and then breakfast.

‘Shop Mannequin’ – ©Gerry Coe – Oggl, Tintp 1884 and D Type Plate again with similar painted wall texture as before but with a sheet of music I believe by Chopin photographed in Majorca. Blended in Superimpose

Do you like to head out and take photographs early on?

I really don’t have any set time for taking photographs, I live by the sea 100 Yards away and there are always pictures to be got at any time of the day. A half hours walk will bring me to local woods and a short drive will have me in the beautiful Crawfordsburn Wood. There are pictures to be taken no matter what time of the day it is.

‘Tree lined Avenue, Spain’ –  ©Gerry Coe – Standard camera then colours enhanced with Snapseed, then used Repix, merged with a line drawing of the image, iColorama, and finally merged with the original Snapseed image using Superimpose 

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

I have been a professional photographer since I left school and I have also been a member of various amateur camera clubs, I am now President of my local club Bangor & North Down CC. The transition from traditional to Digital to Mobile has been quite a journey. I have always printed all my own pictures so I had my own darkroom where I produced my “Pencil Portraits” these were very light High Key portrait images. I am still reminded by my friends that I said “ The darkroom will see me out, can’t see this digital stuff being good enough to do my portraits” Well obviously I changed my mind, I bought a Nikon D70 and starting experimenting, still using my Hasselblad camera and B&W film for the main images and then taking some on the Nikon. Eventually I felt that the quality of my Nikon portrait pictures was pretty a close match to my film images and so I started the transition to digital. Nowadays there is no way I wish to go back into the darkroom. But what got me in Mobile photography? Well when I was due to change my phone I was persuaded by a good friend, an Apple “Fanboy” to go for an iPhone, which I did. Now as any self respecting photographer knows you are not going to get the quality of a Hasselblad or a Nikon/Canon out of a wee crappy iPhone camera, so I did nothing for a while. Then I started to see work by my good friend Dan Burkholder and the images where really great. I had invited Dan over a few years previously to Northern Ireland to give a talk about Platinum/Palladium printing so I had great respect for his judgement. I emailed Dan and asked him what he was doing with all these wonderful images, his reply was very simple…3 words…”Selling them Gerry” that got me thinking and so my experiments began.

‘Girl’ ©Gerry Coe  B&W Hipstamatic image altered in Snapseed then used iColorama and merged with an image produced in RollWorld

Do you like to download new mobile photography and/or art apps regularly?

I do like to check out new apps but I have already got so many on my iPhone that will cover just about every possibility that it has to be very special for me to want to download it. I keep a wide range of apps on my phone because when I am giving talks or lectures I like to show people the various apps that they can use.

‘Street art of a face and a Tree’ ©Gerry Coe – Oggl Hipstamatic Tinto 1884 and D Type Plate, merged with another bit of wall paint

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

I have a 27inch iMac and the iPhone 5s also iPad 3. Not rushing into the iPhone 6 upgrade yet.

‘Wig Mannequins in a shop widow’ ©Gerry Coe – Oggl Hipstamatic Tinto 1884 lens & D Type plate, merged with an image of paint splatters on a wall  and a wall texture done in Superimpose

Would you consider changing platforms and why?

No, I am happy with what I have and do not wish to complicate life even more by changing systems. Of course if things go wrong with Apple then that might change my ideas.

‘B17’ ©Gerry Coe – Taken on Hipstamatic , Tinto 1884 lens and BlacKeys B&W Film, Then toned lightly

How often do you update your existing apps?

More or less as the new updates come out

‘Oil Rig Repair’ – ©Gerry Coe – Default camera, Snapseed and a texture from Photo Copier

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

I don’t do video at all. Favourite Apps, well I use a lot of different ones but like a lot of people my go to app is Snapseed, I use that to enhance or clean up an image before going on to other apps. Depending on what I am planning for an image I will use any of the following.

For taking I love Oggl and Hipstamatic along with 645PRO, SlowShutter and the built in camera.

I take mostly square images, a legacy from my Hasselblad days.

I like to experiment a lot and use combinations of apps, I find that some apps are great but by just using one app it will start to look like a lot of other peoples pictures using the same app and this is where apps like Superimpose and Image Blender are invaluable.

So my list of apps: Big Lens, Impression, Retouch, Autostitch for Panoramas, ScratchCam, DistressedFX, PhotoCopier, iColorama, Dynamic Light, Dramatic, Glaze, Repix, Waterlogue, Brushstroke, I have others I use as well but that is enough for now. To transfer images to iPad or computer or vice versa I use PhotoSync or Transfer. I know images will now sync and are uploaded to the NEW camera roll.

‘Red Umbrella’ – ©Gerry Coe – Snapseed and BlurFX

Where’s your favourite place in the world for a shoot and why?

I consider anywhere I go to be a favourite place, I look for the opportunities everywhere, I don’t consider myself to have one style of picture therefore I am open to all possibilities. I have travelled a lot in Spain and love Italy, Rome and Tuscany, also France. But send me anywhere I will be happy. In March 2015 I am off with some photo friends to Tarifa in southern Spain for four days including a trip over to Morocco for 36 hours. I am also one of the guest lecturers at Photo Training Overseas (PTO) which is being held in Teneriffe in the Canary Islands. So I will have some opportunities for a few wee snaps when over there.

‘Ship and Fisherman’ – Lanzarote –©Gerry Coe -Oggl, John S lens and Blackeys B&W film, Snapseed, Big Lens, Distressed FX for texture and birds.

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

I use Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.

‘The Figure 16’ ©Gerry Coe – Default camera, Snapseed, then used I think PhotoStudio HD for the blur. It is actually a jogger in Paris running away from me.

Do you use your mobile phone everyday to take images?

Normally yes I do, sometimes if I am not going out I may set up a Still Life shot or photograph shadows or textures, or even photograph things on the television.

‘Yellow Crane’ – Harland & Wolff crane – Belfast ©Gerry Coe Default camera, Snapseed and then Waterlogue

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? 

Yes, I have a Joby GorillaPod which is fantastic, I have a rechargeable battery case which I keep on the phone all the time, it makes it a bit heavier but it will double my battery life if outside shooting, I also have a backup battery Power bank, Just in case….Belt and braces….. I have a set of extra lenses on loan at the moment ranging from Fisheye to telephoto. If I am running low on storage space I will transfer images over to my iPad, but I am thinking of getting a new Western Digital Wireless Storage for SD cards and phones.

Image – ©Gerry Coe Default camera image enhanced in Snapseed and I think Waterlogue

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

I edit all my images on either my iPhone or my iPad, I transfer the finished pictures to my computer and there I will sharpen them as I feel I can judge the results better on the large screen. Also I resize my images using OnOne software, the Resize module, I can and have printed my pictures up to 40 inches square (101cm) and done 72 inch Panoramas (180cm). At these sizes I normally print them onto Canvas.

‘Emma’ – ©Gerry Coe – Straight image using Oggl Tinto 1884 lens and C Type Plate, colour enhanced with Snapseed

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

I have had my work exhibited in various exhibitions including the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts Annual Exhibition held in the prestigious Ulster museum in Belfast. I have been part of a number of joint shows and had a one man exhibition just recently of over 40 of my iPhone pictures at my local library The Curve Gallery , currently I am exhibiting my iPhone work at a Gallery in one of our major Outlet Parks alongside my good friend John Miskelly who is showing his Panoramic Landscape images (not done on an iPhone) Where am I headed? I don’t really know but I am keen to explore the physical methods of layering images using a method known as Encaustic, that is the use of hot wax for coating an image then adding more elements and then re-waxing eventually building up the layers.

‘Early Morning Calpe’ – ©Gerry Coe – Default camera, then enhanced slightly in Snapseed and a texture added Distressed FX

Where do you see the future of mobile photography

Mobile photography can only get better, in the right hands it is an amazing artistic tool. You only have to look at a lot of the contributors to TheAppWhisperer. The quality of the cameras in the phones has got better with every new release, fewer and fewer people have a small compact camera anymore as all they need is the phone with a camera. The problem is a lot of people do not print the pictures and all they have are virtual copies in the cloud storage areas, so what happens to these pictures? Priceless family memories can be lost forever, lost or forgotten passwords to retrieve images? A person dies the phone is discarded because no one knows how to get at the images. Unlike past generations where the photo album was an important family heirloom we will not have that and our visual family history will be lost. I would urge people to print their family pictures into small albums, there are always good deals online from some of the big printing houses.

‘Big Cloud, Ballyholme’ – ©Gerry Coe – Default camera, Snapseed and Dramatic B&W

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

Apart from Selfies!!!!! Meaning no offence to people who use their own self as the starter for some amazing works of art. Street photography is always popular and Landscape, Documentary work which can show things normally never seen by most people and press photographers can use mobile to great effect.

‘Rome Street’ – ©Gerry Coe – Oggl, Tinto 1884 lens and C Type plate, red enhanced slightly in Snapseed. Never know where the focus will be when using the Tinto lens, but for me it makes a much more interesting story as it is the man in the doorway that is sharp and not the girl

Do you think it is country Specific, are some nations more clued up?

I really think it is becoming a worldwide thing, obviously the more developed countries lead the pack but generally more people are using mobile photography as a method of artistic expression.

‘Autumn Colours’ –©Gerry Coe – Default camera, Snapseed, then Repix, blended back with a sharp image, and a watercolour version added

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

As a pro photographer I think it would be great to have a zoom lens fitted as standard, not an optical zoom but an actual zoom that could be operated from the phone viewfinder window. Also a fold out hood to protect the screen so that I can see the image in bright daylight.

‘New Titanic Building with old Drawing Office to the fore’ – ©Gerry Coe (where the plans for the Titanic where drawn) Hipstamatic, Snapseed, then blended with PicGrunger

What do you think of Joanne and theappwhisperer.com?

I think there must be three Joanne’s as she manages to combine so many things into the appwhisper and co-ordinate all the various contributors. At any talks and lectures I give I always recommend theappwhisperer along with a few other sites for people looking for great information.

‘Portstewart Strand’ – ©Gerry Coe – Hipstamatic,  Tinto 1884 and Claunch 72 film and Distressed FX

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