News,  Spotlight

Mobile Photography – ‘Spotlight’ – New Section – with Susan Rennie – TheAppWhisperer

I am delighted to launch a new section to TheAppWhisperer today, entitled ‘Spotlight’ – I, like many have been inspired by the creative vision of Susan Rennie’s cafe portraiture photographs. Rennie has been building a steady pictorial record of candid images and each time I view one, it stops me and makes me think… I love that! I view a lot of images everyday, it takes a lot to stop me.  In fact, the images that Rennie has captured made me think very deeply one night recently, so much so, that I was inspired to create this new monthly series, Spotlight, where I will feature one mobile photographer or mobile artist and their accompanying work.

In this portrayal series, Rennie’s approach is critical, none of the models are aware that she is taking their photographs, seizing their private moments. She exploits the freedom that the Apple iPhone gives her to capture the dynamic inhabitants of her local coffee shop in California and creates a fascinating visual insight into their lives.

I have asked her for more information, her ‘behind the scenes ethos’ and her bio, so we can all get to learn a little more about her. I have created a video showcase of the cafe portraits for you to enjoy.

Rennie explains thus:  “One of the great challenges of portrait photography is the self-consciousness of the subject, who invariably presents a public persona to the photographer. With some street photography one can grab a fleeting image that momentarily penetrates the outer mask  at least until the person becomes aware of the camera. But how can a photographer make a candid shot, with a different truth, from extended observation?  Sitting in my local Venice cafe I thought how I would like to photograph the expressions, gestures, body language of my various fellow patrons, making a portrait that observed the inner persona  the candid persona that provokes a story for the viewer. The simple answer was that using the iPhone I had in my hand I could become a modern participant-observer. Made possible by the thoroughly modern technology of the iPhone I’ve made my cafe my community/ studio, and the stream of people at the small tables across from me my fellow participants/ sitters. Like the other patrons, I am absorbed in my iPhone: reading news, checking emails, getting the latest on FaceBook  but also taking photographs. As Meri Walker, an inspired mobile photographer, commented about this project: This is an ethnographic portrait of the Abbot’s Habit tribe”.

Rennie’s Bio: “I began taking photographs in the late sixties during my doctoral candidacy at Columbia University. In 1970 my photographs of museum goers were used to illustrate the Museum of Modern Art Annual Report. The next year I studied with Lisette Model, whose street photography had completely seduced me. Photography was much more attractive to me than political philosophy, but life intervened with the advent of the Women’s Movement, taking me in a different direction than art. After a long career as an academic and women’s health activist, I retired and resumed my long dormant true avocation  photography  and launched myself into the digital world. Having lived in Venice, California, since 1976, when I retired three decades later, I decided to take this historic, idiosyncratic, eccentric community as a subject for my photography resulting in three gallery exhibitions focusing on life in Venice. But then, in 2011, my relationship with photography changed radically when I began using my iPhone 4 as a camera. Reading about the Hipstamatic app in the New York Times, I started making photographs that I found much more creatively gratifying.  I was boosted to a second stage of revolution in March 2013 when I discovered photographic social media in Hipstamatic’s Oggl. A year later, in April 2014, I experienced what I see as my great leap forward: the discovery of the App Whisperer, the universe of iPhone apps, and the global community making mobile art  starting my participation in the generation of a new art form”.  


Facebook link

Flickr link

Video Showcase

Joanne Carter, creator of the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website—— 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 - 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:


  • Carolyn Hall Young

    This is an extrordinary series. In it, I immediately sensed the compassion of the photographer, willing to see the beauty in these strangers. The tone of the lighting, of color, of the thoughtful composition, the graphic harmony of this work made me pause, stop, and think. It is the quietness of vision, in this uncommonly reverent view of of the cafe community, that moves me. Susan Rennie’s images remind me again of the power of patience, and a careful eye. They catch my attention, and sooth my hunger for beauty. There is kindness, here.
    Bravo, Susan Rennie! Bravo, Joanne Carter for presenting this work so beautifully. The showcase was a pure pleasure. Thank you!

  • Connie Gardner Rosenthal

    Bravo Joanne and Susan. an informative and interesting piece. I’m thrilled my friend Susan is being featured as the talented and prolifically talented photographer that she is.

  • Diana Jeon

    Very interesting. I really enjoyed reading this, and learning a little more about Susan. Even though we follow each others imagery and interact from time to time on FB, I didn’t really know much about why she makes what she makes. Thanks for sharing.

  • Meri walker

    I’m so delighted to see a big chunk of this work featured here. I believe that Susan is breaking new ground with the series and I really look forward to seeing the rest of it and her thoughts developed in full and shared in the mobile community. I think she has pried up the edge of what we used to call “Street Photography” and found a whole new possibility in artful reporting of the every day experiences that each of us have and are in “expert” on.

  • Alice Wolfson

    It’s so great to see your work. And fabulous to see that you have a second career. I think of you and often still quote you. Can you send me your personal email. Jan, Joanne and I are planning a get together is November in DC. Would love to have you there. Have you had a chance to see She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry?

  • Pat brown

    It’s a challenge to respond appropriately to such amazing and beautiful work. Vision, execution, patience, persistence, consistency, variety, all are adjectives that spring to mind. I love these people and find them compassionately presented through the eye of an extraordinary artist. Thank you, Susan! Thank you, Joanne!