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‘Brought to Light’ – Mobile Photography / Art Interview with Sean Hayes

Sean Hayes is something of a cultural artist crossing geographic boundaries, one who transforms cultural landscapes. His art is an experience, his portraiture and street work allows for a direct and intimate interaction with the viewer. The meticulous staging of light within his images fills the air with an awareness of living. Hayes’ landscape photography owes its eloquence to its matter-of-fact nature. Everything is observed, Hayes’ images carry the romantic undertow of both myth and mystery. Hayes achieves an engaging style with his art, he not only manages to cross physical borders between countries but I feel, he has a sense of the emotional boundaries between people, his portraiture demonstrates a level of empathy with the subject that brings us into another’s world, another’s pain, another’s joy.

This is our new interview section for mobile photographers and mobile artists and we hope to be filling it very soon with vast explosions of thought and imagery. These questions are designed to explore the artist behind the work, to get to know them a little more intimately.

We recently published our first ‘Brought to Light’ Interview with Andrea Bigiarini, Founder of the New Era Museum and FIPA Florence International Photography Awards as well as writer, author, Imagineer and digital artist, if you missed that, please go here. We then went on to publish an instinctively gifted artist, Ile Mont, if you missed that please go here. Further we published our interview with Roger Guetta, please see here, Rad Drew, please go here to read that and most recently Gianluca Ricoveri (please go here to read that one).


Sean Hayes

Describe a moment that changed your life.

Settling into my seat for an Aer Lingus flight to Paris from Dublin. It was a moment that changed the direction of my life completely. I was 23 years of age. Like countless Irish people before and after me, I was emigrating. Emigration is often portrayed as a moment of sadness and loss. I couldn’t have been happier or more excited. Adventure awaited me at Charles De Gaulle airport.  33 years later  the adventure continues.

‘Doppelgänger’ – ©Sean Hayes

Describe a childhood photographic/art memory.

My Uncle was a fine artist who painted abstracts in his London-based studio. A brilliant draughtsman, but like many fine artists in the last half of the 20th century, he devoted his life to painting surreal and expressionistic canvases. As an 8 year old boy, all I knew was that he was an ‘Artist’, and he was coming to Dublin for a visit. Having recently developed an interest in art myself, I was keen to show him my fledgling attempts at drawing and colouring. When he arrived, I handed him my colouring book: the type of book containing line art where colour is added using crayons, coloured pencils etc. To my utter astonishment, then disappointment, he proceeded to make large sweeping movements of kaleidoscope colours across the page without respecting the black outlines of the drawings. I was crestfallen. What kind of artist was this guy?  He didn’t even respect the ‘rules’ of art!  I had a lot to learn.  

‘Angel Wings’ – ©Sean Hayes

Describe your mobile studio.

Two phones: iOS iPhone6 and Android LGG4.  Countless photo apps. Shoulderpod  smartphone grip.

‘Waterloo 3’ – ©Sean Hayes

What do you like to think about whilst creating images?

I try not to. I read somewhere recently that the most challenging journey in life is the journey from your head to your heart. We all live in our heads too much. The best art comes from the heart.

‘Tuareg’ – ©Sean Hayes

Share one mobile photography/art tip.

Create art that surprises you. If you can’t surprise yourself, it’s highly unlikely you will surprise anybody else. And if you are not surprising anybody with your art, then frankly, what’s the point?

‘The Joker’ – ©Sean Hayes

What or who ignited your passion for mobile photography/art?

Two people.  Knox Bronson – creator and curator of P1xels – for being the first to publish one of my iPhone photos online. Nathaniel ”Nacho” Cordova, a talented contributor of mobile images to Nacho was the first to compliment me on my work and encourage me to continue making mobile images.

‘Ireland 1’ – ©Sean Hayes

What is the most unusual subject you have photographed/painted?

A montage image of British artist Damien Hirst’s Diamond Skull sculpture superimposed on to the face of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett.  I used an early version of the photo app Image Blender. The resultant image even scared me.

‘Ireland 2’ – ©Sean Hayes

What are your favourite mobile photography accessories?

The Shoulderpod smartphone grip.

‘Ireland 3’- ©Sean Hayes

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Beaker  of Muppet Show fame.

‘Ireland 4’ – ©Sean Hayes

Do you have a favourite app?

I keep coming back to the Picfx photo app. It allows for quick and easy experimentation with an interesting array of coloured and creative filters.

‘Ireland’- ©Sean Hayes

Describe your dream mobile photography/art assignment.

There are about 20+ iPhoneographers around the world that have been part of the mobile artists community since the early days. People I have never meet but admire immensely. I would love to be able to visit them individually and shoot a series of portraits, or possibly, a photo essay of their lives and loves.

‘Ireland 5’ – ©Sean Hayes

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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: [email protected]