"Real life has surface noise".
I'm an iPhoneographer / Photographer and Digital Artist utilising Mobile Technologies. I just happen to be visually impaired.
I initially set up a website as a promotional space for my exhibition ‘Seeing The Unseen’ and surrounding activities back in 2014 and as is sometimes the way with such things it took a back seat to the act of creating new work.
However, as I continue to be involved in this ever growing community, contributing to discussions, forums and groups, posting and commenting to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds, I see a lot of work being created that motivates and inspires me on many levels and I'd like to share that excitement. As such I have reshaped ‘Seeing The Unseen’ into a place for me to profile my work together with posts and writing about the people, the groups, the works being created and the technology enabling it in this new era of Photography.
In such a short space of time the iPhone and iPad have rapidly evolved into an essential and legitimate set of tools for artistic expression, giving us a means to interpret, embellish and create something entirely new. For me, content and emotional impact are the most important elements, giving the ability to present a unique perspective and story on a moment, object, person or place. All it really takes is to slow down, look and see the possibilities in what is in front of you and capture them. It's looking at things for what they are and what they could be. This new movement/era in photography is giving us new ways of presenting the work and indeed new ways of seeing the (unseen) world.
There are many great sites out there already doing an excellent job of this I know, but I hope that I can put my own take on this as a visually impaired artist trying to forge my own creative path in what is after all a very visual world.
Prior to pursuing photography I was involved in the independent music industry for a good many years running the Pleasantly Surprised cassette audiozine and Cathexis Recordings record label. I released material from, amongst others: Cocteau Twins, Bauhaus, Birthday Party, Primal Scream, Eric Random, Ludus, Billy MacKenzie, Virginia Astley, Modern English, Sonic Youth, Mark Stewart, Coil, Current 93, Dif Juz, Fini Tribe.... There were also forays into performance promotion, Internet Radio Streaming and Sound Art Festivals. Maybe one day I'll actually get around to putting together my archive, what's left of it...
For over twenty years I was also a freelance Graphic Designer. For sixteen of those I worked for a photography gallery (Street Level Photoworks) in Glasgow and worked with a large number of photographers and artists in prepping their work for exhibition, retouching prints and negatives, and formatting for print. Many people left a lasting impression and some were inspirational.
I attempted to teach myself how to use a camera but being blind in one eye and having Aphakia and Mydriasis (no lens, damaged retina and a permanently dilated pupil/iris) in the other, this proved to be cumbersome and very problematic, especially so in that I was pursuing an interest in street photography...
In 2012 my wife gave me an iPhone 4S for a significant birthday and everything changed. I captured a few images and was hooked. The design for other people started to take a back seat and personal photography projects started to take shape and take over. It was time to think of a new strategy in my photography. I downloaded a few Apps, bought some excellent books on iPhoneography and lost myself in dedicated websites and blogs.
It all started to fall into place. Due to my restricted sight and sensitivity to light, I decided to side-step the inherent difficulties of using orthodox methods of image making and bypass the constraints of traditional photography that seeks out technical perfection, both with the equipment being used and in the end result, and instead pursue a visual aesthetic for it's own sake.
Using an iPhone as capture device and an iPad as a mobile 'darkroom', editing suite and social media hub, I started to document and capture images of everyday moments from the world around, details and places that are in plain sight, but often overlooked and unnoticed as people go about their day. These discovered moments are edited, post processed, transformed, saved and shared.
I find that imperfections and flaws are an important part of my process. I incorporate texture and character during the composition and post processing stages which quite often results in something that looks far more intriguing than what was initially captured.
In late 2012, not long after receiving my iPhone, I submitted two images to an OPEN art show and had them both accepted, selling one within the first 15 minutes of the opening reception. I continued to create and submit images for exhibition in 2013/14, having it accepted and managing to sell work.
In 2014 I was approached by the Arts and Heritage team of West Dunbartonshire Council here in Scotland with a view to mounting a solo exhibition. This was a very bold move on their part as not only was this a show by an emerging photographer but also the first show of it's kind in Scotland to consist entirely of worked create on mobile devices. Prior to the exhibition I was invited to be one of 5 artists presenting work at a one day open air 'Art On The Railings' event in one of the biggest public parks in the area. Seeing The Unseen as a large solo exhibition was very well received and an edited version of the show toured to Melt Gallery in Pitlochry, Scotland to be part of their inaugural exhibition running from late 2014 into early 2015.
In spring of 2015 I devised and led a series of Flower Photography Workshops, using mobile devices, as part of the TATE Artist Rooms: Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition which took place at Clydebank Art Gallery and Museum. Interest for those was high and further sessions were added to accommodate the demand. I had more work accepted for the Clydeside 2015 OPEN Art show and was shortlisted for the Lord Provost Award for Outstanding Artwork. Ending up in the final 3 out of 76 artists and over 120 artworks.
Further workshops took place in Winter 2015 as Goldenhll Primary School in West Dunbartonshire started to run Masterclasses for children aged 7-12 in various subjects. I devised and led a 7 week Photography Masterclass which taught Creative Portraiture and Storytelling using the iPhone and iPad. The outcome of this was an exhibition of the work done in collaboration with the children and being asked to come back and lead more classes.
July 2016, I devised and led a 'Location Photography Photo Walk' at the request of West Dunbartonshire Cultural Services. This was followed by a ‘Creative Post Processing’ workshop, again for West Dunbartonshire Council.
Further ongoingworkshops utilising iPhones and iPads are taking place at Carleith Primary School in West Dunbartonshire.
New workshops are currently being researched and developed at present for new audiences.