Apple has transformed the technological and cultural landscape of our world—-with machines like the Mac, the iPod, the iPad, the iPhone, and services like iTunes and the App Store and now Siri and iCloud–in ways we may not understand for decades to come. There are uncountable “How Apple Has Changed The World” articles to be found online and in print, for the most part revolving around the impact on technology and business.
As curator of the website dedicated to the high end of iPhone art and photography, or iphoneography, I have seen a number of other ways in which the technology has impacted the world in smaller, much more personal, though very important ways. In particular, I have had the privilege to witness first-hand how the iPhone has brought art back to mothers around the world. Or mothers back to their art. Or both. Whichever it is, it is something wonderful and was unforeseen by any of the tech and business pundits of the world, much less discussed.
I noticed early on in the life of the site that a lot of mothers, with children in the home, were submitting beautiful works.
As I got to know them, a pattern emerged: these were women who, for the most part, had relegated their creative aspirations, the art- making of their youth, in deference to the demands of children and homemaking and jobs and partners or lack of partners, to the hinterlands of later-in-life-maybe. Whatever artistic dreams they may once have had they put aside for the needs of the home and their families. It is an age-old story.
But at some point in the past four years, each of them got an iphone and started taking pictures, and then discovered apps, and without even realizing it, each found herself making art again, while the pasta cooked, while waiting in line at the supermarket, at the end of the night when the children went to bed, off and running making beautiful pictures and developing her own unique artistic style. She had the camera, the darkroom, the canvas, and the paintbrush in her hand anytime she needed it.
One strange little machine, with its very limited camera and fixed lens, the buggy photo apps for transforming the images, a life is changed, and beauty brought into the world. Repeat as needed.
I am very happy to share with you the works of nine of these mothers whose work I love and to let them tell in their own words what the iPhone has done for them and their creativity. What has happened for them has happened many thousands of times around the world I am sure, and will continue to happen. Mobile photography is an exploding global phenomenon. We are still at the beginning.
Let us hear from the moms themselves!
Laura Conomy, England
I’ve always considered myself to be a creative individual. I was painfully shy growing up and I still am to a certain degree but I always felt most at ease expressing myself through painting , drawing , writing or photography. As I went through school I was drawn to the more artistic subjects and I ended up completing a Fine arts degree in Printmaking with illustration . Growing up I had always wanted to be a children’s illustrator. However my failure to break into the field and get a job left me disillusioned. Fast forward five years or more: I had new priorities two small children and a part time job making and repairing jewellery ( which I continue to do and love). The only time I ever seemed to pick up a pencil or paint brush was for the girls school craft projects. I still enjoyed my photography but I didn’t have the funds or time to be more creative with it. I got my iPhone in April of 2010. I didn’t want one but my phone had broken and needed one fast. I felt that everyone had one and I didn’t want to be one of the sheep and follow the crowd ……..but once i realised i could acquire “apps” and explore their potential ……… I was happy to eat my words and I haven’t looked back. I was naturally drawn to the more creative “arty” apps. My daughters became my soul source of inspiration and I liked the dark, dramatic and striking effects I could achieve. It was my new medium and an ideal substitute for my long forgotten paints and drawing materials.
I strive for a strong narrative power in my images ….. sometimes its intended to be sinister and dark other times its not and I will set out to be ambiguous. I like the strange and ununsual and I adore old black and white movie stills .I feel inspired by the works of Tim Burton, Mark Ryden, Gjon Mili, H R Geiger to name but a few .
Iphoneography has given me a new lease of life and reawakened my creative passion which i didn’t believe I had anymore; it’s great to be part of it.
Kimberly Post Rowe, Maine
I’ve always been a creative person and have worked in music, publishing, and design for most of my adult life, but a series of broken relationships, the death of my first child, the birth of two more, and a battle with depression “forced” my creativity to take a backseat to what I believed was survival. I would go through phases of song-writing, picture-taking, and time-sucking hours with Photoshop, but it was an exhausting, lonely creativity with little reward.
I enjoyed the point-and-shoot quality of my first iPhone (the 3Gs) the way most mothers do, snapping pictures of my kids and food, until the day I bought my first photo app.
My son remembers it well: he came home from school to find his mother completely transformed into a Hipsta-addict. Yes, that’s right, I started with the popular and inflexible app Hipstamatic, but it immediately showed me the potential of my iPhone, not just as a camera but as an image-editing device. Suddenly everything I looked at was a potential image waiting to be captured and manipulated.
It was like my younger years before the pain of life and responsibilities of parenthood…everything seemed shiny and new. Plus the tactile nature of the screen made me feel like I waspainting (a skill I coveted but had never acquired). As I rapidly accumulated and experimented with apps, those time-sucking hours with Photoshop became a thing of the past, as did my loneliness, because one of the most amazing benefits of iPhoneography is the social potential.
I discovered a world-wide online community of other iphoneographers, all sharing their own images, commenting on others’ work, offering suggestions, support, and tutorage. The ongoing conversations on numerous blogs and gallery sites are inspirational and continuously push me to better my work. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice so aptly thought, “What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?”
iPhoneography nurtures me both socially and emotionally and unleashed creativity that my life had worked hard to suppress. It also pulled me out of my shell and into the exhibiting world, a place I haven’t been in since my 20s. Ironically, I seem to have more time to spare even though my life is much more full. I can work, be a mom to a tween and teen, write, play, and love, and still devote daily time to my art.
Edina Herold, Hungary
I had a leaning towards arts since my childhood. I was lucky to study in a school with great emphasis on discovering arts, where I learned music and fine arts. However after starting my professional life I was only randomly involved in artistic activity till the birth of my first child. It seem that I rediscovered creativity with the arrival of motherhood. Anyway, one must be creative to cope with the difficulties of raising a child. I began to paint, and sometimes to take photos with a point and shoot camera, but these pictures for only myself.
In 2009 I got an iPhone from my husband, and I started to take photos, but it wasn’t a serious engagement. About one and a half years ago I found my husband getting obsessed with iphoneography, and I was curious what it can be about. I also got infected in a few weeks. At the beginning I did it for myself, but my husband persuaded me to post it on Flickr. I was amazed with the iphoneography that I saw on Flickr and P1xels. This online community played a major role in my development as an iphoneographer.
Moreover this was the first occasion in my life when my works were publicly presented. I found something new, which was completely suitable to unleash my artistic needs. The iphone is a handy tool to work with. It is always with me, and whenever I have time I can make pictures, I can edit and post them.
After the years of hunting for the appropriate medium to express my inner contents I find an opportunity, which fits to my style of living. First and foremost I’m a mother, I also have a regular job, and I still have the chance to be creative. Fortunately my husband is an iphoneographer too, so he can understand my passion, but my children are also very supportive. I think it is very important that I can set up a model for them, that creativity depends only on the determination and not on the tool. I would like to teach them how to be creative in life. I think in this sense the iphone affected my life in a very positive way.
Lindsey Thompson, England
I live in Birmingham England with my partner and our two young children, ages 3 and 4. After leaving my position as an Accounts Manager to care full time for my children I happily threw myself into motherhood. As the children have grown and started to show more interest in arts, it has rekindled my passion for creativity.
I have always loved photography. In more recent years, particularly enjoyed capturing moments of my children as they have grown. We purchased a DSLR and whilst at home each day I would use it frequently to capture them as they were growing, all the milestones ~ first tastes, new teeth, first steps. I loved to document all of these special moments and loved to share them with family.
I purchased an iPhone 3G back in 2008, initially I never realised the potential of the phone as a camera, particularly because of the new DSLR, but after some time I realised the big camera wasn’t quite so handy to take out on journeys, it was bulky, my bag was normally full with baby paraphernalia, so understandably the camera would get left behind and moments were being missed.
Following an upgrade, the picture quality was a big leap from my previous 3G and I realised I was able to capture much better quality images. Over the months ahead it started to become my main camera. I was able to easily capture moments of my family on our journeys out, I loved the convenience, my phone was always there.
Over the last 10 months since taking iphoneography more seriously I have enjoyed experimenting with different apps and subjects. The photo is just the start, the journey in processing is many things to me ~ a great relaxation tool, artistic expression and the end result is hopefully something my children will one day enjoy and be proud of.
Emily Rose, Minnesota
My name is Emily Rose, I’m a 35 year old divorced, single mother of three delightful daughters ages 14, 9, and 6. I work full time as an Office Manager, and like all single working mothers, have a very demanding schedule. I have no artistic background but I had always wanted to have a creative hobby. I was never able to find one that I had enough time for, was safe to do around young children, and was affordable. Then I stumbled across iPhone Photography and it was life changing. It unlocked this intense creative passion in me – the world suddenly looked different; everything in my environment had the potential to become my artistic expression. I felt empowered because I could finally interact with all of the beautiful things that catch my eye. I felt like a piece of me, that I hadn’t even known was missing, had been found. iPhone photography the perfect medium for my hectic schedule; the camera is always with me, the low-cost (or free) photo editing apps are powerful and completely mobile (I enjoy editing photos anywhere or anytime I have a few free minutes), and uploading my images to share is fast and easy. The flexibility of the iPhone is what has allowed me to develop my creativity and become a passionate photographer, without sacrificing time with my family.
IPhone photography has changed my life in many amazing ways; it has even enriched my parenting. These days, I easily say “yes” to the kid’s messy art project because now I understand the importance of artistic expression. My passion for iPhone photography has also inspired me to bring my children on more nature walks and explore new places. I feel like I’m even a better role model for my daughters now, they are proud of the creative work I do. Mothers work hard every day and selflessly give all that they are to raising their children. Often, our creative needs get pushed aside due to time and financial constraints. This is exactly why iPhone photography is the perfect medium for busy moms in need of a creative outlet!
There is something magical about the iPhone, it’s unlike any other camera in the world. Perhaps it should come with a cautionary label: WARNING: iPhone photography is capable of igniting intense creative passion in users. Creative passion is life altering and irreversible!
Elizabeth Grilli, Washington
My four children. Nature. Photography. Art. People. All long-time passions of mine. Add to this the incredible tool that is the iPhone and the end result is a phenomenal new way for me to happily combine all of the above. I saw my first apped photos about six months ago on Facebook. Purchased my first of many photo editing apps that same day. Became instantly inspired and obsessed. A short time later, I was referred to P1xels, a premiere iPhone-only art site. Seeing the mind-blowing work being done, meeting the wonderful artists, finding the warm support for my own endeavors…well, it was like coming home. The iphonegraphy community is a diverse, ever-changing and colorful one, filled with some of the finest artists, photographers and photo-sharing web sites out there. I owe a lot to today’s technology, and to this tiny, convenient and versatile artistic tool. It is helping to awaken the artist within me in a vibrant, intense way I never thought possible.
All in a medium that I can access and utilize in the pediatrician’s waiting room or in line at the grocery store. To all of the busy moms (and dads!) out there who have themselves convinced that there’s simply no time for creative artistic expression: I urge you to give mobile photography a whirl…you just might amaze and delight yourself! Please view more of my art, and my fellow artist’s, by visiting the links below…
Karen Devine, Colorado
My love of photography began in the early 70’s after a brief stint as a model in NYC. The photographer’s job was far more interesting so I left and began studying photography in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I remember as a young kid wondering if there were alternative ways to communicate, and I found it through art. I studied every art form I could; painting, woodworking, printmaking, clay, drawing, alternative photography, and mixed media…and still take classes every year.
I literally jumped completely into iphone images, experimenting with new apps regularly, depending on what I saw others using. I spent every extra minute I had creating images on this tiny screen finding it quite liberating to be able to create anytime, anywhere and again, creating visual diaries of my life. I could tap into the creative spirit while on the airplane, the waiting rooms, before the kids came home and any free moment that came along.
It was a completely new way to create and I had to learn to be happy with each decision and placement of parts of images. It was a new and exciting challenge.
I have grown to love this community of iphone artists. It is quite an eclectic group of men and women, some with art backgrounds and others with just a natural talent that they have unleashed with this small device. It has opened up the creative juices of many people and has allowed a new form of expression to take shape.
The images become a reflection of what I see and experience around me. I don’t plan or organize ahead of time because what transpires is always better than what my mind attempts to direct. I have learned to step aside, I have learned to shoot whatever moves me and I have learned to quiet the critic. I believe keeping my art for my “self” all those early years has enabled me to live outside the boxes and remain free. As my unintentional inspiration for the last series of Strange Things, Ms. Barbara Hepworth has said, “I rarely draw what I see. I draw what I feel in my body”.
More of Karen’s work on Pixels here.
Maia Panos, Berkeley, CA
I’ve been doing iphoneography for about two years. I love it; I’m passionate about it. I grew up in a very artistic family. Art was around me all the time. In my teens and early twenties, I spent all my time drawing, painting, doing water colors, and writing. In recent years, I haven’t done anything artistic, but the iphone has brought that back into my life and for that I am grateful. I am a widow and the mother of a four-year old daughter. I had no time, or so I thought, for art again. I loved taking pictures when I first got my iPhone. I took them constantly, pictures of my daughter, my dog, parties, friends. Nothing for art.
One day Knox Bronson showed me an app, Toy Camera. I tried it out and we started exchanging our Toy Camera pictures and it was really fun to see what we were both doing with it. And then I got introduced to Best Camera, which was a little more advanced than ToyCamera. Then I started combining the apps on images and it took off from there. I like the challenge of keeping the image on the iPhone: it is a new art medium in my opinion. All my painterly instincts come into play when I work on pictures. As my tool kit of apps started building, so did my technique. I love taking a raw picture and turning it into something else completely. I like working on the small screen, and the challenge of the bugs in the apps. With that tiny screen, you really have to go in there and perfect things.
My method is very slow. It usually takes me a week or more to finish a picture. I’m very precise and detail-oriented. Sometimes I’ll stop working on picture to work on another and when I come back to the first, something clicks and I know what to. I usually use several different apps – for color, texture, all sorts of manipulations – and I tend to layer different versions of the image on top of each other. The first time I saw one of my prints blown up, I was blown away. It was a 30″x40″ print of “A Day In The Life.”
I’m still finding new ways to use the apps I have. The iPhone has brought the making of art back into my life.