Where do you live?
Venice California. Born in South Africa. Came to New York on a college scholarship; tarried in Manhattan for eighteen years before decamping to California.
What kind of art were you doing before the iPhone?
When I started I shot with Leicas and Nikon Fs. When I went digital I shot with Nikon 70, 200, 300. I did mostly street and documentary photography.I had three exhibitions in Venice in the 2000s, two with Nikon, one with iPhone 5.
Can you tell us what happened when you first started shooting pictures with your iPhone?
All I wanted to do was shoot: the street, the beaches, flowers, portraits, dogs. I was liberated from toting around kilos of camera stuff, deciding which lenses to use, what parameters to dial in, having to wait to get home to the computer to play with the pics. In my pocket I had my camera, my studio, my global audience. I loved the simplicity and the challenge of the fixed specs. The app ecosystem made me think of my work as more than technical image making – I could be artistic and venture into realms I had never considered before. And it enlarged my appreciation of genres I had previously put down as “artsy.”
Who were the first iPhoneographers/artists who caught your eye?
Seeing Barbara Coleman Dubois’s work blew me away. I started playing with my iPhone 4 and Hipstamatic (which I discovered on the New York Times weekly tech section). I then came across Meri Walker, Lee Atwell, Sheldon Serkin, Armineh Hovanesian, Carolyn Hall Young, Gianluca Ricoveri. Finding Pixels and Joanne Carter’s Appwhisperer community I was off and running into exclusive obsessed iPhoneography.
What or who else inspires you? Painters? Photographers? Other plastic arts? Music? Literature?
Painters, wow, this is impossible, but here goes: Hopper, Rousseau, Kahlo, Piero de la Francesco, Renoir, Breughel, German Expressionists Photographers: Atget, Lisette Model, Mary Ellen Mark, Cindy Sherman, Modotti, Elliot Erwitt
Music: the whole classical shebang, which for me is the music of the spheres: The Divine M, Bach, Berlioz, Wagner, Richard Strauss. Then the great soul stirrers: Leonard Cohen, Ellington, K.D. Lang, and blues, blues, blues.
Literature: Well, the library, but in particular, Tolstoi, Proust, Zola, Margaret Atwood, Trollope, Woolf, Faulkner
Movies: Bergman, Kubrick
What are your go-to apps?
Snapseed, iColorama, LightBrush, Retouch, Distressed FX, Superimpose, PhotoCopier
If you had to choose three creatures, real or imaginary, to be your personal totem pole, what would they be?
How many times have you fallen asleep with the phone in your hand while apping a picture?
Never. Want to be fully conscious while apping
Cats or dogs?
Dogs all my life, but I’ve had some amazing, beloved cats
Has there been any surprising impact on your life from the iPhone, something you didn’t expect?
New friends. An astonishing widening of my social horizons. More juice than I ever expected to have in my older years. An enlarged appreciation of the artistic in photography.
Do you have a mantra for daytime? For nighttime? For anytime?
Carpe diem. Do it while you can
A last word perhaps?
The greatest influence on the second half of my life: Steve Jobs, in so many dimensions.
Thank you, Susan.
I posted two galleries of Susan’s work here, in March of 2014. Be sure to take a look. Below is a sampling of her wonderful oeuvre.