Nicki Fitz-Gerald is a passionate iPhone photographer and mobile artist. She is also the founder of the fantastic website iPhoneographyCentral.com and probably one of the original members of the iPhoneography movement itself.
Nicki lives and works in the seaside town of Weymouth, on the south coast of England. She has a huge passion for creating photographs and art on her iPhone which resulted in her co-authoring the best selling book “The Art of iPhone Photography” as well as hosting an online iPhoneography series for AdoramaTV.
Her portfolio of work consists of a mixture of street photography and abstract art which has been influenced by her background in graphic design and illustration.
Nicki’s unique style has seen her work win several awards both in and out of the iPhoneography community and has been featured on TV adverts as well as on book covers and magazines. Her work has been exhibited around the world in places like the MPLS Photo Centre in Minneapolis, the Soho Gallery for Digital Art in New York and in galleries in Australia and Canada.
Nicki has been very active in the last couple of years leading workshops and photowalks as well as hosting exhibitions. Towards the end of 2016 she released an online course called ‘Adventures in Mobile Artistry’ and is one I have just completed myself.
I caught up with Nicki to find out more about her course, her approach to the mobile art she creates and plans for the coming year.
Firstly, tell us about yourself and your background in the arts.
I have a BA honours degree in Graphic Design, specialising in illustration from Chelsea School of Art in London. I was an illustrator for many years specialising in illustration for magazines and book covers.
So, how did you discover iPhone photography and in particular mobile art.
I became the owner of an iPhone by chance in 2009. My partner was offered the phone as part of a phone deal but he didn’t want it and offered it to me. It seems funny to me now that I didn’t particularly want it either; I only wanted a phone that could make phone calls, not one that had fancy, gimmicky apps on it. Inevitably, I found the camera quite useful but it was the blurred and accidental shots, often with abstract compositions that really fired my imagination. From there on I began experimenting with all kinds of apps. I was like a child in a sweet store trying out all the apps that interested me like Stripecam, Picture Show, Iris photo Suite.
My background in graphics demands that you have a good knowledge of different techniques so I was drawn to apps that could produce distinct styles like Toonpaint, BlurFx and Picture Show, Iris Photo Suite, Superimpose and Photoforge were some of the first on the scene that promised the possibilities of Photoshop. Today I mostly use Leonardo for multi-layering images. I also discovered Mobile Art through websites like Pixels and iPhoneart which were very inspirational galleries. Blogs like Marty Yawnick’s LifeinLofi and Glyn Evans iPhoneography were also creative iPhone photography lifelines at the time, both reviewing the latest apps and features.
Over the last couple of years you have been quite active in teaching iPhone photography and mobile art workshops and recently released an online course. What inspired you to create the course?
Over the years, posting my iPhone art on sites like Flickr and Instagram gained me a lot of followers. Fellow Flickr and Instagram members regularly posted comments asking me about the techniques I used and where I got my inspiration from. I’d always planned to put these answers and a whole more in one place – and now this place exists, it’s the new course: Adventures in Creative Mobile Artistry.
It has been quite a challenge putting it altogether. You have to approach your work from a totally objective view and consider carefully what your audience will be interested in. I gathered as much information as I could from the questions and comments on my social media feeds and thankfully, the hard work seems to have paid off since the course has been received extremely well and I have personally received some very touching comments.
How is the course structured, who is it aimed at and what will people learn from it?
I think the course has much wider appeal than just beginners since I know a lot of experienced iPhoneographers that have bought the course and have expressed their delight in learning many new techniques. I cover a lot of essential “Photoshop style” techniques like layering, blending and masking – but the course is not just about learning techniques, there’s a underlying structure of learning that encourages bold moves and trusting one’s intuition when creating a piece of art. I know some of the DLSR photographers who have bought the course have really been looking to free up their creativity. Fine art photographer and blogger from definitelydreaming.com, Janet Broughton described the course as follows;
“I can’t help but feel that this [course] could be my missing thing. It combines two things I’ve felt pulled to, collages and digital art…now I wouldn’t normally recommend or link to courses or products but this has me so excited about the creative possibilities that I’ve decided to make an exception.”
How long would it take to complete?
It really depends on the individual. People learn at different paces and what’s great about the course is you get a lifetime membership so anyone who signs up can go at their own pace. You can start and finish when you like. I know people who started before Christmas and are now picking it up again in the New Year. There’s about 10 hours of video in total so for those of you who just like to watch a whole course without pausing for notes or to see a technique more clearly, you could easily watch over a couple of days but the course is really designed to get you doing your own work in between with some activity suggestions and it’s up to you how long you take to do these.
How has the course been received?
I have been totally bowled over by how well the course has been received from individual comments from photographers, artists and hobbyists as well some great reviews from iPhoneography giants like Joanne Carter from the App Whisperer.
The course walks people through the processes of creating digital art using an array of apps. Which are your favourites apps to use and why?
The apps I use from day to day are:
ProCamera – for shooting, great for controlling independent focus and exposure, great control for colour temperature and excellent HDR feature for those times when you have strong contrasts of light and dark in your photo
Slow Shutter Cam – I use this app to literally paint with light creating photo paintings that are impressionist in style. Great for capturing magical moods when the light is right.
BlurFX – I have used this app for years. It melts the colours of images into huge areas of abstract forms like no other App. iColorama’s SIMPLIFY option is a close second to producing this effect but BlurFX is still the boss of blur.
Mextures – Simply wonderful for applying magnificent textures and lightleaks with dramatic effects. Fully editable, Mextures has hidden depths and multiple effect combinations that I am still enjoying exploring
Snapseed – All round good egg with a huge range of tools for fine tuning an image. The features I use most of all are fine tune, selective, brush, tilt-shift and vintage which is usually better than the vignette option.
Procreate – This is an artistic app with a whole range of artistic tools and features like brushes, pencils, splatter. I employ this app to inject a bit of movement and energy into my images.
Where can people sign up for the course?
We have met on a few occasions and I am blown away by the energy and passion you have for iPhone photography. What is it that drives your curiosity and passion for mobile photography?
It is wonderful to meet up with fellow iPhone photographers like yourself and hopefully we will be meeting again in May at Mojocon 2017. What drives my desire to keep creating on a mobile phone is my curiosity to see what happens when I combine element A with element B, and C etc but more importantly, underpinning this experimental and playful approach is a real desire to connect with others and to express emotions that I find difficult to do in any other way. This quote I found recently on puts my aims very well: As Rainer Maria Rilke expresses beautifully in “Letters to a Young Poet:”
“Depict your sorrows and desires, your passing thoughts and beliefs in some kind of beauty, depict all that with heartfelt, quiet, humble sincerity and use to express yourself the things that surround you, the images of your dreams and the objects of your memory.”
Do you have any plans for any other online courses or real world workshops
I am thrilled to say that I have been invited to give a talk on my work at The Los Angeles Festival of Photography on 22 April which is very exciting. As well as meeting up with my dear friend and co-author of our book “The Art of iPhone Photography” I will be meeting for the first time some of the contributors to our book including David Ingraham, Cecily Batey Caceu. Lynette Jackson. I will also be helping lead in a workshop and photowalk at MojoCon 2017 in Galway, Ireland alongside Brendan O Se, Paul Moore and yourself, Andy Butler.