I first came across the photographic work of Grace Brignolle on Flickr and immediately fell in love with her style of iPhone street photography especially the series which focusses in on the subject of legs.
Originally from Equador, Grace is a passionate Iphoneographer who now lives in New York. In between running her own business and keeping up with her three daughters, she makes time to photograph the streets of New York City.
Grace’s iPhone photography work has been featured in INK361, iphoneographers magazine, HIPSTOGRAPHY, IPhone Photography School, P1xels, Mobile Photography/Streets ahead, Streetview/24hours Project and TheAppWhisperer.
How were you first introduced to iPhone photography?
I was introduced to Iphoneography three years ago while attending a photo walk in New York City. I was amazed by the images that I captured during the photo walk and I immediately saw the potential not only in the iPhone (as a camera) but also within myself. There began my journey of daily reading and studying those photographers who came before me i.e Bresson, Winogrand, Parr, Evans etc and trying to put into practice what I read.
How would you describe your style and approach to your photography?
I try to straddle “style” between aggressive and subtle depending on what I see develop before me. What I mean is that if I’m required to get up close to a subject because the composition would be strong and effective, I will get up close; whether photographing a face or legs. If a more subtle approach is required than maybe I’ll be further away than normal. Whatever it is that I want to convey through the scene that is presented before me, than I’ll do whatever I have to to get that image.
A prominent theme in your portfolio of work is legs. Why legs and what is it about them that made you decide to focus in on them as a subject?
My love about photographing LEGS started one day when I was scouting around Soho/NYC, I saw this young woman wearing stilettos with stripped green and white knee highs. I followed her for about 3 blocks and because I could not get the focus just right (due to her walking), I just decided to ask her to pose for me she acquiesced. It was then, AT THAT MOMENT that I fell in love photographing LEGS. In my opinion, LEGS are the most beautiful and sensual part on a woman’s body and I LOVE capturing them.
How do you approach people in your street photography especially if you want to photograph their legs? Do you get a lot of resistance or are people relaxed about the idea of being photographed?
As far as asking permission, I generally do not ask permission when I photograph. It’s such a reactionary process that there is very little time to ask. I see, I shoot, I glance a smile, and I move; that’s how it happens, generally. There are instances where I have asked for permission and they usually say yes, in which case I’ll ask them to pose a certain way, shoot them, exchange information (if they so desire) and keep moving. If they say “no”, I say thank you, and I keep moving.
When it comes to street photography I capture moments, moments that are fleeting. If I see something that draws me to photograph, and I stop to take the time to ask him/her/they “if I may photograph them?”, then the moment is gone. I am very fortunate that I live in such a well photographed city like New York where you can walk outside of your door and see 3 people photographing something. So people aren’t generally put off (generally) when you’re photographing them and if they show resistance and ask me to delete the photograph, I will.
What would you say are the key ingredients that make up a great street photograph?
If there is anything that I learned early on was to have my phone out all of the time. Scenes happen very quickly and it makes no sense in having your phone in your pocket or knapsack and missing these opportunities; have your phone out. While anticipation is developed over time, it’s a valuable element in street photography. Trying to understand behaviour in a city that moves quickly is part of the challenge for me in wanting to produce a strong image. Walking around where you live and studying one’s own environment and how people interact with the environment will aid you in developing anticipation, a scene.
What apps do you use and is there a process you follow in your post production processing?
While I try and keep up with new editing apps, my editing is kept to a few apps, like Snapseed, VSCO and Oggl.
What advice would you give newcomers to iPhone photography?
Understand your camera, in this case, your mobile camera. Learn what it can and can’t do. Know that you’ll make mistakes but don’t be discouraged, understand that this is apart of the process of becoming a better photographer. Shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Study and learn from those photographers you admire, glean lessons from what you’ve read and put their advice into practice. Visit places that you’re unfamiliar with and take that sense of curiosity and look for new and interesting things or people to photograph.
What advice could you give to help people tell powerful stories through the photographs they take?
Understanding your environment and how people interact with the said environment is a strong driver in trying to tell a story through your photography. Try to take interesting photographs and avoid cliche’s or boring photographs.
Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you are not feeling what you are looking at, then you are never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures – Don Mc Mullin.
Do you have any incredible stories or encounters that have shaped your approach to your street photography?
I don’t have any “ONE MOMENT” that changed things around for me but I will say that I’ve met some incredible photographers, whether in person or online that have helped me in terms of helping me develop my photography. Whether it’s dropping me an email encouraging me and challenging me to view my surroundings differently or as simple as my friends and I sharing stories of successes and failures. You fail a lot in photography, specifically street photography due to the unpredictable nature of this branch of photography and it’s been those connections that have helped me stay focused and grounded.
Connect with Grace Brignolle