Paul Brown aka Skip of Skipology.com has a unique style of mobile photography and an active member of the iPhoneography community. He’s a member of the ‘AMPt Community’, a managing member of Lincolnshire based regional mobile photography Group ‘InstaChimps’ and a founding artist at ‘New Era Museum’. He was a featured blogger for a short while at iPhone Life Magazine.
His work has been exhibited a few times at ‘My World Shared’, ‘mObilepixatiOn’ and ‘Pixel This’ – a small curated charity exhibition where he was honoured to be exhibited alongside celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax, Peter Capaldi and Alexander Siddig. He was also a finalist in the Photobox Motographer of The Year 2012 with my image ‘Skipping’.
What was it that first captured your imagination about iPhone photography?
Until about 2 1/2 years ago I didn’t own a mobile phone (I’d had a really basic one with no camera for work). My wife bought me an iPhone for my birthday and I found that the only thing I really wanted to do with it was take photographs. I quickly discovered Camera+ and Hipstamatic and a small handful of apps and really progressed in blissful isolation for a while. A professional photographer friend mentioned that I was an iPhoneographer and I thought he’d just made the word up. Obviously he hadn’t.
Describe your photographic style?
Eclectic and inconsistent! Many times I have been told that people see an image and it is immediately recognisable as one of mine. I enjoy iPhoneography in all it’s forms. I have always been steadfast in my belief that my aim is to capture an atmosphere and not an image. I don’t see myself as documenting my life or my world although maybe I do that and add my own twist to it. My greatest joy comes from capturing a street shot I’m happy with – often a grower. One that sits on my camera roll maybe for weeks before I appreciate it. If I’m feeling introverted I will tend to revert to my textured painterly still life images – quite often floral. I’ve played a little with surreal works but complete abstract is something my logical mind struggles to create. For precisely that reason I appreciate the work of others in this area all the more. My friends who churn out amazing Decim8 work know that this is my arch nemesis.
You have a very unique style, describe your workflow and the apps you use.
My street images are quite often captured in Hipstamatic or Oggl but I’m not a purist with those apps and am very happy to edit as I see fit. If I do edit, Snapseed is always involved for its Drama and Structure filters and I love it’s black and white conversion even though I have specialist apps and also VSCOcam. I try not to crop heavily other than to change proportions or crop borders but if I need to resize (until recently I was working with restricted resolution of an iPhone4), I resize at the first stage in the edit using Filterstorm to get to a minimum 2,000px square. I have an iPhone5 now so it’s rarely an issue.
For my still life images I tend to a more painterly style. Capture is normally via ProCamera, initial edits in Snapseed ideally to get a really clean image which I will save for later blending. Snapseed will also add the first texture layer via the Grunge filter. Then really it’s a case of ‘app-stacking’ to get a unique look. Apps would include Modern Grunge, Mextures, Distressed FX, Handy Photo and for masking and blending various versions Superimpose.
Where do you get your inspiration? Are there any photographers that have influenced your work?
After a little while playing alone with my iPhone I fired up Facebook and Google+ and started to join in. One or two of my images got noticed by people and gradually I started to meet some amazing people from all over the world. As opposed to many who quote famous artists or photographers as their influences in the early days especially it was this community as a whole that I learned a lot from and was inspired by. On a day to day basis my family inspire me. I’m sure many will associate with the “not right now Dad” or “I’ll only be 5 minutes, you go on I’ll catch you up.”
You are the founder of the Skipology website. Could you tell us a bit about its history and what inspired you to set it up?
Sure Andy. Skipology is a second generation site. I started out with a site called phoneographer.org which was my first ever WordPress site. Being self taught and with no experience I made loads of mistakes and decided it was easier to start again and so Skipology was born. Primarily I was determined that as its audience was intended to be mobile it should be as mobile friendly as possible. It just seemed bizarre to approach it any other way. So I invested in a new theme, adapted it a bit and set it up.
I’m an introvert, I mean painfully introverted so the combination of the occasional Street iPhoneography session and sharing my iphoneography world both in terms of tutorial posts and even video tutorials is all totally self motivated. If someone forced me to do it I probably wouldn’t be able to. I do it all on my own terms. I can feel the impact it has on my self confidence. I know that I have knowledge that others would benefit from – we all do. It just gives me a great deal of pleasure and even joy when people acknowledge that they’ve learnt something new or been inspired by something I’ve done.
I have never claimed to be an expert – its just that I’ve served my time as an apprentice and I feel the need to help others through their early stages. I don’t see myself anywhere near the forefront of the genre. Just an experienced hobbiest.
You are involved in several prominent mobile groups and communities including the New Era Museum. Could you tell us about the NEM group?
The New Era Museum is a collection of mobile photography artists who are committed to promoting the mobile art form. I am honoured to be amongst the founding artists but will be the first to admit that my time working with them other than browsing their great work has been limited. They are a great and talented group pushing the boundaries of conventional street / mobile photography. The best source of information really is the http://neweramuseum.org web site and all mobile photographers can get involved either via the web site or via the frequent Actions run by the artists via the EyeEm app. I would encourage anyone with time to get involved with the Actions.
As well as NEM you are also a managing member of Lincolnshire based regional mobile photography Group ‘InstaChimps’. Tell us about Instachimps?
The InstaChimps exists as a Facebook Group primarily made up of mobile photographers in the Lincolnshire area. That said, we have members overseas and if people with an interest in mobile photography ask to join then they are very welcome. Originally I was invited to join a group called the Shutter Chimps which was mainly aimed at traditional photography. I think as more and more members developed an interest in mobile photography the serious DSLR photographers felt the Group lost focus and so the InstaChimps was born as an offshoot. Many are members of both Groups.
We have a weekly challenge with the 4 administrators taking it in turns to judge. The winner selects the next week’s topic. We operate like a normal Facebook Group with chat and discussion but very informal.
What sets it apart from other groups I am a member of is that there are physical meet ups which are relatively easy to arrange. We also have annual mobile photography exhibitions in Lincoln which are always well received. This year was our second exhibition and we had many repeat visitors from the first year so we must be doing something right.
How has being a part of these mobile communities helped you in your development as a mobile photographer?
Combined with social media they’ve influenced me massively. I had no interest at all in painterly or textured work until I was introduced to it by the Communities. They are a constant source of inspiration. There is absolutely no doubt that they have helped me mould my style. They’ve also influenced my app purchases and clearly having the right tools is a big part of translating the vision in your mind to the screen. Most of all they give me support and confidence.
Do you have any future plans for other projects?
You know Andy, I feel like I have lots of plates spinning at the moment. If anything I’d like to reduce my commitments but iPhoneography is my escape. My plan is quite simply to keep doing what I can, sharing when I can and having fun. As always, I have no plans to enter any serious competitions or exhibitions. I just want to have fun and enjoy the Community. If something crops up along the way then great but I have no plans to make anything happen.
Where can people connect with you online?
I am Skipology – My blog links to most of my networks at www.skipology.com. I can also be looked up via my about me page. If anyone wants to connect as a result of reading this article please drop me a note with a tag on whichever network. I don’t want to miss connecting with fellow mobile photographers but sometimes I do miss things. I won’t miss a direct communication / tag though 🙂