It is with great pleasure that I’m able to introduce a new columnist to Mobiography, Mark T Simmons with his new feature ‘The Photo I Am Most Proud Of’. So without further a do I’ll hand you over to Mark.

Each week I will be asking a mobile photographer to choose the one image of their’s that they are most proud of. It does not have to be their best or the one that has received the most recognition, just the one image that they feel more attached to emotionally than any other.

Our first artist and the one who will kick off this weekly feature is Paula Gardener (Jahsharn).

I first came across Paula’s work through her images “Making Waves” and “Family Holidays“, both are amazing travel images that should, in my opinion be entered in this year’s Mobile Photography Awards Travel category. However, it was only after discovering her as an artist that I came to realise that Paula’s strength as a portrait photographer is something very special. Strong, intense, and highly personal images that capture so much emotion from her subjects and herself, they have the ability to pull you in with their rawness and not let you go.

The Photo I Am Most Proud Of…

paula-gardner

Paula Gardner

I live in London, a city diverse in so many ways, culturally, religiously you name it, a thriving metropolises! This is my home, my comfort zone, I suppose that’s why I love and embrace portrait photography. I’m captivated by its people, their relationships, whether it be reserved or passionately open. I have always tried to convey this in my work. Portraiture is a brilliant way to reveal ones true nature. It can also evoke so much from the viewer, it’s the response that truly makes a portrait perfect, albeit sometimes an inward response. If it compels you to think, question or maybe you’ve been offended by it, it has worked.

This self portrait is my most personal one to date. I named it ‘Exposed’ mainly because that’s exactly what I have done. I wanted to unveil my true self, an act that took me awhile to feel comfortable with. As a mother I’m constantly encouraging my children to love who they are, embrace all their strengths and weaknesses. Don’t change to please others, instead grow, and become the best that they can be. I want to convey to my children as well as those who happen to come across this portrait, that this is me. I am no longer defined by societies version of beauty, I have truly learned to love and accept who I am.

Capturing this image perfectly was essential for creating the vision I had for this portrait, I wanted it to have an impact on first glance. Using the iPhone 5 I positioned myself next to a natural light source. The lighting needed to be harsh, however not too much that it would lead to an overexposed image. All the post editing was performed within Snapseed. Firstly I changed the image to black and white, enhancing the contrast while tweaking the undertones of my skin within the B&W menu. Finally I blurred the edges slightly using the tilt shift tab, this way the viewer is drawn into my face more. My influence behind the style of my work would be the great portrait photographers who paved the way for us all. Irving Penn being my favourite, his famous portrait of Miles Davis floors me every time I see it; he was truly an amazing photographer.

When my daughter viewed this portrait for the first time, she expressed how it made her feel stronger, proud of herself, proud of me. I’m always grateful and humbled by the feedback I receive online, however to hear my daughter say those words, that’s my true inspiration. I pray she will always feel that way.

Connect with Paula Gardener

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