I recently rediscovered the photos I took while travelling across Africa during my gap year in 1991. The way we captured and interacted with our photographs was so different then. Putting a physical film in the back of my camera meant I had only one chance to capture each of those significant moments.
I wouldn’t know if I’d taken a decent shot until, four months later, I returned home and eagerly awaited the collection of my photographs from Boots. I took a whole film of photos in the Sahara – capturing incredible scenes of sand dunes as far as the eye could see, and my friends rolling down them. Not one of them came out. In those days, photographs were returned with helpful stickers attached to the more disappointing ones, saying ‘subject too close’ or ‘try using a flash’. There wasn’t a sticker for ‘you got sand in your camera, you fool’.
Hours were then spent sticking them into an album and labelling each one, just in case I forgot which bridge we were repairing that day, or where I’d had those torturous corn-rows done. Just as well, because my memory is absolutely shot.
I haven’t put photographs into an album since the boys were babies. Every moment, significant or otherwise is now captured on my iPhone and downloaded onto Facebook or Instagram. Those snaps will be there for the kids to enjoy/regret long after they leave home, while most of my photo albums have returned to their dusty boxes in the garage.
As I’ve written about here before, I’m an ambassador for Funzing, which offers unusual and interesting experiences, hosted by people just like us. I’m really into learning new skills so wanted to see if my iPhone photography could be improved with one of their workshops.
Last Saturday I joined the Smartphone Photography tour hosted by Foto Ruta London, booked through Funzing. Five women, from different walks of life, came together for an afternoon in Brixton, to learn how to master iPhoneography.
Our guide, Cecilia, was incredibly knowledgeable as well as making the afternoon a real pleasure. We spent the first hour in the Ritzy Cinema bar, discussing the basics of composition, light, themes, lines and patterns and the rule of thirds. She showed us how to use an app called VSCO, which I’ve been using as an editing tool for a while, but had no idea it could also be used to take photographs.
We were then taken out onto the streets of Brixton, the market and Brixton Village. This is an area full of tradition, street art, vibrant cafes, market stalls and a lot of eccentricity.
Five of us snapped away at architecture, shop fronts, murals and street scenes before returning to the bar for a well-deserved glass of wine and to compare and discuss our photographs.
Choosing just five photos from the walkabout was quite a challenge, but gave us the material to practice our editing skills, using VSCO and another app called Snapseed.
The course highlighted how little I knew before about Smartphone photography and how much more I can get from the technology. I’m so pleased with my photographs from the day. The workshop has changed the way I will take photographs on my iPhone forever. If you head over to my Instagram feed, hopefully you’ll be able to see the improvement.
Let me know what you think.