What is your name and where do you live?
Hello! My name is Elaine Taylor. I live in Leeds, Yorkshire (UK) with my husband (Stephen) and our sons (Charlie & Billy).
How did you get started in mobile photography? What device do you use?
I’ve always loved taking snaps and looking at other people’s photos. I never get bored! When I got an iPhone 3S, nearly 4 years ago, I discovered a whole new world of photography. A friend introduced me to Hipstamatic, and soon after that I found Instagram. That was it. I was hooked! I have an iPhone 5S now and it’s the only camera I use. I love mobile photography; it’s become a huge part of my every day life.
Do you have a traditional photography or art background?
No formal photography training, but what I lack in training I certainly make up for in enthusiasm! I graduated with a degree in Fine Art over 25 years ago (I feel so old!). I was steered in that direction but wasn’t really that interested in it. I wasn’t even that good at it. Really, I wasn’t. I didn't particularly enjoy the course but I absolutely loved my three years as a student (during which time I met my husband). I graduated and immediately left art behind me. I went into people and admin management; a field I worked in for over 20 years. When I put work on the back burner to spend more time with my family, I threw myself further into mobile photography, and by doing so, discovered that it was a great way to bring art and creativity into my every day.
Who or what inspires you?
My main inspiration comes from Charlie, Billy and Stephen. My husband knows how much I enjoy mobile photography. He’s interested in what I create and is incredibly encouraging. He has the most amazing positive ‘can do’ attitude. My children are my main photo subjects. They are such wonderful, interesting and funny boys (they can drive me up the wall at times too, of course), and they have a fantastic relationship. I can’t help but want to try to capture some of that in my photos.
I’m also inspired by so many people that I’ve connected with through mobile photography. It never ceases to amaze me what others create with a mobile device, and I have learned so much from so many of them. There are far too many to mention them all, but I would like to say thanks at this point to Nei Cruz, Ben Guerrette and Milos Kalvin, who have made my mobile photography experience just that little bit more special and have helped me to take it in directions I never thought possible.
I am also inspired by groups and resources such as your Art of Mob, The App Whisperer, iPhone Photography School and Mobiography. I’m always discovering and learning something new through those. Our community is very lucky to have such a rich source of inspiration.
Your gallery is full of imagery of day to day life. Do you plan your shoots or spontaneously photograph what catches your eye?
I like to shoot as candidly as possible so I don’t plan shots. I always have my iPhone with me though and so will expect to take some photos as I go about my day. I snap whatever I see, but the photos I share most are those of Charlie and Billy.
I'm assuming the children in your photos are related to you - do they enjoy being photographed?
Yes they are my sons, Charlie (11) and Billy (9). They are full of life and always on the go. A lot of the time they don’t realize I’m photographing them (thanks to my iPhone). If they are aware they’re usually happy to let me get on with it (as long as I’m not spoiling their fun). If I ask them for a particular photo, they usually oblige (with time constraints!). I’ll shamelessly resort to bribery if I think a shot is worth it. It’s got to the stage now though where sometimes they will suggest a shot that might work well with them in it. I love it when that happens. I share all my work with my husband and my boys. It’s incredibly important to me that they like what I’m doing.
What advice would you give to photographers who would like to capture their children in a natural setting without looking posed?
I’m certainly no expert. I’m an enthusiastic mum with an iPhone who loves taking photos of my children and turning them into something just a little bit different from everyday snaps.
Photographing children can be a challenge. They are unpredictable. They get bored. They move. They won’t pose if they don’t want to. But these challenges bring huge satisfaction. To me, there’s nothing more rewarding than capturing my children ‘in the moment’, so it’s important to have my phone to hand, and to be able to easily access the apps I shoot with most (Hipstamatic and ProCamera). I also think it’s important to be patient and to let children do their thing without interfering too much. I’ll often be found lying on the ground, standing on a wall or breathlessly running ahead of my boys to get different perspectives. Sometimes I wait patiently in a spot for just the right moment, but usually I’ll move around and take a quite few shots with my phone (on silent!) - I’ll usually get a bunch of not so good shots, a few that I was aiming for, and sometimes one or two unexpected gems.
Light is important. I prefer to take photos outdoors in natural light. I get better photos and my boys are free to do run about without too many restrictions. I try to be aware of the background, and sometimes I will cunningly steer my boys in a certain direction or position by suggesting a challenge or something, just to get them to where I want.
Do you do a lot of post processing of your photos? What apps do you prefer to use?
I shoot with Hipstamatic and ProCamera. Most of the time I will do some kind of editing, even if it’s just removing a border from a Hipstamatic shot. Usually my first step is to take an image into Snapseed to tidy it, crop/rotate and make some first stage tuning adjustments. I adore Snapseed!
If I want to do more to an image there’s a whole range of apps I might use. Stackables and Mextures are my favorite apps for adding textures and layers. I adore the Pixite suite of apps (Union, Tangent, Fragment and Matter in particular), which I’m lucky enough to be a beta tester for. They have a never-ending range of effects that have inspired me to be more creative. I also like TouchRetouch for removing unwanted elements in my images and the Magic Crop function in HandyPhoto has become a very useful tool.
Congrats on being awarded 2nd Place in the "Others" category for the 2015 iPhone Photography Awards (IPPA). How did you go about selecting the images to enter?
Thank you. What a very pleasant surprise that was. I was chuffed to bits when I found out. I was also awarded 5 honorable mentions this year which is just fab. It’s such an enormous treat for me to think someone liked my work enough to recognize it in that way. I was mentioned alongside some amazing people, which made the treat all the more sweet.
Choosing the images was so much harder than I thought. I pride myself on being organized and a good administrator, but I’m shocking when it comes to organizing my photos. They’re all over the place, so it was a job to find them never mind choose my final entries. I wanted to submit images that really captured the spirit of my boys, so most were of them, but I also wanted to include a few other subjects so there were a couple of street shots and some floral images. I just chose the ones I liked best and if I wasn’t sure about a choice, I’d ask my boys and they’d help me out. The hopscotch image you’re referring to was actually my very last decision. I almost didn’t enter it because I wasn’t sure which category it would fit into, but it’s quite an emotional image for me and I really wanted to include it. It’s about Charlie moving from primary to secondary school; about him entering a new phase of his life; about him needing my guidance just that little less. I was grateful for the ‘Others’ category!
Congrats again on recently being selected as a Suggested User on Instagram. How has this affected your interaction with the community there? (Obviously you can't reply to every comment now!)
Thank you again. That was another pleasant surprise this year. I felt really overwhelmed if I’m being honest. I was very happy, although the rate at which my follower numbers went up was a bit bonkers. I wasn’t sure I liked that bit. That’s all calmed down now and my numbers are slowly decreasing again. I’d like to think the people who are following my work do so for good reason, but I’m under no illusion that being a Suggested User attracts quite a range of followers. I’m not complaining though. I feel lucky.
I don’t think being a Suggested User has really affected my interaction. I get a few extra comments on images but nothing substantial. I have always enjoyed being a very active member of the IG community. That’s how I’ve ended up being involved with so many groups I guess. I try to make time to look around at what other people are doing. I regularly look through my favorite tags and groups – it’s a great way to discover people and their work. If I see something I like I will let them know and maybe let someone else know too. It’s amazing how quickly time flies when I’m just taking a look around. I need to be more disciplined!
Much of my interaction revolves around my involvement with groups such as @AMPt, @ink361, @childrenphoto, @hotshotz_ and @silhouette_creative. It’s been a fantastic way to be more involved with IG and, again, a great way to make discoveries and new connections. I’ve made some amazing friends through those groups.
What is your involvement with Shooter Magazine?
Shootermag is a high quality printed publication that showcases the most amazing mobile photography. My role as Editor (UK) is primarily about supporting what Shootermag does, spreading the word, encouraging people to get involved and looking for artists for publication. I didn’t realize how amazing the magazine was until the first copy fell through my door. The publisher, Milos Kalvin, has created something very special and something he is extremely passionate about. I stumbled across the Shootermag feed on IG a couple of years ago while I was navigating tags and feeds. I was instantly drawn to it and became quite an active follower. I became a subscriber soon after. I guess Milos noticed my enthusiasm and started looking at my work. I was invited to be published in their 4th edition, which was totally mind-blowing. It’s the proudest moment of my mobile photography journey so far. A while after that he asked me to join his team.
A special USA edition was published recently, curated by the fabulous Nei Cruz. The feedback has been amazing. Rightly so! A UK version is planned for near future,. I’m very excited about that.
Is there any area of mobile photography you'd like to explore that you haven't yet tried?
I love street photography. I have dabbled with it but would love to do more. I just need to find the confidence to go out and do it without feeling like I‘m doing something wrong or that I look suspicious. There is one stand out street photographer for me - Luis Rodriguez (@luison_street). I just adore his work.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I’d like to say that I’m genuinely honored to have been asked to do this Geri. People like you who go that extra mile to provide huge inspiration, encouragement and motivation to people like me are a treasure.
Find Elaine: Instagram / Flickr / EyeEm / Twitter