Tips from a Pro: Iconic iPhone Self-Portraits

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By JOBY Inc on

This month on the JOBY Blog, we’re all about iPhoneography. We think phonography is totally rad—three cheers for creative expression on the go! Plus, nothing beats a lightweight and decent camera that you always have with you.  We put our heads together with some other phone photography experts to bring you tips and tricks, awesome apps, video tutorials, and maybe even a contest or two. Stay tuned!

JOBY Pro Team Member photographer/videographer Martin Reisch (aka *safesolvent) has been a GorillaPod-enthusiast for several years and is one of our biggest fans. Armed with a GorillaMobile for iPhone 4/4s, his unique iPhone self-portraits have become quite iconic. Recently, he was featured on the Instagram Blog and we cannot deny that he’s taking the digital photo world by storm.

Though Martin is Montreal-based, he has been traveling all over the US and Canada on a variety of photo and video projects. We’ve been following his travels on Instagram (@safesolvent) and Twitter and we caught up with him to chat about his unique approach to photography. To take part in iPhone Photo Month here at JOBY, he recorded video tutorials that illustrate how he uses the GorillaMobile for iPhone 4/4s in his iPhoneography.

How has the GorillaPod changed the way you shoot with your iPhone?

The GorillaPod has changed the way I shoot in so many ways it’s hard to really put it into a single context. It’s like the first time you take your camera off automatic mode and realize that you can trick it into exposing for one area and then shooting another. Gorillapod essentially removes the “I have to be holding it” part of the photo equation and yet adds this “ceilings and fences can be surfaces too” element. In fact, most of the time, I’m actually putting equal amounts of effort into finding interesting places to shoot as well as finding a place to put my Gorillapod. I’ll often see a potential spot that I can hang or grip my Gorillapod onto and THEN see what it gives through the camera. For most photographers, it is usually the other way around. It certainly opens up a lot of opportunity for uniqueness in my photography.

What is your best usage tip for the GorillaPod?

It’s maybe not the best tip, but certainly something I’ve learned from using it over the years (wow, it really has been a while I’ve been using em!).I’ve noticed that often you only need two legs to grip, you can use the third one to sort of give the stability by bending it into an angle and having the foot rest/push off to counter-stabilize.

 

 Aside from the GorillaPod, what are your favorite apps or tools for iPhone photography?

Clearly I’m a fan of Instagram, but i don’t consider it a tool because for me it’s more of a platform to share. I’m a huge fan of @taptaptap’s Camera+. It’s essentially the first thing I open when I’m shooting and also often the only app I use to edit. I have started to play with the Slow Shutter app for nighttime shooting and iI’m very impressed by Photoforge 2 app for masking and heavy duty, complex edits. But for the most part, I like a clean image with a bit of contrast boost and a little cross process filter both of which can be done in Camera+.

Your locations are always breathtaking. How do you find the locations for your photography? What location inspires you most?

I’ll be honest, it’s not usually THE location or A location that inspires; it’s really a combination of the music on my iPhone while I’m wandering around, the light and architecture of a place, and whether or not I’m in a rush. Actually, the time factor doesn’t change anything. If i’m in a rush, I’ll USUALLY be late because for some reason that’s always when all the other factors come in to play and just blow me away, like a lensflare from the sun hitting a building and reflecting onto the ground. People have started to comment that “*safe solvent™ time” is 15-20 minutes behind reality.


 I know I get camera-shy when I’m shooting in public places. What is your advice for the aspiring self-portrait photographer?

It’s the same advice I always receive when I tell people I can’t dance … Pretend like nobody is looking and nobody care. Though I still don’t take that advice in regards to dancing, I often pretend like nobody is around when I’m taking my self-portraits because I know how being self-consciousness affects the final shot. You can tell—even on a small iPhone screen—if someone is not in the moment.

We’ve noticed that in most of your portraits, you’re wearing headphones. What are you listening to when you shoot?

I can’t deny how big of a Ghostly  and Moodgadget fan I am. During the last year or two, I’ve been listening to A LOT of their releases and even had the chance to meet and work with a few of them. The best part is they are almost all also on Instagram! I really like including the music that I was listening to while shooting in my photo tag. For me, it’s as important as the GPS / Foursquare check-in data. When people look at my photos, they always ask, “Where the hell was that?”.  And the follow up question is usually, “What were you listening to?”.  Actually. the REAL number one question is,  “Aren’t you worried someone will steal your iPhone/Camera while you shoot those super far away self portraits?” I’ll save that answer for another time!

To view more of Martin’s photo and video work, visit his website. And be sure to follow @safesolvent on Instagram!

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