The Brilliant Vision of iPhoneographer Bob Loewen
“Images.Dawn to duskMany stars, one sunThe Seen and the UnseenSubtle to off-the-charts WOWAt times I don’t see, see enough, see at allDeep, wide troughs between waves of creativitySometimes I see so much I put my camera downGaze. Listen. Touch. Feel. Enjoy.I pick up my camera, take it homeRelease the captured imagesBurning. Dodging.Playing. Sharing.Images.”…
1. Tell us a little about yourself and the role that art has taken in your life.
I’m a native Oregonian, have lived here all my life, from large urban centers (Portland), to small urban areas (Corvallis – now), the coast and Central Oregon. I spent much of my early years visiting the Oregon Coast, vacationing with my family. I started taking photos in my backyard, building a bird blind out of cardboard boxes and taking photos with a Kodak Hawkeye Instamatic.
Eventually, I began using a variety of 35mm cameras, moving into digital in 2005. Now, I still have a couple of “big-boy” cameras, Nikons, but also a Lumix point-and-shoot, a Canon G15 converted to infrared, and my iPhone.
Art is what keeps me going. I love sharing what I do with others and teaching others occasionally. Just going out and making images, getting lost in the moment for hours at a time, like I used to do in the darkroom.
2. Describe the first moment you realized that creating art was something you wanted/needed to do.
I tell people I was a photographer in the womb, emerging with a desire to create as a way of showing my independence (apparently, I was independent from day one). The artist came later, much later I think. It wasn’t until taking a photo workshop (see answer to question 3) that I began thinking of myself as an artist, that was only five years ago. Rikki Cooke talked about “Art in your life.” That is when I began to feel that what I do, my processes, are truly artful.
3. What is iPhoneography and how did you discover this medium?
I first learned about iPhoneography while taking a photography workshop “Rekindling the Creative Spirit” at the Hui Ho’olana (the Hui), on Molokai in 2009 (www.huiho.org). I must admit that I was not interested and skipped the sessions. When I returned to do another workshop in 2011, I was becoming more interested, but to me it just wasn’t “real” photography. Then I really paid attention to what others were creating and was amazed. That summer, I bought my iPhone, perhaps one the best purchases I’ve made. Hey, it’s a phone, a camera, flashlight, compass, alarm clock and so much more. My ringtone is “Kodachrome” by Simon and Garfunkel. iPhoneography is creating images with an iPhone alone, or by adding apps (software programs), and/or downloading to a computer and adding more creative touches to your photos.
4. What do you look for when choosing subject matter?
I’m looking for something that not only captures my eye, but also speaks to me to the point where I can take and make an image in the creative process. There is an app called Slowshutter, which recreates a slow shutter speed of a camera. Sometimes I see an image that one would not normally think of as a subject for a slow shutter (flowers, for example), and see the potential in front of me. I can take a shot, play with the image, and create a stunning piece of artwork immediately. Too cool.
5. What artist or artists inspired/inspire you?
In the beginning of my photo image making, my father and Oregon landscape photographer Ray Atkeson were my inspirations. With regards to iPhoneography, there are several and many all at the same time: Dewitt Jones, Theresa Airey, Rikki Cooke, and Lynette Sheppard got me started and keep me going. They are all amazingly talented artists. The many others are the artist/photographers from the workshops at the Hui. I have also taken Creative Photography for the Soul from Jack Davis and Dewitt Jones at the Hui. Besides the workshops, the Hui’s Facebook page is sharing of images that are over-the-top wonderful.
6. What is the best advice you have received with regards to creativity and what words of wisdom could you offer an aspiring artist?
Slow down, from Rikki Cooke. I still struggle with that. I get excited about creating an image and a way I go. Later, when I do slow down, I often realize that I was missing something. I’ve gotten better, and make fewer, better images than before, but it’s still a struggle. Words of wisdom? Be true to yourself. Create what is pleasing to you. What is your passion? Got more than one? Then create with them all. Don’t give up – give in to who you are.
7. Artists usually have their own unique approach to creating, what would you say is yours? (i.e. methods, routines etc) How has it changed from when you first began?
My approach has changed, for sure. Before, I’d just jump right into a landscape, a flower, whatever I perceived as my subject. Now I look first, and shoot second and shoot again. Often now, before I shoot, I have at least some pre-visualization of what I want to do. However, the best art often comes as a surprise: “Where did that come from?!”
8. What are some of your goals as an artist?
Primarily, I want to explore more of what I feel, and reflect those feelings in my art. Open my eyes, ears, mind and heart, and just let go – a difficult thing for me do, but necessary. Additionally, make more time to create. Day-to-day life is important, but there is more, much more.
9. Tell us about your current works in progress.
I have just begun to experiment shooting with a Canon G15 that has been converted to infrared. It is another creative photo technique I learned about while at the Hui. While there likely will be some color in some of my final images, my intention, for now, is to create black & white infrared images. I recently spent a couple of days at Shore Acres State Park (Oregon Coast) where there is an incredible garden. The great thing about infrared is that the best time to shoot (noon) is typically not the best time of day for “regular” photography, so you can keep on creating all day long.
10. Where can we find your work? (Links, galleries etc)
I would like to thank Bob for taking time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts with us. Please take a moment to check out his links, not to mention his wonderful work.