Brendan O Se @ photographer from Cork, Ireland. Proud to be part of Apple’s iPhone World Gallery. Winner of Mira Mobile Prize 2015.
Well done on the recent successes, and increased exposure. Has this helped to open more doors for you in terms of future exhibitions? Is there anything / anywhere else you’d like to photograph?
Thanks, Simon. It has been a wonderful experience to be selected by Apple and to win a couple of competitions also. Having my image displayed on billboards, posters and on print magazines worldwide is such great exposure. This has resulted in publications like yourself wanting to feature my work. Thus far, online and print magazines in Germany, the UK, the US, Latvia, Hong Kong and China have showcased my work and from this there have also been licensing opportunities and sales of my images. I have also had some of my images in exhibitions in places like Florence, Lecce and Porto.
Looking to the future, I want to continue to work on some of the projects I have been developing over the past few years. What has been interesting me a lot lately is abstract photography and one of the projects I am working on is to put together a series of images called the “The pip-pop life span of worries”.
You mentioned being a frustrated painter / artist. Now you are achieving success and beauty in the images you are creating in photography, do you feel more positive about the value of photography within the wider realm of the various art mediums (painting, sketching, photography etc)?
The desire to be able to reproduce what I see or imagine with a brush, pen or pencil will never change. I have always been terribly envious of those who can, with such apparent ease, draw or paint. For me, photography is a substitute and in some of my photography I set up in camera to purposely achieve a painterly look, knowing I can later enhance this in the post-processing stage. Recently, a painter contacted me via Flickr asking if she could make a painting of one of my blurred images. Of course, I agreed, but I did feel a little envious.
I feel photography is a fully valid art form, and always has been. In today’s world, it probably is the medium, more than any other, which allows people to express their creativity. This is a very positive thing, I believe and the results are evident in some of the great work being produced in the world of photography.
The Reflections series look painterly, is this part of their appeal to you?
Yes. As I began to learn and experiment as a photographer I began to see differently. When I would have a selective focus in a shot, I saw that the blurred backgrounds of these images became more visible and beautiful to me and I wanted to create fully defocussed photographs. Ones which would accentuate form, fluidity and colour.
As a DSLR user and an iPhone 6 user, how big do you find the gap in quality is between the two ways of taking photos?
It definitely is narrowing and I believe the next iPhone will have even a better quality camera. The early releases up to iPhone 4 were not that great, but with the 4 you could see a noticeable jump in camera’s performance. Each camera has its pros and cons. The thing about the iPhone is that in each stage of the photographic process can be done on it; from shooting to editing to sharing.
Pros and cons of iPhones and DSLR’s?
A big consideration is the cost. Entry level DSLRs can be quite expensive when compared to buying a subsidised iPhone as part of a phone contract. Also, there is no comparison in the price of a desktop software package like Lightroom and an iPhone one like Snapseed.
The ease of use of the iPhone is a major advantage, but the thing I would point to from my own experience is that the iPhone has improved me as a photographer much more than the most expensive DSLR ever could. How? It is simple. I went from a situation of only taking a DSLR out on occasion to shoot, perhaps a few times a month, to one where I had a camera with me all the time. This resulted in those oft-lost photographic opportunites not being lost and from this I became much more sensitive and aware of photographic compositions. I would say that if someone is interested in learning as a photographer, then they should start with an iPhone. Get a few basic apps like Snapseed and Manual (which allows you to learn the basics of manual shooting) and find the things you are interested in and shoot them.
Do you find sometimes using the iphone can be a little less intrusive, and so help you to get images that might be harder to achieve with the more noticeable camera lens in front of someone?
Without doubt. At the start of the year, I bought a Fuji X100T for street photography because I felt its smaller, compact size would be better for the type of candid street photography I like. This has proven to be the case, but it still does not match the iPhone in terms of discretion. The iPhone 6 fits my hand perfectly. I can hold it in one hand in such a way that I can get in and close without being noticed. People are less guarded when they encounter an iPhone as opposed to a big DSLR.
Do you sometimes find yourself wanting to photograph too often – ie that challenge to sometimes just be in the moment, rather than wanting to always document it. This may not be something that applies to you in particular, but culturally in general we seem to be wanting to document (and share with others) a lot more of our daily life. Your thoughts on this?
This can be hard. On a recent trip to Porto, I was aware of this. I was at beach on the Atlantic coast. The sea was wild. The waves were crashing against the rocks shooting huges sprays of sea water up to sky. On first sight, I just instinctively got the iPhone out and started to shoot. I had come across a scene of a man sitting zen-like in front of a rock with the waves crashing against it and splashing him. It was some scene.
I didn’t join him to experience this moment, but instead started to shoot. Then I noticed there was a bar jutting out on to sea front and that I could get under this and shoot from there. I left the guy sitting by the rock and got under the bar. The waves crashing here were even more violent and spectacular. By now I had both cameras out and was shooting as much as I could. But soon it became apparent that this was not the safest of locations as the water rushed in towards me. Thinking of the safety of my cameras I made my back up to promenade.
Now, all I was concerned with was the photo opportunity. There was no thought to stop and take it in. But that is part of the moment. It is the adventure of photography and that is very much being in the moment. While I was shooting I was oblivious to everything else except for the scene. All other thoughts were momentarily lost. And that is beautiful.
Do we share too much? Of course.
— Brendan Ó Sé (@Fotopunctuation) June 13, 2015
Your favourite images? (If possible)?
Unquestionably the image chosen by Apple to be part of their World Gallery is special to me. I could never have imagined such exposure on a global scale and I cannot ever imagine having a photograph that will be seen by so many people in so many locations again.
This other photograph is one from the series of images I am working that has the working title of “The pip-pop life span of worries”. Being someone who does not neglect his worries, it reminds me of how easily I replace one worry with another and then I worry about how ridiculous that is and the cycle just continues.
The final image here is another shot on iPhone. This is my little girl, Sumi-Anna walking along the corridor in my workplace. I used intentional camera movement to blur her and give the image a painterly fell.
— Brendan Ó Sé (@Fotopunctuation) May 25, 2015
Most of your images are urban in their subject matter. Does this simply reflect where you are based, or a wider preference for urban landscapes too?
Street photography and people is what interests me most at the moment in photography. I am lucky that I get to travel quite a bit and there is nothing to beat the feeling of being on the street in a big world city. There are many other things can get my attention, but for now it is trying to capture that moment on the street which intrigues me most.
— Snapseed (@snapseed) July 7, 2014
What apps do you use for your photography? Which are most useful to you and why?
Snapseed @. I have downloaded a lot of photography apps over the years but the one I use most regularly is Snapseed. It recently got a long-overdue update and now is even better. It is a one-stop-shop app. Everything you want or need is available with Snapseed.
What future technology developments do you feel could continue to aid the development of your photography and photography in general?
I would like the ability to shoot RAW on iPhone and an improvement in battery life would be great too. I have been hearing that there will be great improvements in the camera in the next release of the iPhone and that is really exciting. Hopefully these will be included.
I love my new Fuji X100t, but still in comparison to a DSLR it is a little slow. I would like to see the speed of this camera improve. Also its battery life is awful. I had to buy three extra batteries for this camera and the thing that frustrates me even more is that it takes forever to recharge them.
You can find out more about Brendan here: