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Interviewed by Mobiography


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Interviewed by Mobiography, the best online magazine in the world dedicated to mobile photography.

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Interviewed by Mobiography

  1. 1. L uis Rodriguez aka @luison is an architect and prolific iPhone photographer from Madrid, Spain. In view of his profession, it’s no surprise that architecture is a common theme in his photographic work. Luis is influenced and inspired by the beauty of the buildings that surround him, as well as reflections and the characters in the streets that he walks. These are his subjects which he captures in a beautifully colorful and sometimes surreal way. I wanted to find out more about Luis and his approach to the photos he takes, in particular his puddlegrams which play a big part in his compositions. This is what he had to say. By Andy Butler with Luis Rodriguez Architecture & Puddlegrams S H A R E T H I S
  2. 2. Tell us a little about your photographic journey and how you were first introduced to iPhone photography. It was all a coincidence. I’m an architect and this world-wide crisis hit me hard about eight years ago. In 2010 I bought my first iPhone 3GS, and Instagram showed up a few months later. Instead of using my energy to look for a job, I started taking pictures with my iPhone and sharing them on Instagram. I soon got a big following and I was easily hooked on mobile photography. I think that architecture and photography are intimately related. Both are about light, space, proportions and human scale. Being an architect helped me to immediately fall in love with photography. I discovered that I could take a picture, edit it, and share it on social networks, all from the same device… and this device weighed very little – it was the one I was carrying around in my pocket. I not only fell in love with photography, but I fell in love with mobile photography – in my case, iPhoneography.
  3. 3. There’s a very clear style to your photography which can be grouped into architecture, puddlegrams/reflections, and street photography. What is it that inspires you about these three subjects? Well, as I said before, being an architect made it easy for me. I started taking pictures of buildings and streets, paying special attention to perspectives, lines and proportions. At the beginning, people used to tell me they could easily see the architect behind my pictures. One day, while wandering around my place, I looked down at the pavement and discovered the reflection of a well-known hotel in Madrid trapped in a puddle. At that moment I learnt that you can watch the world in a very different way from how we always see it. From that day on, I always find the world reflected in puddles, on glass façades, and on cars and bus windows. Very often I find this way of watching the world much more interesting than the direct and straight way our eyes usually see it. However, my interests developed into street photography. One of the good things about Instagram is that you get to know very interesting people and even become friends with them. I started following people whose street work is really amazing, and the architect that started taking pictures of urban settings with his iPhone became slowly but surely more interested in the human beings that live in those places. I started taking pictures of people. Each time I did so, I became bolder and got closer to the people. This initial interest in people has become a real and intimate passion for street photography. Old people, wrinkles, glances, hands, kisses, etc. are the main things that inspire me and what make me wander with my eyes wide open, ready to shoot.
  4. 4. What’s your favorite subject to photograph and why? Nowadays, what I like most is to capture people – the closer the better. But I don’t photograph random people. I only capture people that catch my eye – people that in less than a second, when I see them approaching, turn on a light inside of me for any particular reason. And above all, I love old people. I rarely take pictures of teenagers or cool people. Old people awaken in me a feeling of deep respect, of tenderness. I consider old people as survivors. They’re heroes to me. They’re much wiser than me, braver than me, they’ve all lived a much longer life than mine. I know I focus too much on old people, but I can’t help it. I find them much more interesting than any cool and hot woman, or a teenager listening to music, or a working man wearing a suit. So is including a human element in your photos, particularly your puddle shots, an essential consideration for you? I hardly ever take any picture without a human element in it. I’m an architect and, as an architect, I consider the human being the main reason for my work. Architects build houses for people to live in, hospitals for people to be healed in, concert halls for people to listen to music in, museums for people to see the artists’ work in. I could go on forever…
  5. 5. When I come to talk about photography, or mobile photography in my case, the same thing happens to me. People are what interest me most. For me, a picture without a human element is an empty picture. Besides, the human element always introduces a sense of scale in a photograph. We can understand how big, or how small, how far or how close things are if there’s a human element, a person, standing by it. So, when I take puddle shots, I always wait for someone to pass by and shoot. The same puddle shot, with a person in it, is much more interesting than the same shot without it. The human element completes the scene that I’ve chosen to photograph.
  6. 6. What apps do you use and is there a process or methodology that you apply to your post-production editing? I have different approaches for my reflection shots and my street shots. Reflections are always taken with the iPhone’s native camera. The editing process is usually very simple. I always use Snapseed to adjust the main parameters: light, ambiance, contrast, and sometimes shadows and saturation. That’s all. I’m not interested in hard editing. I never, or almost never, make double exposures or introduce elements that were not in the original picture. Hard editing, to me, is like using make up to turn something ugly into something beautiful, and I don’t like that. When it comes to my street photography, I normally use Hipstamatic because I prefer to shoot in black and white. I usually use the combination of Jane lens and BlacKey SuperGrain film when there’s not much light and shadow in the scene – that is to say, not much contrast. And I use JohnS lens and BlacKey SuperGrain film when there’s a lot of contrast. I then use Snapseed to crop the frame, which is something I don’t like very much.
  7. 7. Whenever the picture has distorted lines, or vertical lines that aren’t parallel, I use FrontView to correct them. Most people don’t find this an issue, but I do – it makes me nervous. I think this is because of my profession. How do you approach the composition of your photos? Are there any conscious decisions that you make in the planning of a photo? Well, it’s difficult to explain. I learnt about the rule of thirds, so that’s something I always try to respect in my pictures. But there’s something a bit more ambiguous, it’s more a feeling rather than a rule, and that’s the balance between void and not void, between heaviness and lightness. I sometimes crop a bit of my picture when I feel that there’s too much space on one side. Lines have to be straight, the horizon has to be horizontal. Again, these things, which may seem silly to other photographers, are very important to me. I must say that these corrections, when it comes to my street photography, come later when I post- process the picture.
  8. 8. When I shoot, I always pretend to look somewhere else. I look at the screen very quickly, frame the scene I want to shoot, and then turn my eyes away, so the pictures often don’t come out exactly as I’d imagined them. They need some correction. When I shoot reflections, I have enough time to compose the pictures. Fortunately, reflections don’t go away or get mad at me if I capture them, so I take my time to compose the picture just the way I want it to be. What advice would you give people who are looking to photograph architecture and puddlegrams? A good picture, whether it’s about architecture or any other theme, should always touch and move the spectator. Any building is like a person – it has a good side and a bad side, light can make it more beautiful or uglier, depending on the time of the day and the way you look at it. There are so many architectural photographs that my advice would be to look for new angles, new perspectives, news ways to photograph what has been photographed hundreds of times before. Try to understand what the building’s author wanted to express when designing the building, and then make it yours.
  9. 9. When it comes to puddlegrams, that’s very ambiguous to express. I always let people understand it is a reflection – that is to say, I don’t focus only on the reflected image, but also frame it in such a way that you can see the pavement, the edges of the puddle. Water, under certain conditions of light and cleanliness, is like a mirror. People shouldn’t shoot in a hurry. Don’t worry, a reflection will never go away. Instead, it will remain for a long time. You will see that just by moving your phone a little bit, the picture may change totally. Take your time. This isn’t street photography, where just a second will make the picture vary a lot. Move your phone, always look at the screen so that you can see the final picture and, above all, take lots of them. The best picture may not be the first, but the last one you shoot.
  10. 10. I believe you’re planning to work on a photographic project with your friend @daniparra_photo.Tell us about this project. When you turn a reflection-on-water picture upside down, everything in it stands vertically, like in the real world. But, when the water’s edges and the pavement start playing a main role in the picture, then you enter into a new dimension. It’s like magic. The sky suddenly turns into a stone sky, a tile sky. People aren’t completely seen because their bodies are cut off by the water’s edges, and so on. I met Dani thanks to Instagram. He’s a professional photographer who now shoots with his mobile phone. Like me, he loves puddlegrams and, above all, he loves to turn puddlegrams upside down. A reflection-on-water picture turned upside down has nothing to do with the same original photo. This small gesture completely changes the perception of the reflection. I haven’t held an exhibition for the past two years, and I must say I really feel like having a new one right now. So when Dani proposed we join forces and organize an exhibition together, only about puddlegrams, I immediately said yes. The idea is to show Madrid through upside down reflections on water. There’s a famous quote in Spain, “From Madrid to Heaven.” This gave us the idea for the exhibition’s title: “From Madrid to the Ground.” It’s just an idea for the moment. We’re currently looking for the proper place to exhibit our work. We’ve slightly announced it on Instagram but, as there’s no date or place, we don’t have much to say yet.
  11. 11. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learnt on your photographic journey? Well, I think the greatest lesson is that there’s always something new to learn, no matter how skilled you are, and that your best picture is always to be shot. This may seem obvious, but it’s the truth. I’m always learning new things, not only about photography or mobile photography, but also about my own photography. It’s interesting to see how my tastes vary, how what I liked some time ago I don’t like any more. I’ve learnt to be humble, to accept criticism. Photography, and mobile photography in my case, is art. Photography makes eternal the beauty of one moment, something that will never be repeated again. If I want to make art, I have to fall and stand up hundreds of times. Practice makes us better, so practice and shoot as much as you can. Connect with Luis Rodriguez | Instagram - luison | Instagram - luison_street Flickr | 500PX | Twitter | Facebook | Vimeo S H A R E T H I S
  12. 12. The Story Behind My Favorite Photos... This is one of my favorite pictures. It’s very dear to me. This is a reflection of the “Royal Academy of History” building, which stands about 20 meters from where I live in Madrid. It was shot at the beginning of 2012, with my old iPhone 4 or 4S (I can’t remember well). It’s an imperfect picture to me. Nowadays I wouldn’t saturate it that much, and I would probably straighten it a bit. But at that time I didn’t know that much, and this is just how it came out. Well, this picture was chosen by 500PX’s editors and can be seen among incredibly awesome pictures shot by the most expensive cameras and edited by the most complex software. It has been favorited over 1900 times and it has over 400 comments. Just a reflection picture shot on a mobile device… It was awarded with an Honourable Mention in the Mobile Photography Awards 2012.
  13. 13. This photo doesn’t represent my photography. It was shot in El Bierzo, a beautiful region in the north of Spain, during a blog trip I was invited to. I’ve chosen it because of what could have been, but never was… A couple of months before Apple launched its #ShotOniPhone6 campaign, I was contacted by an agency based in London representing Apple. I had to sign a “confidential contract” before I was told what it was about. Once I did so, I was told this image was in the selection process by Apple to be included in the upcoming worldwide #ShotOniPhone6 campaign. During the process, I was sent lots of questions to answer, and one of these questions was if I used other devices or cameras for my photography. Trying to be honest, I replied I had sometimes used the Samsung Galaxy Camera which Samsung gave me for a collaboration on a former campaign a couple of years before Apple’s campaign. Well, I mentioned Samsung and that was the end of it. You can’t imagine how often I’ve regretted being honest. If I’d thought about it for a second and never mentioned Samsung, my image would have probably been part of Apple’s campaign, I would have been given recognition, and I probably would have also been featured on the #ShotOniPhone6S campaign. Sigh…
  14. 14. This street photo could perfectly represent what street photography means to me, and how close I get to people to get a good shot with my iPhone. As usual, it’s a very quick shot I took while going to school to pick up my daughters. I saw this couple kissing, took out my iPhone, turned on the camera, crossed the road, approached, framed, shot and got away as quickly as I could – all in a matter of seconds. This photo was awarded at the FIPA (Florence International Photography Awards), organized by N.E.M. (New Era Museum) and was exhibited in Florence.
  15. 15. Video Placeholder Internet Connection Required In this short video Luis Rodriguez answers the question, “What does your work say about mobile photography?” which was posed by TheAppWhisperer. Here, Luis talks about his views on mobile photography and shares some useful tips for capturing photos with your smartphone. What DoesYour Work Say About Mobile Photography? Luis Rodriguez S H A R E T H I S