Glenn Homann is one of the very talented photographers who’s woks got him a winning place at the iPhone photography awards. Glenn shoots with his phone, in fear of missing the most important moment. This kind of passion and technique has allowed him to expand his body of work. Today Glenn shares with us his experience with the 2018 iPhone photography awards, his inspiration, work and thoughts on the future of mobile photography.
Glen Homann has an incredible eye for photography, and as you’re reading and scrolling, remember that all these are iPhone photographs.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your professional background and your hobbies.
I live in Ipswich, just outside of Brisbane, Australia. I am a storeman in a large plastics factory. I dabbled in many things when I was younger, including Architecture and Teaching at University, neither of which I completed. It was about this time that I realized I had quite a restless mind, and felt the creative pull of photography. I immersed myself in it for a while, mostly by reading and studying the work of others. I even combined it with my interest in astronomy, and started to capture images of the heavens. Then quite abruptly, life got in the way. My camera was also stolen at the same time. I set aside my photography adventures until the time was right. That time was when very adequate cameras showed up in an everyday device – our phones. I jumped back on the bandwagon with abandon, and haven’t looked back. There is perhaps a sense of making up for lost time.
Tell us the story of how you decided to participate in iPPAwards. How did you choose your images?
Part of my renewed photographic journey was a commitment to my new camera, which was the iPhone 4. I was well aware of the many technical limitations that I was to face, but also mindful of the endless opportunities that were arising with the flourishing App Store. Both editing and social apps were evolving at an amazing pace. I needed a way to slow things down and see through the noise. Luckily, competitions and websites had sprung up that acknowledged the amazing work coming out of mobile enthusiasts. The iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAWARDS) was one of the first. It started the same year as the first iPhone. They have always emphasized the spontaneous feel of iPhone imagery. I started to enter a few years ago, with some honorable mentions and have had a lucky run lately, with a first place in the Panorama Category, then a third in Others, and this years first in Abstract.
What is the story behind your winning image?
My winning image perfectly encapsulates my philosophy of iPhone photography. It is an image that came about solely because I had the camera in my pocket at the right time. It was taken at my workplace, which abounds with grungy textural elements of steel, plastic and paper products. It was simply a matter of seeing something interesting and capturing the image.
How would you describe your style and approach to photography?
Although the iPhone lends itself to this very spontaneous approach, I have evolved to give myself time to explore and put myself in situations that suit my photographic eye. This might be a dawn drive in the country looking for old sheds. Or exploring an industrial estate looking for simple, colorful architectural details. Street photography is a challenge I always enjoy. My approach is to keep exploring and testing the limits of my camera, and of my imagination and skills. Trying to keep things moving and don’t stay still for too long.
If you had a choice between your iPhone or a DSLR, which would you choose? Are you selective about your tool based on the situation?
I shoot exclusively with my phone. I recently won a great DSLR, ironically, by winning the Mobile Category at the Australian Photography Awards. I have tried to incorporate it into my work but always come back to the phone. I have become so accustomed to the quick and easy style of shooting. As mentioned, I like to spend more time putting myself in front of interesting things and places, rather than hauling around a large camera and lenses. I enjoy both the challenge and simplicity of creating compelling images with the limitations of a phone.
Could you share a bit more about your personal photography projects? What themes and ideas are you currently exploring?
My current and somewhat recurring theme is authenticity. I have had the good fortune to meet some lovely and authentic people on my travels in the country recently. I have planned to return and spend some quality time with them and perhaps document their daily routines. At the very least this could provide them with some poignant images. Ultimately, the hope is that perhaps a book could be produced that could pay tribute to their amazing lives.
What are some things that you’ve noticed that have helped you grow as a photographer?
Another great asset of shooting with my phone is the sheer quantity of images that I can take and keep with me at all times. In my efforts to improve I have allowed myself to take as many photos as possible. I can sometimes take tens or even hundreds of images of even the most innocuous of subjects. This has allowed me to appreciate the many ways any particular subject can be seen and recorded. I study the images and try and understand how and why certain approaches are more successful. I don’t need to take as many images these days, but my favorite thing is to spend time to get to know what I’m photographing as intimately as possible.
Do you think iPhone photography is an art of its own? What are some limitations with your phone, if any?
I do like the fact that iPhone and mobile photography is still somewhat separated from other photography. I think that some people still can’t see past the limitations of the device, and more importantly the resulting images. Often the output of images is less than perfect. Close scrutiny might reveal noisy areas or a lack of sharpness and definition. I feel that images taken with a mobile device, and any camera for that matter are on an “as is” basis. The idiosyncrasies of the device define the image and the way it is used.
Who were your biggest influences, where do you seek inspiration and what are the 3 things inspiring your work right now?
Like others, I have been influenced by the many facets of the visual arts. Even my early studies of Architecture have informed my aesthetic choices towards classic shapes, simple colors and a minimal approach at times. The 1930’s and 40’s in particular and the work of Alvar Alto. Many great painters and their works have helped to shape my visual style. From John Constable in the late 1700’s and his evocative, realistic landscapes, to the precisionist and playful urban landscapes of Australian Jeffrey Smart, painted mainly in the 1960’s and 70’s. Ansel Adams’ dedication to his craft has inspired many a photographer, myself included.
Currently, I find that Instagram is hard to go past, when I’m looking for exciting work. I tend to follow a good mix of people, especially those that produce work that I might find challenging.
What are your thoughts on mobile photography in general? Where are things heading?
Mobile photography has reached a very interesting point in its development. There is very much a love/hate relationship with photographers and consumers alike. Famed film director, Wim Wenders, recent comments blaming mobile photography for the death of photography in general, highlight that philosophical and psychological battle. A new term has arisen, “fauxtography”, summing up the idea that although an almost inconceivable number photos are taken and shared everyday, nobody is really looking at them.
As mentioned, I am glad that there are those that look beyond the fauxtography and see the positive aspects of the mobile culture on photography as a whole. Especially those that take the time to hold competitions, or run websites and blogs that elevate the works of dedicated creatives.
What did winning in IPPAwards mean to you? What are your thoughts now that you’re part of the history?
Winning a Category at the IPPAWARDS, is a huge thrill. I see photography as a journey. I chose the iPhone as my camera of choice for many reasons, but primarily because of its accessibility. It would always be with me. I could immerse myself and avoid the excuse of missing a shot because of not having a camera with me. Entering competitions – mobile in particular, is one of the few yardsticks of progress. Recent successes have reassured me that hopefully, I’m moving forward. A look through the winning images through the years at the IPPAWARDS site shows how far this movement has come. I’d like to think I can continue to contribute to its future in some small way.
To see more works by Glenn Homann, follow his Instagram account and keep up with his incredible series of works.
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