Wayne Greer is an iPhone photographer with a strong sense of places and a deep fascination for the landscape. Mobile photography is a relatively new discovery for him, but even without any photographic background, Greer’s work is rich, eye-catching and has the power to immediately draw the viewer in. “I bought my first iPhone last October,” Greer tells us, “Other than a few snapshots here and there, I really didn’t start using apps to edit photos until March of this year.” When he’s asked how his interest in mobile photography started, he simply replies, “Just by chance, I came across some photos by Gianluca Ricoveri. I was really taken with how beautiful they were and amazed that they were done with an iPhone.”
Like Ricoveri’s work, which we have covered earlier this year, Wayne Greer’s images are a tribute to the timeless beauty of nature, the kind of nature however that is closest to man’s heart. The picturesque American countryside depicted in his photos breathes gusts of fresh, peaceful life into the eye of the spectator and it’s for the photographer endless source of inspiration. Prairies, hills and water’s edges, garlanded with winding gravel paths or crowned with flowers and trees, the cloudy sky overhead, are some of Wayne’s recurring subjects.
The inextinguishable grace of the natural world is actually not only a gratification for the eye, but also a tremendous motivation for the photographer and an outlet for his emotional side. It is also a privileged channel to get in touch with many kindred spirits. “I’ve always loved landscape photography and paintings, so I thought I’d give it a try, even though I have no background in art or photography. Since then, I’ve been learning and working to improve,” says Greer, “I’ve discovered many other great photographers, including those doing landscapes, which I’ve drawn inspiration from. Some have given great advice that I have really appreciated.”
Even though Greer denies having previous specific training, his exposure to a familiar artistic environment and his love for outdoor work are distinct influences in his current style. “As I said, I have no art background, although my mom and my brother are artists. My creative outlet was always landscaping. I loved working with stone and I think this taught me something about composition and texture”. When working with the object of creating beautiful environments ceased to be an option, it was the environment’s turn to offer its treasures as subject matter. “I used to enjoy landscaping, but health issues now prevent me from doing much of that. It’s easier on the body to roam the countryside looking for subjects to shoot than for boulders.”
Greer’s photos are a glimpse into a limpid past. The peace and quiet of charming places, the blissful hours spent wandering about, a vague nostalgia, are some of the themes evoked by his warm and painterly images. “Many of the places that I shoot are ones that I played in and explored as a kid,” Wayne explains. As he says, viewers can happily adopt the same romantic vision or experience the pictures differently. “Of course everyone will feel something a little different, but I hope that they feel something.” As a creator of images, Greer’s purpose is not to impose an absolute ideal of beauty upon others, but rather to engage them on a broader emotive level. “If I can paraphrase another photographer, Chris Harland (aka Grangefirth), ‘our photographs aim to be about something, not just of something.’ Different landscapes, seasons and weather have always had some emotional impact on me. My goal is to convey that to the viewer, not simply to create something pretty.”
Wayne Greer’s way of taking photos does not depend strictly on prearranged plans. He leaves much of his motivation to a variable combination of momentous shooting conditions and inspiring discoveries. “Recently I have made a couple of short day trips specifically to shoot. Mostly though, I will just happen upon a scene that I like. The success depends on the right conditions,” he explains.
Despite his being an eager user, Wayne go-to apps are not many. His iPhone photo arsenal comes with a bit of everything for shooting and editing, in very reasonable amounts. “I use 645 Pro for most of my photos and I just started experimenting with Hipstamatic,” he says. “For basic editing I use Snapseed and Handy Photo and I really like Mextures. The combinations of tones and textures seem endless.” He mentions a few other apps, which he mainly uses during post-processing for achieving the right look for his images and for various tonal and textural effects. “I like Modern Grunge and Photo FX. I also often use Image Blender. I like to overlay different versions of the same image to finish or fine tune a photo. I used to use Laminar Pro quite a bit and was sorry to see it go away with IOS 7. Maybe we’ll see it again.”
Differently from other iPhone photographers who either moved from other cameras to the iPhone or from the iPhone to other cameras, Wayne’s adherence to his device of choice is complete, at least for the present. Feeling comfortable within the boundaries of a medium means, in cases like his, more energy to devote to creating. “The iPhone is all I currently use. I really don’t feel the need to ‘move up’ to other cameras,” he affirms.
Wayne’s positive outlook and experience with iPhone photography is not only rooted in personal circumstances. In spite of its detractors, his idea is that mobile liberated the medium and brought it closer to everybody, even to the casual shooters, giving them means to grow accustomed to the creative act. As he puts it, “I really don’t see too many downsides with mobile photography. It’s really made photography more accessible. I’m a good example of that.” Even though he considers them secondary, Greer is conscious of the downsides of mobile photography as well. “If there is a negative, I suppose it’s the perception among some people that you can just slap on a filter and tap on an app and presto! you have an awesome photo!” The downsides are thus more about misconceptions people have of a fast, user-friendly medium than about photography applied to mobile per se.
In any case, the few negative sides can be minimized, and Wayne’s answer is, as it usually happens, constant practice. “Go out and shoot. Find a subject matter that means something to you and moves you in some way. Take a look around Flickr and mobile photography blogs to see what is possible. There are a lot of amazing photographers in any style that you can imagine. Do a little research if you are a beginner (like I was) on some photography fundamentals and on Apps that good photographers use.”
Beginners starting today may have it tough at first, but the effort will eventually pay off. “It’s easy to get bogged down in all the technical aspects of all the different apps available. It can be intimidating, but don’t let that stop you from getting started. Remember that any camera is an expressive tool. Start with something that moves you and all of the other geeky stuff will follow.”
All photos courtesy of Wayne Greer.