Janine Graf is a photographer based in the United States. She has won over the attention of her admirers with her extravagant iPhone images, an amalgam of ordinary and surreal elements, sprinkled with a good dose of impertinent facetiousness.
Like many other converts to mobile photography, Janine’s interest in iPhone photography was triggered by practical reasons. “I started shooting and editing with my iPhone in 2010. I was tired of lugging my monster DSLR around and eventually I started to consistently leave it at home; what’s the point in that?” She recalls an episode in particular, which she sees as a sort of turning point, “One day my family and I were at a koi store and I wanted to take a picture of the baby koi fish we had just purchased. Not having my ‘real’ camera, I took a picture of it with the Hipstamatic. I couldn’t believe how beautiful that picture actually was. It was shortly thereafter that I made the conscious decision to solely use the iPhone for image taking. Serious processing came a bit later.”
Janine describes how her way of shooting and editing photos has gradually changed, from her initial eagerness to just try out new fancy effects to a more calculated process, “I confess that in the beginning I thought just slapping a grunge filter on any ol’ composition would make it ‘cool’. Nope, not so much. It was a semi-slow process and learning journey to where I am right now with how I process an image,” but she admits, “Isn’t that all part of the fun?!”
When shooting and collecting material for new works, careful planning or just following a sudden whim depends on the subject and on the final effects Janine is after. “With the current rhinoceros series I’m working on, I am definitely very aware of what scenes I would like to place her in and have my eye open with her in mind. I was recently in New York to attend The Mobile Photo Awards opening gallery event and even before I left Seattle I was plotting certain New York scenes I wanted to place the rhino into,” she says, but she immediately adds, “Then there are times when I do like to fly by the seat of my pants and simply capture whatever happens to catch my eye while out and about.”
Janine Graf’s app arsenal is limited if compared to that of other iPhoneographers. Janine mentions a handful of apps she is particularly fond of. “I don’t use a whole lot of apps to be honest; I have maybe 30 on my iPhone right now. Of those my favorite go-to apps are ScratchCam, Juxtaposer and Snapseed.” The reasons for using each app are pretty much related to their distinctive features. “I think ScratchCam has the best selection of color filters; particularly their monochromes. With their last update they gave us the ability to stamp a filter or texture that can then be layered upon (before we would have to save the image and then bring it back into the app if we wanted to layer); I love that feature! The slide adjuster is really fantastic as well. I am definitely a ScratchCam junkie!” And she continues, “For layering images I always use Juxtaposer. The user interface is super friendly and I love the amount of control I have when erasing with that app. I do wish, however, that in a future update Juxtaposer will include a transparency feature. That would make it absolutely perfect. Last, but not least, is the total package known as Snapseed. I love the amount of fine tuning and control Snapseed offers. I find myself using Snapseed a lot for brightening or contrast tweaking.”
Janine’s style complements her unpredictable spirit, hopping on and off concepts we usually take for granted: she turns urban landscapes into absurd playgrounds and rural sceneries into carnivalesque shows populated by curious intruders. Her desire to arrest viewers by putting a smile on their face is as exuberant as her crazy pictures. As she explains, “I really hope that my images make people happy. I’m a total goofball by nature and I think that shows in my whimsical themed compositions,” and she continues, “Whenever someone tells me that an image of mine made them smile, or better yet, laugh, it absolutely makes my day! Life’s too short, or rather, too long, to be so serious.”
Differently from a number of mobile photographers, Janine is still into other customs for capturing all the aspects of reality she deems interesting. “In the springtime, when the tulips are blooming, I will most definitely be out there with my DSLR and macro lens taking pictures. I loves me some good floral bokeh!” As for different forms of artistic expression, she cannot deny her love for painting. “I’m thinking that one of these days I’ll get back into oil painting. I grew up with a mother who taught oil painting classes and my brother and I would go to class with her and paint. I still have some of the paintings I did when I was seven years old. I did one of a collie (our dog at the time) and I look at that painting now and wonder how on earth a seven year old painted that; the colors in the fur nicely blended.” Afterwards, she quickly admits, “I’m probably missing my calling as a painter, but that’s ok because photography is my first love.”
When I ask her what does she think of photographers still denying the influence of iPhone photography and relegating mobile cameras’ capabilities to the realm of casual shooting, she replies, “Are there still people who assume that? Golly, I would like to think we’ve dispelled that misconception by now.” Unfortunately yes, there are. And you can find them all over the place, even among regular mobile camera users. “I would point any naysayer in the direction of the many wonderful photo sharing sites (Flickr or IPA for example) so they could see for themselves that mobile photography goes well beyond the simple snapshot.” Janine’s opinion on the merits of mobile photography is very clear. “These days mobile artists are making images that can rival those taken with expensive DSLR cameras and fancy desktop editing software. With the thanks to our technology becoming more advanced, we are well beyond simple snapshots of our lunch and painted fingernails.”
If it’s true that there are still skeptical people around, on the other hand many more are discovering mobile cameras for their actual advantages in terms of flexibility and creative possibilities. “I would suggest to people starting out to simply have fun and not worry about comparing yourself to anyone else and what they’re doing. Find some artists whose style moves you and take inspiration from them. There is so much amazing crazy talent out there to pull inspiration from.”
Janine Graf finally invites new and experienced iPhone artists to stick together and support one another by sharing their knowledge for the benefit of everybody. “There are a lot of great tutorials out there to help get one started; The App Whisperer website in particular has a plethora of great tutorials by really talented artists.” And she concludes, “We are a really friendly and supportive community, so if someone has questions they shouldn’t hesitate to ask. Many artists don’t mind sharing advice and tips; I know I certainly don’t mind.”
All images courtesy of Janine Graf.