Finding the Extraordinary

Finding the Extraordinary

About Me

My name is Emily Chen. I live and work in Sydney, Australia.
I document Sydney through my commute & here is my story.

My Story

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a camera of some sort. My first attempt at street photography was the year Instagram was launched… I started to document my journey to work, sharing photos on Instagram, connecting with other street togs; and later, on various other platforms.

When I first started to document my commute, it was all about the commuters on the bus or the train. Close up shots with an aim to capture their emotions. Candid photography is so fascinating to me, even today. I’ve rarely been “seen” shooting during my commute. The commuters are in their own zones. More often than not, completely oblivious of what’s around them.


Thoughtful lady – black and white

Later on, I ventured onto the streets to find interesting light & shadows…and explore the streets I walk through everyday during my commute. And noticed the light spots, shapes of office buildings and reflecting of light off the glass windows. I started to learn the minor details by visiting the same grounds, and wait for the subjects to walk across my frame.

Piano Steps – Black and white

Commuting is my favourite part of the day. And to me, the morning and late afternoon light are so glorious. I chase light, as I chase my bus & train: not because my alarm clock didn’t go off, but because I too often stop to capture the everyday sublime & time slips by!

One Third Rule – Colour

It’s a rich source of inspiration and a precious time. Finding moments in the morning and evening lights that tell stories, images with shadow play, to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary.

All directions

Visiting the same places, quite often the same faces, the light at the same time each morning and in the evening – finding that special moment to tell the stories of the Sydney commuters.

People of Tomorrow’s Sydney


Circles of life – Black and white

Rainy Morning – Black and White

Night walk

A learning journey

Chasing light, stretching the under exposure and leveraging the familiarity of the surrounding. Light is the most important element. I study the light and memorize how and where it falls, just about every morning and evening during my commute. I experiment with both colour as well as black & white and am learning that both are as challenging as each other. I cannot imagine ever getting bored of this and will continue to shoot and look for those details to document my city.


You can see more of Emily’s work on InstagramEyeEm, and Flickr.

Polaroid Swing: Not Just Another App

Polaroid Swing: Not Just Another App

You’ve heard it before: “omigosh you have to check out this new app, it’s so cool!” So you install it, but within a week, it’s just wasting precious megabytes, sitting unused on your iPhone.

With this in mind, I was a bit skeptical about trying out Polaroid Swing; I’m already an avid Instagram/ Snapchat user and I wasn’t looking for another distraction or creative outlet to take up my time. However, after a week of trying out the app, I’ve been won over.

by @postaljeff

To call it a photo sharing app is a bit of a misnomer, because in reality what you are sharing is something like a one second GIF, which then has an added dimension of interaction to it. That added dimension is this: when you tilt your device, or swipe across the screen, you see the GIF move or come alive, in a way. It’s ideally experienced on a mobile device, but for those viewing this on a regular computer, you can swipe your cursor across the image to get the effect. Go ahead, try it on some of the examples shown in this article.

by @jps

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with some of the folks behind the app, and there were several things in our conversation that stood out to me.

For one, the very birth of the idea started with a different process than most. Rather than starting with a concept, such as coming up with ‘the next Instagram’ or some similar theory, co-founders Tommy and Freds’ vision was focused on the Polaroid brand, and what it might look like were it to have continued its legacy of innovation into the modern age. The result was this app, which captures the same ‘instant’ magic of its namesake, while adding an element of hands-on interaction. In some ways, when you’re holding your device in your hand and seeing the photo move, you’re actually emulating the emotion produced when a piece of Polaroid film comes out of a physical camera and develops before your eyes. It’s like seeing a Polaroid come to life: a kind of before and after.

by @parkerj

The second thing that I was impressed by was the preparation behind the product. As an example, they had two hundred hand-selected beta testers spend an entire year working on developing and polishing the end result. One of those people is Cole Rise, who was influential in Instagram’s beginning stages. The two guys behind the app are no slouches either. Co-founder Tommy worked for Barack Obama on his first presidential campaign, and both he and his partner Fred have extensive business experience while holding degrees from the London School of Economics. These two aren’t just a couple of friends working out of someone’s garage; they know what they’re doing.

by @colerise

I should probably talk a little bit about what I love about the actual app, as well. Visually, the design is sleek and extremely appealing. Each creation is meant to look like a classic Polaroid photo, with the easily recognizable white rectangular border. On my iPhone 6, the feed runs super smoothly and the image quality is amazing: it’s sometimes hard to believe that these one-second images were all created on iPhones. Enabling a high frame-per-second ability was one of the primary goals when creating the app. And for those of you who are wondering, yes, the app will soon support Android devices.

by @lola
I’m also a big fan of the simplicity of the app: everything is done in-app (i.e. no uploading fancy DSLR videos), with just a handful of filters to choose from and a 48 character caption limit (make them count!). For me, the allure of this simplicity is that it really encourages me to be creative within the simple confines of capturing a moment. Photographers may be used to framing a scene in their mind’s eye, but framing a one second video scene becomes a completely different adventure.

by @molly
Currently users are only able to ‘swipe’ or ‘like’ someone’s Swing, but plans to add the ability to comment will very likely roll out in the future. If there’s one thing I’d love to see more of on the app, it would be the ability to interact and be social with other users. Given the attention to detail and user input that they have demonstrated thus far, I’m confident that it’s only a matter of time before these things become part of the app. So, let me just say: omigosh you have to check out this new app, it’s so cool!

You can find Polaroid Swing on the App Store.

Keep it Simple: an interview with Nei Cruz

Keep it Simple: an interview with Nei Cruz


Nei Cruz is not only a talented photographer: when talking of Nei it is impossible to leave out his generosity in supporting the community of Instagram photographers. Nei is a rare case, quite possibly unique on the web, where his generous qualities are probably more known than his photographic skills.

We have asked him to talk a bit of himself with us.

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I’m not good at talking about myself, so here’s a profile written about me by my friend Ruth Efrati Epstein for Shootermag:
“Nei Cruz has a passion for style and beauty in both his career and personal life. He brings this style to his mobile photography. Nei was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He graduated with a degree in Art Direction from the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. Desiring to perfect his craft, Nei moved to the United States 30 years ago. He has worked with several world-renowned photographers and his work has been featured and published in a wide range of editorial magazines, including Vogue, Allure, W, WWD, Elle, L’Uomo Vogue, Cosmo Girl, Lucky, Surface and Essence.
It wasn’t until Nei got his first iPhone that he began to experiment with mobile photography. The arrival of Instagram turned his dabbling with iPhone photography into a passion.
He is as committed to the mobile-photography communities as he is to his photography. Nei is an extremely passionate supporter of many photographers. Many lasting relationships among mobile photographers have begun with an introduction from Nei.
In 2014, Nei became the Editor At Large for Shooter Magazine.
Nei resides in Manhattan, New York City, and continues to work in the fashion industry.”
By Ruth Efrati Epstein @80degrees

Processed with VSCOcam with s6 preset

Did you study photography at college?

No. I studied Art Direction. However, I’ve worked with amazing photographers all my life.

What inspired you to start shooting and when?

I’ve always loved photography, but I always stayed in the background, art directing, until I got my first iPhone.

When did you decide to use just the iPhone for your photography?

Right after I got my very first iPhone. It was when the iPhone came out. To be able to catch a moment and edit the image all in one device was such a genius idea. I specially started taking more pictures when I joined Instagram.

When did you join Instagram and what does the community mean to you?

I joined Instagram during September, 2010.
I used to delete images as I uploaded new ones. It was completely different than what it is today. There was a wonderful sense of community and you could talk and like images with no limits. No blocking. I miss that time, but I understand that all things change, and we must adapt. It’s a business now. Ever since these changes have been implemented, I lose followers with each post I make, no matter how good an image is, or how good the content is of what’s being posted. But I keep coming back, because of the community. I have made so many wonderful friends. They’re so loyal, encouraging and supportive. Some, I’ve even been able to meet in person. It’s all about the people. It’s also my way of escaping reality. The best thing is to see the world, people and things through someone else’s eyes.


Which camera apps do you use to take photos on the iPhone?

I mostly use the native camera and native tools. I keep it simple.

Which apps do you prefer for editing?

I avoid over editing. If I use a filter, it’s mostly VSCO at the lowest percentage.
I also use Snapseed selective adjusting and sometimes FilterStorm. Again, I try to keep it simple.


Is editing a long process for you?

Not really. It depends on the image, feel and mood I want to create. Besides, I have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), and no patience to spend too much time on an image.
However, I do spend a lot of time on cropping and aligning. If the image will work, I know it right away.  And I usually take one single shot per subject.


Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

I was very surprised to read you use only iPhone even when you work. I’m thinking about a few gorgeous images on your Instagram account taken for a fashion editorial. How was the staff and the model’s reaction when you started shooting with a mobile rather than a professional DLSR ?

At first they are surprised and skeptical. But when I show the image after post production, which I do on my own iPhone, they’re happy and impressed.


In more than one occasion you have mentioned both on your Instagram and Facebook account, of your depression: it seems to be an issue you have been fighting for a long time. Nevertheless, there isn’t any sign of melancholy or sadness in your images, and this condition apparently does not affect your photography, as your images are so full of life and in bright colours.. Has photography been of some help in coping with your depression ?

Absolutely! It’s a wonderful way to get my mind out of that dark feeling. A form to “escape.” I think subconsciously, I try to compensate my depression with “happy images”, for lack of a better word. Depression is a serious illness. I’ve learned over the years how to cope with it.  I wish there wasn’t such a negative stigma attached to it. Millions of people suffer alone with this illness. That’s a shame. By talking about it, so many people have reached out and shared that they too suffer from it and they feel connected. The reactions are mostly positive, but sometimes heartbreaking.


Scrolling your gallery on Instagram we see an elegant mix of shots of gorgeous models, street photography, and architecture.
Can you tell us more about these three chosen/preferred kind of photographs?

Honestly, I like all genres of photography. Maybe it is because I’m an art director and have worked with so many brilliant photographers, each with their unique style. I have a special place for portraits. It’s a shame that this genre doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Street photography is really hard for me, but I love the genre. I’m just not good at it, for lack of concentration.
I also love architecture. I tend to prefer clean and well cropped images for that.

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 preset

What captures your attention when you are around with your iPhone and you are not shooting for work?

Anything. Art in all forms, a moment, a feeling, a person, the environment, movement and even music. Whatever catches my attention.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

What and why do you look for when shooting: emotive aspects, reality, or just beauty?

It’s always a mix of all things. A moment, a place, a face, a feeling… I never know what will catch my eye. I “stumble” onto my images.  I rarely prepare.

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 preset

What is beauty, according to you?

Ah! The million dollar question! I don’t think you can define beauty. The cliché says that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” It’s true. It’s so personal! There’s beauty everywhere. Even in something others might consider “ugly”, “unattractive”, or mundane. It’s so hard to explain. I’m not good with words. There’s beauty even in tragic moments.

IMG_3846 2
Photography is an opportunity to let us speak of ourselves in a visual way. What do you want to tell us about you with your images?

I have no specific “message.”  Sometimes I publish an image I love, and no one gets it. But if I had a message, it would be for people to think, reflect and feel something. Isn’t that what art is for? To provoke thoughts and feelings?

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

What does photography mean in your life?

Again, this is a complex question to answer. Like any form of art, it’s my way to express myself. Without art and artists, this world would be a sad and lonely place.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Is there one image in your gallery you love most? And if yes, could you tell us why?

There are several. Mostly they evoke a feeling I had at a specific time and they remind me of that specific time. Also there are some images I love because of a certain “aesthetic.” It’s hard to explain. So personal.

Talking of photography, which are according to you, the most common mistakes a beginner makes?

I’d say images that are not aligned, not thought out, or composed. It drives me crazy to see a horizon that’s not perfectly aligned, for example. But that’s really just my thing.


Do you have any suggestions to give about photography?

Have fun and don’t be afraid of experimenting! Shoot what you like and what intrigues you!

Let me know more about your role in Shootermag.

Shootermag is the first photo magazine published in the world dedicated to mobile photography. I manage and select photographers for the features after carefully looking at their body of work. Shootermag USA was the first country-specific edition, published with only photographers from the USA.

Ruth wrote this about me:

“He is as committed to the mobile-photography communities as he is to his photography. Nei is a passionate supporter of so many photographers and he never fails to add a kind, empathic or supportive word. Through his deep commitment to mobile photography and the sense of community he has found, Nei became in 2014 the USA Editor At Large for Shooter Magazine.”

When talking of Nei Cruz, most of us as former AMPt members, or owners of an account on social sites like Instagram and Facebook, think not only about a talented photographer but also of a generous person supporting other peoples’ work. I think your encouragement has been and is for many of us, very important. What or who made you such a warm person, so communicative and outgoing ?

I’m not sure. I didn’t have a happy childhood. I wasn’t encouraged or accepted for who I was. I know how that feels, so maybe that makes me care about what people feel. Everyone deserves love, respect and encouragement. Maybe it’s just my nature and I was born with a caring personality. I don’t know.

Where can we see your work?

Instagram | Facebook | Twenty20 | VSCO


In Spirit and Truth: An Interview with Laura Valenti

In Spirit and Truth: An Interview with Laura Valenti

In Spirit and Truth: An Interview with Laura Valenti by Romina Mandrini

A couple of years ago I enrolled in a six-week online photography course that would impact me – both as a person and as an artist – in ways I never could have imagined. This workshop not only challenged a lot of the pre-conceived ideas I had about photography and art making, but was also the impetus behind a profound journey of self-discovery.

The course was Candela: Finding Inspiration Through Photography, and it was taught by Laura Valenti. Laura is a photographer, curator and educator from Portland, Oregon. She is also the Outreach Director for Photolucida, a non-profit organization that aims to build connections between photographers and the gallery and publishing worlds.

Recently, I had the pleasure of asking Laura a little more about herself, her work and her philosophy.

Image by Fritz Liedtke

Image by Fritz Liedtke

As a child you lived in Asia. Tell us a bit about your cultural background and how you grew up.

I spent my first fifteen years in Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. Because I had such a transient childhood, it took me a long time to develop a sense of place like many other people have. I didn’t have roots in any particular place. My family used to say, “Home is where the furniture is!” It wasn’t uncommon for us to wake up in the middle of the night and not remember what country we were in, or what the house around us looked like. Over time, I learned that I do have a sense of place – I just carry it with me wherever I go. This concept has made its way into my photographic work, actually. I often photograph scenes that express a sense of home, comfort, and belonging.



What attracted you to photography in particular, as opposed to other forms of art making?

I really don’t know what drew me to photography, though I’ve always had a penchant for artsy, crafty endeavours. My father had a darkroom in the basement, so I was lucky to see the magic of the process at an early age. I know I desperately wanted my parents’ camera when I was very small. I keenly remember my mother allowing me to use it one day when I was five years old, and I remember taking my very first picture. I took pictures when we were out and about in Seoul, I photographed friends at birthday parties, and I set up my stuffed animals in silly little tableaus. The camera shot square images and came equipped with exciting flashcubes. Today I still shoot square format, so you could say I’ve stayed true to my original vision.


You have a deep interest in the intersection of mindfulness and the creative practice, and your focus is very much on the process itself rather than the end product. What are some of the ways in which you apply mindfulness when you are photographing?

Mindfulness and the creative practice are interrelated in so many ways. It’s been said that mindfulness is about deepening the quality of our attention, and photography definitely does that. As a practice, photography can help us to be present. When we look around the world for interesting subjects, hone in on particular compositions, and thoughtfully set our cameras – that can all be an opportunity to slow down and practice mindfulness. Photography can be a meditation, in a way. So yes, process feels very important to me. I also like to use joy as a metric when photographing. Are your process, technique, and subject making you joyful? If so, you’re doing it right. A joyful, enriching process leads to stronger images.


How does your spiritual practice influence your work?

A lot of my images are an investigation of the idea of impermanence – a core Buddhist concept. When I recognize how fragile life is, it makes me appreciate it so much more. So, I make images to celebrate my body as it changes, to celebrate the beauty of changing light, to honor transient, transformative moments, and also to mark times when I feel particularly connected to my experience. I like images that are underpinned with depth of meaning like this.


Through my images, I’m also exploring how exquisitely beautiful, painful and joyous life can be – often all at the same time. Even awful experiences are occasions for insight and growth – and the creative process can be a cathartic way to come to terms with challenging life experiences.


One of the concepts that impacted me the most when I took your course was the idea that all photography is essentially an exploration of self. Was there a particular moment in your life when you distinctly realised this?

When I was nineteen I taught darkroom one summer to a group of “at-risk” teens through a great program called Youth In Focus. The kids photographed their home lives, and I remember seeing some pretty edgy pictures. But, the pictures were much more emotionally powerful than they would have been if they had photographed scenes they had no personal connection to.

When I curate exhibitions, I’m always most drawn to images that show the personality of the artist. I want to see artists really put themselves on the line to make their work. I want to see images that are vulnerable, open, emotional. When people make photographs that are deeply informed by their immediate life experience and emotions, they’re almost always stronger. That’s not to say that all photography should be explicitly autobiographical, but I do think images should reflect the passions and personality of each artist. Who you are matters.

Writers are often told to “write what you know”. It’s good advice for visual artists, too. We have backstage passes to our own lives, essentially. Of course, it can be scary to photograph from a place like this, but when photographers realize their photographs are less about the external world and more about their internal climate (and how they relate to the world), their work gets much more interesting.

A very good example of this, of course, is your series “The Family Home”, in which you pay homage to the house your father grew up in. Can you tell us a bit about this body of work and how it came about?

My grandfather died and his wife was preparing to sell the home. I went back, knowing it would be my last visit. It was a special place for me. I moved every couple years as a child, but visited that house almost every summer. So, it was a nostalgic, significant spot. I wanted to make images that honoured the place and my memories.



It was also a sad place, because the neighbourhood was a “cancer cluster”. Something was wrong that caused an inordinate number of people in the neighbourhood to get cancer. It affected my family too. I wanted the images to touch on the pain of loss as well as the beauty of nostalgia for home. I’m so glad I did the portfolio, since it’s my only tie now to those rich childhood memories.


As a juror and curator, you are constantly surrounded by other photographers’ images. Do you ever feel this gets in the way of your own ideas and style?

I really enjoy looking at a lot of work. It feels like a privilege to regularly be exposed to such a wide diversity of contemporary photography. It keeps me visually educated and inspired. Surprisingly, I don’t get visually overloaded, even when jurying a competition with 1000 entries. If anything, looking at a lot of work makes me feel like a stronger photographer. It gives me a better sense of what I like and don’t like, greater confidence in the direction of my work, and a fuller awareness of what is truly unique in the photo world (and what is overdone). When photographers are unaware of these things, it shows. Visual literacy is critical. Photography is like a language. We can express simple ideas with a basic grip on the syntax, and we can express more complex ideas (even poetry!) with a more fluent, nuanced understanding.


Finally, what makes a great photograph?

I care more about meaning and emotion in a photograph than about its technical perfection. I’m interested in images that really make me feel something. Technical mastery is important, of course, but if the image lacks emotional power, it just falls flat.

Most photography education focuses on the technical, and photographers are often taught that they need a lot of fancy gear and an exhaustive knowledge of post-processing programs in order to make images worth caring about. That’s just not true, and I think this prioritization of technique over vision does a disservice to photographers.

Photographers who just study technique for years and years often wind up feeling like they’ve missed some of the magic and beauty that sparked their interest in photography in the first place. Technical education can feel soulless after a point – but the arts are bursting with vibrancy and soul. So, I’m interested in opening up this conversation when I teach. I’m interested in talking to photographers about moving beyond the technical and doing the deeper work, investigating what it really means to be an artist. That’s the way to set the stage for great images.

You can find out more about Laura’s online courses and in-person retreats – as well as see more of her work – by visiting her website ( You can also find Laura on Fcebook and Instagram.

One Hill, Eight Eyes by Joe Montoya

One Hill, Eight Eyes by Joe Montoya

Last year, I went to my first Instameet and discovered an incredible experience that happens when creative people come together in one place. I drove an hour before sunrise to the #GoldenRiseMeet at Golden Valley Ranch in Santa Clarita, California. It was part of Instagram‘s World Wide Instameet which happens about twice a year. The #WWIM12 theme focused on meeting people and asked Instagram users to post a portrait of the person he/she met at the instameet. This was just one location of many Instameets that were happening in different parts around the world.

When I arrived in the parking lot, there were about 30 people already chatting in almost complete darkness. Once sunlight started to glow over the horizon, we trekked about a half-mile up the hills to take photos. These are some of the folks I met and their thoughts on this remarkable experience known as the instameet.

I met Attila. @popscure

This charismatic man did a phenomenal job of organizing and hosting the event. Just as he served coffee to the group he mixed the perfect blend of photography and community.

“When I joined Instagram I discovered that it wasn’t just about posting my pictures. I was part of this “safe” community. I realized that I could share my experiences with them. The Instameet allowed me to actually share my shooting locations with others and gather them to photograph together at sunrise #GoldenRiseMeet” ~Attila


I met Cheryl.

She was last in line on the hike up, giggling about her age and pace up the hill. I had a foot injury that kept me walking at the same pace. Cheryl didn’t hesitate to engage and share her life’s experiences through the lens as we walked up the hill.

“I don’t have an Instagram. I was invited by a co-worker to come. I got my first 35mm camera in 1978. Many times, I will do road trips alone and will drive as far as Montana. I also know of a not-so-well-known location in this part of California. Can I tell you a story about it?” ~Cheryl

I met Rafael. @2071photo

Rafael and his friends were fun to watch. These millennials made up most of the group, and brought a ton of equipment and creativity with them. The props, smoke bombs, and gear were impressive, but their energy and enthusiasm were more impressive.

“Instagram influenced me to shoot more and share more images with an audience I couldn’t imagine was possible before. When I’m not working as a photographer, I feel that Instagram is a fun way for me to still stay motivated to shoot in my free time. The #goldenrisemeet was actually my first Instameet. I thought I should meet more people who share the same interest of photography.” ~Rafael


I met Jose. @josecardoza


Jose is another creative force wrapped in “California chill” and a beard. It is always inspiring to see someone excelling with the craft he is passionate about. Turns out Jose wasn’t done that morning. He went to another instameet in another part of Los Angeles later in the day. “This is my second time at this Instameet, and I enjoy it. I’ve been shooting for 11 years. I grew up in and around L.A. and now work in the music industry.” ~Jose


I met a number of wonderful and interesting people this day that I didn’t get to interview. It was great to chat with John @jawntorres, Jonathan @mywitsend, Theresa @bluemoodz  and Doris @dodovo who I featured on Instagram as a moderator for @wearegrryo. In fact, I stood next to Doris not knowing she was the actual person behind the Instagram name @dodovo. As an observer, I was amazed to experience what happens when creative people who are enthusiastic about the same craft come together.

You can also view my pictorial essay below via Steller.

April In Paris – by L. Bird

April In Paris – by L. Bird

‘April In Paris’ is the first series of the project  ‘f r a g m e n t s  o f  a  w o m a n ‘ s  l i f e’ .  Each series is the story of a real and ordinary moment, lived by a woman and documented by ten diptychs with a short story inspired by them.  This storytelling project melds photography and literature, explores their own borders, flirts with reality and imagination without trying to find a reasonable balance between them.



In Paris, on a Saturday, a woman is preparing herself to meet a man. She’s known him for a while, although they have only been polite acquaintances, not even friends. With time, his relationship to her, and not knowing what he really feels for her, comes to her mind more often than she would like. She has tried to fight against this strange phenomenon, this increasing sensation it reveals, but there is nothing she can do but let it take the place it reclaims… This afternoon, she’s experiencing the thrill of this coming moment, fed by her suspended hopes that something will happen. In just a few hours they will meet; this event is appearing to be a date.


The light by the end of this afternoon is sweet and tenuous. In front of the window, facing Paris, her thoughts are about nothing and anything. Music is on, but she can barely hear it.


Things she’s left out are like tracks of her day. Shoes and socks abandoned since she came out in the morning, clothes on her undone bed, are tiny signs of her mood.


For an instant, she looked into her own eyes searching for answers to the next hours. She would better…

Sitting down in her bath, she’s cleaning her skin, from her neck to her feet, with delicate movements… The music is coming from the living room and she lets her thoughts follow its rhythm now…

04.LBird.fragments.april16.jpgWhat time can it be?

06.LBird.fragments.april16.jpgBack in her bedroom, the waltz of clothing starts. A blouse, a t-shirt, This one would be better?! if ‘better’ can be possible in that matter… If she’s worried, it’s nothing but excitement.


While she’s painting her lips, she tries to figure out this very first moment. Would she know his thoughts at first sight? Shoes on, she smiles at the mirror, as if it were him, to visualize how she would look smiling at something he would say. But it only took her a second to laugh at herself.


Time… She’s not late, but the elevator took so long to come to her floor. She doesn’t think about anything, anymore.


Now, she’s just on his way;




L. Bird is an independent photographer and film maker based in Paris [France]. Her work is all about storytelling, whatever it concerns [whether photography, series or short-movies]. Her work’s aesthetic is mainly inspired by street and documentary photography, but in such manner as that it always turns her images into contemporary tales…

Instagram: @ladybird.notes

Vimeo: Lady Bird

24hourproject: Grryo Editor Version

24hourproject: Grryo Editor Version

jeff kelley  |  northampton, ma, USA

I think the last time I tried to stay up for 24 hours straight was circa 1993, during my freshman year of college. The results then were less than stellar, I ended up falling asleep in my dorm room and missing my Italian midterm. Thankfully, this time, I did a little better. I started out with a 1.5 hour nap at 10:30pm and then it was off to Northampton, Massachusetts to meet up with my friend.

‘Sup and Pup’

Our biggest hurdle was not the struggle to stay awake, but rather, one we were aware of beforehand: finding opportunities to shoot in a small town. Armed with this knowledge, I created a Google doc and tried to make a note of places that would be open, or have good light at various hours of the day. Aside from having a goal of successfully completing the project, I set a few other personal goals as well. The first was simple: to take better pictures than I had in years past.

‘Leading in the Poles’

My other two goals related to the types of pictures I wanted to try and take. I have never successfully done a “street portrait”- One in which you ask a stranger for their picture. @365ken has been a role model for this kind of photo. The other style of shot is a bit harder to describe. It involves finding creative juxtapositions or situations and catching them on film. For this type of shot, I was most influenced by @powercorruptionandlikes.

‘Reader’s Block’

All in all, I was happy with how everything went. I pushed my photography a little further, didn’t fall asleep on the job, and had a good time. Will I do it again next year? Well as my Italian professor taught me to say, “vedremo” (“we shall see“). At least I’m assuming that’s what she taught me. I can’t actually remember any Italian whatsoever.

instagram  |  tumblr

giulia macario  |  melbourne, australia

24 hours of continuous photography with no sleep whatsoever, who would sign up for that? Ahem. me. Three times. What on earth was i thinking….

Like other years I left it up until the day of the event, and a few hours before, to really make up my mind on whether I was participating or not. That being said, I always seemed to get pulled in by the lure of taking part in such a fantastic worldwide event and being part of something bigger than myself. This year was no exception, and after being inspired by many talented photographer friends from all over the world in years passed, I again took part.

Ghosts of Piers Past

‘Ghosts of Piers Past’

So why do it? I guess for me after nearly 8 months of not shooting anything, this was a way to kick my butt into photography gear again. They say practice, practice, practice… is the best way. And for me, not a ‘seasoned’ street shooter – it’s definitely a challenge. I do not plan my shots or where i’ll be hour by hour, I believe theres a magic to letting moments just happen, and if they dont, well, I just move on. I wasn’t too concerned with fitting the mold of what was expected as a street shooter for my hourly posts, or sticking to a style, for me it was more about capturing a feeling using my way of seeing, whether it simply be a blur of colour, a fractured slow shutter experiment or a rush of red going by.





‘Rush by Red’

instagram  |  twitter


valeria cammareri  |  Milano, Italy

The days before March 19 I had done a list of places and locations potentially interesting in my city, and done kinds of photographic rehearsals in different moments of the day to check what I would have found in terms of situations and light. And I had more or less planned the 24 Hours itinerary to optimize travelling time both by transports and on foot. I generally edit my images in black and white: interminable edits with frequent rethinks. To simplify this aspect I decided to shoot only with my iPhone 6s, using a default Hipsta bw combo (John S lens+ AO BW film+ Standard flash), limiting the manual edit just to a few steps.

Metaphysical Space

‘Metaphysical Space’

Although it was my first 24 hour project, I wasn’t particularly anxious about the unavoidable tiredness due to sleep deprivation, but rather about the need to continuously focus on people as subjects. Most of my shots are usually taken in the street and people are always present as the main subject, but I’m not confident with candid portraits and didn’t feel at ease with the idea of improvising a new style. So the most critical aspect to me was the idea to keep on documenting humanity in my own way. But after the first image of this photographic marathon, taken after some hesitation and a tension which was for me unusual, I felt it would be possible. And started to relax about the “style” issue.


‘The Common Reader ‘

The night was supposed to be the most difficult part of this marathon in terms of available subjects . That’s why I had planned, hour by hour, an itinerary . But I didn’t allow for the unexpected. Between 1 and 2 AM I had decided on a shot outside the emergency room of one of the major hospitals in town. I had imagined traffic due to ambulances and people going in and out. So you can imagine my total surprise when I didn’t find at all what I was ready to take a shot of. One of the most quiet and sane nights in town. No ambulances, no people in need of a visit. Nothing. At last I took a shot of a biker who turned out to be a nocturnal worker at the hospital. A shot apparently taken in the middle of nowhere.

Night Shift

‘Night Shift’

This wasn’t the only unexpected situation I had to face during the marathon. For instance, I found no living soul in the 24 hour supermarket, and a military parade in the most famous square of the city, piazza Duomo, right where I had planned to shoot people idly sitting on the churchyard. There were no art watchers at the photo exhibition, and no street carts when I would have needed them. Many shots couldn’t be posted because they were taken too early or too late. But I think this need for improvisation in a bunch of minutes, after so much planning, was the cool part of the story and what still makes me satisfied with my performance. A new chapter next year, no doubt about that. So rather than echoing Jeff saying “We Shall See,” I am for ” You Will See”.

 Make a Wish

‘Make a Wish’


If you’d like to learn more about the 24 Hour Project, visit their website:

Skills to Share – Photo Storytelling

Skills to Share – Photo Storytelling


Rainy Jitters

Sometime in March, thanks to my fellow Grryo team members, I had the chance to do a short course on Skillshare by Kevin Russ titled “Photo Storytelling : On the Road with Kevin Russ”. From time to time we tend to feel unmotivated in photography. We always need some motivation through people, courses, or even by looking through various talents. This short course by Kevin Russ was very interesting. He refined my perspective on taking pictures. Many times we are in a place or moment; we think or see, then decide if we want to capture it, or let the moment be. Kevin showed us through his on the road experience that the “just go shoot” spontaneous method can be a very useful tool. It reminds us of the moment we actually started shooting in the first place by just hitting the capture button and seeing results.


Working on a Rainy Day



Coffee Shop Views

After the course, I tried to keep the concept in mind by simply looking at a moment and following my heart to capture it. The results were a series of colourful moments telling their own story. We do have a tendency to click and then edit based on how we would like to portray the moment, but spontaneity is a really good way of reliving the moment. That is when I personally feel the saying ” A picture is worth a thousand words” expresses how we felt when we shot it.



Street plus Colorful Window views of Singapore


Welcome to Delhi – View of Palace


Stained Glasses


Colourful Shopping


Bridge from Window

Kevin’s course went through the process of each detail moment he was experiencing;  how he captured it, and later on, how he combines it all into a story. He tells us to just go for it. Even when we upload it on social media we shouldn’t put too much thought about likes, followers, but instead, just do what we feel like. That is how we showcase our work and those who are able to see our work will definitely enjoy our feed.


Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex


Waiting area


The Zig Zag

The images shared here are a series of my experience and journey after doing the course. The images vary from different places like Jakarta to Singapore to New Delhi, India and back in Jakarta itself. All of them have been captured from various aspects from a driving car window, to walks, or at shops, or simply at a cafe. During my travels I was able to implement this simple concept and to date I try my best to stick to it. Using mostly Hipstamatic and sometimes using the native camera, I have edited some of them simply to portray the moments accordingly.


A cup of Coffee


Construction Stilts

Everyday we see, click and work through a variety of images trying our best to illustrate our work and keep the passion alive. Yet, we tend to stumble and lose focus. But, it shouldn’t stop us from continuously creating and making better images. Sometimes, taking a pause and just looking around, feeling the moments around us, helps to regain and regroup our minds. Photography is an art and is truly capturing with the eyes of the heart.

Andre Kertesz has beautifully defined what Photography meant to him :

I am an amateur and intend to remain one my whole life long. I attribute to photography the task of recording the real nature of things, their interior, their life. The photographer’s art is a continuous discovery which requires patience and time. A photograph draws its beauty from the truth with which it’s marked. As soon as I find a subject which interests me, I leave it to the lens to record it truthfully. Look at the reporters and at the amateur photographer! They both have only one goal; to record a memory or a document. And that is pure photography.”

Let us shoot for the pleasure it brings to us and define those moments purely by being an amateur, yet always improving the quality of our work. Just go out there, grab your camera and take a shot!

Through the Looking Glass by Romina Mandrini

Through the Looking Glass by Romina Mandrini

I discovered photography around four years ago…or perhaps it is photography that found me.

It all started with some very severe sleep deprivation. Some might even say I was delirious at the time. I’d recently had my fourth baby, and to say he didn’t like to sleep is an understatement. Not. A. Wink. It was sheer torture, day after day, month after month, and it seemed endless. But it was during this bleary-eyed haziness that I felt something explode inside of me. I remember it so clearly, almost tangibly (and believe me, I do not remember much from that time). Creativity started pouring out of me, like lava from a volcano. I began painting and making collages, almost manically. Silly little works to me, as I certainly did not perceive myself as an artist. Creating something – anything – gave the sleeplessness some worthy purpose.

The Parting

The Parting

As a child I’d been very creative, enjoying reading, writing and painting. I longed to study fine art after high school, but my art teacher laughed at me and said I was more suited to studying psychology. I was mortified, deeply embarrassed. I’ll never forget the humiliation. How could I have got it so wrong? How could I have dared to imagine that I could be an artist? I decided to study literature at University (I took some psychology classes too – ha!). I went on to work as a children’s book editor, a job I loved. I thought I’d found my calling, helping others tell their stories, working behind the scenes.

In Hiding

In Hiding

The Burial

The Burial

All along, though, there were stories that I needed to tell too. On a whim during this sleep-deprived-but-creative phase, I found myself buying a used DSLR – a Canon 30D. Looking back now, I don’t really know why I did this, but I can only guess it was another effort to save myself from the sinking ship I was on. I started researching like crazy, learning everything I could about photography. I enrolled in online courses, watched tutorial after tutorial till all hours of the night. I was utterly exhausted, but at the same time completely energised by this newfound obsession. Making images – expressing myself in a visual way – made me feel alive. It was like being reunited with a long-lost friend.

Stronger Than She Looks

Stronger Than She Looks



At first I was simply documenting our family life. I was happy just to be able to capture light, to produce an image that matched what I envisaged in my mind. But soon I began to get a niggling feeling that producing a “pretty picture” wasn’t quite enough. There had to be something more. I started reading about contemplative photography as a way of producing more meaningful images. This mindful approach really struck a chord with me and I began to put some of its techniques into practice.

Eye of the Heart

Eye of the Heart

One day, about two years into my photography journey (and sleeping much better by now!), I made a startling discovery. I was browsing my Lightroom library, when it suddenly hit me. Images jumped out at me, like embers from a fire. I was shocked to see that what I was really photographing was not just my children – it was me. I could see my own childhood, my own pain, my own emotions in the images. I could see how my creativity had been buried beneath my insecurities and, dare I say it, shame. At first this revelation was somewhat disturbing. It was a bit like being given a new pair of glasses, looking in the mirror and suddenly seeing all the ugly imperfections that you never knew were there. I remember at one point thinking I might not be able to pick up a camera again – it was too painful to face myself in that way. I could hear that old storyline echoing in my mind – “you’re not cut out for this”. But despite myself, I started feeling incredible healing taking place.

Finally Seen

Finally Seen

Since that moment, I’ve looked at photography in a completely different way. I’ve stopped striving to “take” good photos; rather I feel excited to see what images I will be given. My images have taken on a new meaning. They continue to tell me stories about myself, revealing secrets I didn’t even know I was keeping. Often it’s in the little in-between moments, in the photos I would otherwise reject as “mistakes”. Other times it’s in the gems. Furthermore, an image may reveal something to me today, and months later it may reveal something new. It’s almost as if each image has an endless number of stories in it.



Playing With Light

Playing With Light

These days I photograph with a Canon 5D and an iPhone 6. Since joining Instagram a few months ago, I have been moved and inspired to find a whole community of people courageously sharing their stories with me. In the process, I have been encouraged to learn that others find meaning in my images too. This has been a most rewarding and humbling experience.

Escape from the Cage

Escape from the Cage



Dorothea Lange once said, “A photographer’s files are, in a sense, his autobiography”, and I don’t think she was necessarily referring to documentary photography, which was her genre. I think there are stories being revealed in all photographers’ work. I encourage you to look more closely at yours. You never know what secrets you will find.



You can see more of Romina’s work on Instagram and Flickr.

The Power of 10: First Images From the New Amazing #HTC10

The Power of 10: First Images From the New Amazing #HTC10

Congratulations to the HTC team on the launch (today April 12, 2016) of their new flagship phone, the HTC 10.  The HTC 10 is much anticipated and is noted in many preliminary lists of the best smart phones in 2016. The 10 is a great phone for mobile photographers. With our short time with the devices, we have been able to generate the first images from the phone online.  If you follow the #HTC10 #PowerOf10 hashtags on social media you will find other cities as well.  This is just three of our photographers representing their cities.

Each photographer was provided some time to get acquainted with the device, the Android Marshmallow OS, and of course the camera, to show their part of the country for the #HTC10 #PowerOf10 @HTC release.  Dutch was the first to work with HTC on behalf of Grryo with the HTC One A9, and his amazing work continues with the 10 as he represents New York City and surrounding areas.   Brad comes from the green wooded north, the Pacific Northwest, to be exact, and shows you a few images from the Emerald City. He also got to use the One A9 and provided a tutorial for mobile photographers using HTC devices. View the tutorials here Part 1/ Part 2/ Part 3. David brings to the Power of 10 campaign, beautiful imagery from the city by the bay, San Francisco. It is his first time using an Android device and we asked him his thoughts:

“This is my first time using an Android phone.  I can honestly say that I like it.  I’m sold on its ease of use and camera functions.  Feels very comfortable in the hand when holding it. I wanted to show photos that were representative of the great city of San Francisco. Show off the iconic places that people recognize, showcase her beauty.”

Please leave comments regarding the HTC 10 and/or the images shown.  The photographers and the HTC team will do their best in answering any questions and responding to your comments.

HTC 10 Camera Specs:  Main Camera/ 12MP Ultra Pixel 2 w/ OIS, 1.55 UM, F 1.8, Laser Focus – Front Camera/ 5MP w/ OIS, F 1.8

Also BIG Congratulations to HTC for receiving the highest mark among all smart phones from DXO: 88!


Dutch Doscher, New York City

Visit Dutch’s Instagram and Twitter to see more photos with the HTC 10

LostSpring snow

Where I wasTo a New Day    
packed inCrushed   
The DestructorThe Destructor
two titans



David Calvin, San Francisco

Visit David’s Instagram and Twitter to see more photos with the HTC 10


Golden Gate Bridge




The Sweetness of Ghirardelli


Transamerica Pyramid


The City


Brad Puet, Seattle

Visit Brad’s Instagram and Twitter to see more photos with the HTC 10


The Tallest One (Smith Tower)


Take Care of the Miners (Miners Landing, Seattle Waterfront)


Get Your Education, Harry Potter (Suzallo Library, University of Washington)


Aliens Gave Us This in 1962 (Space Needle)
HTC_10-3 The Water Limousine (Washington State Ferry System over Elliot Bay)

Sunday Abstracts : February + March

Sunday Abstracts : February + March

 Grryo believes that abstract artists deserve to be recognised. Every Sunday join us in celebrating creative photography and art, from collage, design, multi layered textural compositions, to minimal colour pieces. We want to see diversity and images that cross and merge the boundaries of our imaginations.


We hope to support the abstract arts community by having a place for artists to share imagery that goes beyond the everyday snapshot and pixel and is transformed into a digital artwork that makes you feel something. Abstract art needs to be seen and experienced. We look forward to you and your expressive art and we want to spread the word about your Abstract talents. Thank you for your contribution to the mobile photography/arts community. Please join us by tagging your unique abstract images to #wearegrryo or #grryo.

We hope to see you there!

We invite you to take a look at these artist selections from February and March and experience their extraordinary galleries for yourselves.


Erin McGean


Ground control to major tom. Take your protein pills and put your helmets on. Strap yourselves in and sprinkle yourselves with star dust every Sunday for Abstract Art features from all around the IG galaxy. First up in the digital stratosphere is the exceptionally talented graphical goddess and all round gorgeous being Erin @lifewithart who masterfully experiments with collage and editing elements to create wonderfully surreal images like this one – Iconoclast. Truly in a class of her own.

instagram  | website


Kim Meinelt


One of the things I love about Sundays is uncovering new artists that inspire, move or simply take my breath away. Looking through your images for this weeks grryo abstract feature i uncovered a dreamy, layered, gem of an artist whose work both transcends time and evokes a sense of mystery that leaves you wanting more and more. 

Ethereal, dreamlike, poetry only begins to paint the artistry of the exquisite images of Kim @kimmibird where you can lose yourself in the layers of textures both hidden and revealed. Tattered and torn fragments and portals to a completely different reality, I highly recommend you visit.

yes, i’m Looking at You.

instagram | website 


Gary Edward Blum


If, like me, you adore subtle works on found paper, experiments with mixed media, expressive mark-making, and dabs of colour, then this dynamic combination of fields between painting and photography is just the sunday abstract discovery for you. 
Gary Edward Blum @garyedwardblum is a deft hand with delicate lines, textures, and juxtapositions, and has a keen eye for still life which speaks my kind of visual language. There is nothing ‘incidental’ about his artwork, everything is carefully considered and thoughtfully placed. “Utilizing a mixture of realism and minimalist abstraction, I create a narrative between pictorial reality, artistic process and formal composition.” This converging contrast in his body of work highlights not only his remarkable vision of the world but teeters on the edge between real and perceived reality and abstraction, dotted with smears of colour along the way…

₀ ₂ ₀ ₅ ₁ ₆

instagram |  website 


Shuko Kawase


Its that time of the week again – Abstract Sunday, as the day draws to a close here in Australia. This time round we venture to Japan where @studioshuko caught my gaze with her hazy abstract umbrella in my favourite colour – red. Shuko Kawase’s delicate sensibilities and art leave a dusty and delightful impression on the senses. A dissolving rain of colour and an abstract silhouette bleeding at the edges as if seen through a foggy window or snow storm is just enough detail for our mind to fill in the gaps and form a picture in our minds of the mood and moment captured here in Hokkaido’s Moerenuma Park. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful memory of the day – Portrait of a lady.



Bonny Breddels


App-stacking, there’s a term you dont hear much of these days… well guess what, i’m bringing it back with this beauty. And yes, i’ve checked, its still Sunday in the Netherlands where this weeks’ artist is from… When I asked Bonny about how she creates her images I was amazed how many levels of work went in to transform this ‘manny’ into an almost unrecognible but absolutely Abstract Sunday marvel. In case you were wondering – that’s a mannequin, for the uninitiated, and I love mannequins! Also, are you into textures, scratches, layers of type, creating a multifaceted, multilayered artwork? More is more with miss @beezzz_ and I couldnt help but notice how it adds depth to her dark, inkylicious, moody and mysterious images. For a unique beez eye look at the weird but oh so wonderful world of bonny, buzz on in to to her feed.



Tim Matregrano 


I hopped aboard the yellow submarine again with our latest artist, Tim Matregrano @ruxco_tim for this Sundays escapism treat. It’s been a bright, sunnylicious day here and i’m extremely excited to introduce you to the wonderful waves of moon beamy goodness that radiate from this space age digital collage artwork. But… rather than subject you to my nonsensical ramblings I’d rather you heard it from the man himself. You see, i’m a curious sort and asked the question, “Where does your inspiration come from?” His answer, like his creativity – was rather impressive, so i’ll share it with you now… “I enjoy seeking nuance from composition, shapes, color, texture, and finding the harmony and balance of these. I’ve found that I’m able to create these ‘strange’ scenes, or worlds, with mobile editing that I wasn’t able to achieve with my tactile art. Each piece is an experiment, a push to create the idea I have…” Oh and those tactile things? I wanna hear more about those – it sounds kinda fancy. Drawings, collages, sculptures too? Multitalented – yes. Do we dig it? Oh Yes.




Jeanette Vazquez


Don’t be fooled by the apparent simplicity of her photographs. There is something innately intuitive that I was drawn to with this artists’ work among the thousands of images tagged to the grryo gallery.
How she sees and more importantly how she feels what she photographs is really compelling. Her work is a mixture of abstract reflections and segments of street photography handled with a sensitivity and dusty use of colour that feels like its from a time gone by… Layer by layer she peels back the underlying essence of New York, as she sees it, a fleeting glance, a pair of heels walking out of frame, a window … A frame that is constantly moving and shifting, such an alluring picture of how she breathes in and paints the colours of the city through her eyes.
Thank you Jeanette Vazquez @_jeanettevazquez for revealing your fascinating fragments of art with us this Abstract Sunday. Please wander down the dusky pavements in her footsteps and take a peek into her beautiful world of photography.


Andrew J Hays



What’s in a name? This week for our Sunday burst of Abstractness, a tidy little square package of pop sung out to my graphic heart in the mix of #wearegrryo. How could i go past this bright geometric image by Andrew Hays @andrewjhays . Who doesn’t need a few little splices of multicolour in their life, right?! I’m not always just about black and white you know, and what a mood lifting antidote with this selection. An Amalgamation of cool, cropped, compositionally, correct, crazy, colour treats with mind spinning minimalism. Linear pieces and slices of shadows on this delicious candy coloured wall. This refreshing blend of shapes and colours makes a lively geometric flavour combination for my Sunday Abstracts pick.
And yes getting back to Amalgamation, what a brilliant word and title.




Agnès Lanteri


Immerse yourself in the creative work of the extraordinary artist Agnès Lanteri @ellla_k . She is an exquisite painter of light who has envisioned this brilliantly hued blue abstract piece called Passengers in Transit. This monochromatic mist series 3/6 is a beautiful balm for eyes that see beyond the routine of everyday life and recognise it a true piece of art.
Agnès handles colour and light like they were old friends, each going hand in hand, it doesn’t matter the subject, even a simple piece of fabric or a stranger on the move can be illuminated in her eyes.
This is a remarkable gift.
I for one want to take a meandering journey with this artist and escape into the dreamy quiet of her imaginative space, who’s with me?



Heather McAlister



Graceful, captivating, and full of emotion, this exquisite celestial being Heather McAlister @poppybay takes my Abstract Sunday heart this week with an ethereal self portrait. From behind her gauzy veil her porcelain skin is illuminated against the murky shadows by a most radiant light.
I’m fascinated by art which strips back the layers and reveals something true and real about the artist themselves. Heather does that with elegance and a glowing bouquet of luminous colour cascading down her canvas.

An entrancing hum of divine, glorious, light and dark woven together with her gossamer thread.

It isn’t possible to love and part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal. E.M. Forster




There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.

Pablo Picasso