Creative iPhoneographer Robert Lancaster

Robert Lancaster

Hi Robert! Could you tell us a little about your background and how you got started with creative iPhone photography and/or art?

I am from Cape Town, South Africa, where I live with my beautiful wife Belinda and our two sons, Seth (13) and Joseph (9). We share our apartment with our four cats Gracie, Lizzie, Dragon and Ryder.

I am a software engineer by profession and have not really had any creative endeavours apart from writing some poetry and many false starts in attempting to write a novel. I was lucky enough one year to get given an iPhone 3GS, which I still have and use, by my brother who was upgrading.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

 Once I started experimenting with the camera and the apps which were available a whole new creative outlet came into being. I have been reading websites and blogs and tutorials voraciously ever since in an effort to gain as much knowledge as I could. I am also a bona fida app junkie and download almost every photography related app I can get my hands on. This all carried on until one day I stumbled upon the MobiTog community and have never looked back. The people there were so friendly and helpful it made the transition into posting my work a whole lot easier. In the mean time I have also been given an iPad 2 (by the same brother who was once again was upgrading) and the bigger screen and more storage space has just fueled the creative fire. This has also allowed me to go into different fields from pure, naked images to the, often very over-apped, abstract. This all depends on my current mood and how amenable the weather is to allowing me to get outdoors and take pictures.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

How do you feel when you're making iPhoneography images?

At the moment my life is quite stressful and busy and iPhoneography has become my outlet. When I am busy working on images I become relaxed and focused and am able to shut out stress for a while.

What are you thinking about most in your creative life these days?

At the moment I am using my creativity as a way of expressing my current emotional state. As I become more focused on an image and start to see an image forming which expresses my emotional state, I find it very uplifting, calming and empowering. My most recent works have featured a lot of heavy abstract images and not so many unprocessed images. This is a sure sign that things have been a bit hectic for me recently.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

You mentioned that iPhoneography has become a way for you to express your emotional state. Would you say that it can play the role of a type of therapy or emotional self-care? 

It is a bit of both. It helps me process what I am going through at that moment in time. Therapy in so far as it very calming and relaxing, and emotional self care by clearing the mind to process whatever is happening. This is especially true for the more abstract work. When the stress levels are lower is when I tend to work in a more photographic style.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

Could you describe your creative process when you work with this type of abstract, expressive image? 

An abstract being the freest form often has no thought process or set workflow, or even set of apps. Abstract to me is all about how it makes me feel. Each step is guided by the previous step. Whether you stay in one app or switch apps often also varies from piece to piece. I just keep working on each image, often for days and sometimes weeks, until the image is complete.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

What would your suggestion be if someone asked you how to get going with their first abstract, expressive image?

For me it always starts off with an image which would normally be deleted. But the image has interesting lines or shapes or colours. Symmetry also plays a role. Look for an image which you would normally have deleted but for some or other reason is still on your camera roll or in your photo stream. You must have kept it for a reason, and maybe forming a piece of an abstract image is that reason. 

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

You work both in an abstract, expressive style as well as in a more unprocessed or photographic style. This is a situation a lot of people struggle with. They work in a more "art style" and a more "photographic style", and find it hard to put them both on the same page. How do you deal with working in these two very different styles at once? 

It was something I struggled with when I first started experimenting with iPhoneography. A lot of people seemed to have very distinct styles. I couldn't seem to settle on just one. This was until I realized that I did not need to force my work in one direction or another just to conform to a style. All I needed to conform to is what made me happy. If it makes me happy then I am sure that there other people who will appreciate it too. 

Which role does the iPhoneography community MobiTog have in your creative life? 

MobiTog is my creative home. It is full of friends, inspiration, caring, nurturing, teaching, learning and sharing. The art being shared at MobiTog is of the best, if not the best, anywhere on the internet. Since I discovered MobiTog it has become my social community of choice. I have tried Flickr, EyeEm, 500px, Instagram, Oggl and every other community on the web but always come back to MobiTog. I have learned most of what I know from the brilliant artists in the community like RoseCat (Catherine Restivo), lisamjw (Lisa Waddell),maktub77 (Sacha Dohmen), Bob Weil, Rudy Vogel and many, many others whose names I apologise for not mentioning here. Venomator (Rog) and Smooth (Matt) have created something very special in MobiTog and for this I am eternally grateful to them both.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

Which are your favourite apps for expressing yourself creatively? 

At the moment my favourite apps are (in no particular order) Snapseed, Glaze, iColorama and Repix. Image Blender and Superimpose for layering. Phonto for captioning and watermarking images. And I am a huge fan of all of the apps by JixiPixFor B&W images I use Noir Photo and Monokrom.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

What do you find to be the greatest challenges and rewards of being an app junkie?

The greatest challenge to be an app junkie is to be able sift through all of the apps being made available to find thse that are any good, or could be of any use. This goes hand in hand with the greatest reward which would be discovering that one hidden little gem of an app that opens up a new creative outlet.

What is your creative advice to others who are inspired but don't know where to begin?

Join MobiTog! This is a must. The community is warm and inviting and friendly. You will be supported and helped with whatever questions you may have. There is no negativity at all, it is the perfect place for an inspired artist to land. There is so much incredible artwork to view and entertaining challenges to enter. All of which will inspire you more and encourage you to create and to share your creations.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

Where can people see your work and connect with you online? 

I have tried all of the image sharing and photography related social media websites like Instagram (@zaroblan), Flickr, IPA and Oggl. But all of these have not been updated in a long while. The main reason for this is MobiTog. I have been a member for around two years and post there regularly. I recently joined the ranks of Site Staff at MobiTog. Feel free to pop on over to visit us, we really are a friendly bunch.