Hipsta’s Angels – An Audience With Three Leading Ladies of Hipstamatic by Nick White
Hope you all have enjoyed We Are Juxt’s Week of Hipstamatic. For the finale, Nick White presents to you; Belinda, Tammy, and Rachel.
Hipstamatic is the first iPhone photography app that I ever got. It began my journey, but alas, for a time – distracted by the bells and whistles of dozens of other apps – I neglected Hipsta and am now thankfully enjoying a current re-discovery of this oft-imitated, never-bettered retro shooter. It strikes me that Hipstamatic is enjoying renewed popularity and so I wanted to bring together some leading Hipstamaddicts who have provided inspiration through their work and use of this app, whether alone or together with other editing apps. When thinking of who best fit the bill, for me three lovely ladies came to mind… I have dubbed them “Hipsta’s Angels”. They are:
BG: Belinda Gregg (on EyeEm; bindyboo on IG)
RS: Rachel Sawyer (iwife on IG; iwifeinspace on EyeEm)
TG: Tammy George (punkrawkpurl on IG and EyeEm)
Hit the links to take a look at their wonderful feeds, then read on as I try to stay – mostly – out of the way as they each describe their personal Hipstappreciation.
NW (Nick): What is it that drives you to take pictures and develop your abilities artistically? And specifically, what drives you to do this on a mobile device?
BG: I’m not sure I know what drives me, an inner force perhaps? I’ve always loved to document the world around me with images, to freeze a moment in time and create something special from the ordinary. I find my iPhone marvellous for this as I always have it with me. I like to think I capture moments that would otherwise go unnoticed.
RS: There are a number of reasons I’m inspired to make photographs, I’d say the most significant is the preservation of moments in time and how they affect me emotionally. I’m a hopeless romantic at heart and what makes me happiest is sharing a perspective on life that’s just surreal enough to evoke nostalgia, serenity or some sense of peace even if only for a brief moment.
My family has a long history of appreciation for and aptitude at creating visual or tactile art. I’ve always wished I was artistic like other members of my family who paint, sew, draw, craft furniture, or preserve old books. Some of my earliest memories of visits to museums with my Nana still inspire me today. I know any talent or eye I might have for making photographs developed thanks to her and to the countless museum catalogs, art history books and National Geographic’s she shared with me over the years.
While I personally have appreciated and consumed art since I was very young, it wasn’t until my family and friends started asking for prints of my photos that I embraced my potential to create art. And it wasn’t until I began interacting with the creative community on Instagram that I felt enough confidence to really put my heart into this hobby and share it widely. There are few things more inspiring than getting props from an artist you admire, right? I only share photos that make me feel good. Really good. So, to evoke those feelings in my friends and peers… well, to me that is success and reason to continue making and sharing my work.
When asked what drives me to use a mobile device to create,I immediately hear Chase Jarvis’s words: “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” We are so fortunate to have these technological wonders at our fingertips and in our pockets. It’s not lost on me that I possess a tool that’s taking photography to a new level. I enjoy shooting with my Sony DSLR, but when I can shoot, review, edit and share images all from one device that fits in my pocket… well, let’s just say the Sony isn’t getting much love these days.
TG: I am fairly new to photography. Sure, I’ve snapped my fair share of special occasion shots over the years. I was obsessed with the family polaroid in the 80′s (& scolded for film usage… how was I supposed to know that film didn’t grow on trees?!). I recall snapping a photo of an orange fruit loop on a blue tablecloth and thinking it was absolutely beautiful.
I have always been very creative; sewing, knitting & pattern design, mixed media collages, sketching, etc. Snapping an image and then taking it a step further by manipulating those images into an altered work of art has been a natural step for me… and that I can do it while in line at the market or wherever I find myself with a few minutes of down time, well that is just brilliant!
NW: How and when did you discover Hipstamatic? What drew you to it? Were you a fan of Lomography previously?
BG: I met up with a friend of mine in mid 2010 and over coffee she showed me the ways of Hipstamatic. I thought it looked fascinating, a digital camera app that let you create images that looked like retro photos! I’d never seen this kind of thing before. So when I got my first iPhone a month later it was one of the first apps I got. I loved the unusual result and the way the JohnS lens made every shot look more interesting… I was hooked.
RS: Shortly after getting my first iPhone in April 2009 and on the advice of a photographer I admired, I purchased the CameraBag app, which ignited my obsession with LoFi photography and the different visual flavors of photographic eras. I immediately started consuming photography books and following artist blogs for pleasure while searching for photo apps to create my own images. I’d love to say I ran out and bought a Holga or a Rolleiflex, but the ease of use combined with the instant results the iPhone affords kept me from going that route. I was hooked on mobile photography.
I first heard of Hipstamatic shortly after its release around September 2009 and was intrigued by the idea, but to be honest… the name repelled me. I thought it was just a silly gimmick and dismissed it. A year later, I was shooting mobile photos like mad and had probably amassed 30 or so different photo editing apps. Having seen Hipstamatic consistently in the App Store’s top ten photography apps and running out of justification to resist, I relented and purchased the app along with a few of the Hipstapaks. At first, its multitude of films, lenses and flashes intimidated me. However it didn’t take long before I realized the potential of those options and why they appealed so much to me; I prefer pairing lenses with film to achieve a specific result before I take the shot, greatly if not completely removing the need to post-process. I like the gamble. I like to slow down, think about light or composition, then identify the best equipment for a scene. Sometimes I wonder if this means I was supposed to be a film photographer. I think maybe in a past life, that’s who I was.
TG: Seconds after purchasing my first iPhone in November 2009 I found myself perusing the app store. I was searching for apps that would make my life easier, more exciting, more organized, more social, and more… oh wait… what is this Hipstamatic camera thing. Yeah, my cat will look even cooler shot through the lens of this nifty looking little baby. (Please note: I rarely post images of my cat… any more.) It reminded me of the toy cameras that I had goofed around with when I was a kiddo. I was game to check it out for $1.99. Little did I know that my creative life was about to change.
NW: What led you to choose Hipstamatic as your main camera app? Do you feel it is essential to achieving the look and style you seek in your work?
BG: I started using Hipstamatic as my go-to camera because it produced a better result than the native camera on my 3GS. It was slightly zoomed in and a higher resolution. Because I was using it all the time, I became familiar with the best settings to use under different circumstances to get my desired result.
I use Hipstamatic as the base for most of my work, but I switch up the combos a bit so I wouldn’t say it was essential to my style. I got a 4S at the end of last year and I actually use the native camera a lot more. Hipstamatic is still my first choice, but when that roll hits nine I’ve got to use something else. If I had to define my work it would be as emotive silhouettes and that can be achieved with any app.
RS: Around this time last year, my activity on Instagram had become, shall we say… borderline obsessive. I was so into it that I spent hours editing photos I’d shot with Camera+ or the native camera and at the same time I was shooting all the same scenes with Hipstamatic too. I was taking a ridiculous amount of photos. My family wanted me back and they weren’t shy about letting me know. I had to find a way to tighten up my workflow. I think that’s why it was so easy for me to give myself a challenge: to systematically learn what the equipment could really do by shooting exclusively with Hipstamatic. I decided to use it like a film camera, experimenting in different scenarios to learn: What combinations work best in low light? Outdoors in grey weather? Indoors shooting my kid’s birthday party? Diffuse sunlight at the beach? A night out with friends?
Thanks to Hipstamatic’s regular debuts of new films, lenses and flashes, I’ve never been bored since. This, coupled with Tammy’s and her team’s weekly HipstaRoll (IG) themes, has kept me busy and the creative juices flowing all these months and I intend to keep shooting Hipsta indefinitely.
I feel Hipstamatic is absolutely essential to the look and style I prefer to see in my work. I try to shoot in varying locations and with whatever theme or subject inspires me so my work doesn’t get boring, but I definitely feel at home in my dreamy little square format world. And as I mentioned before, it’s that sense of nostalgia produced by Hipstamatic’s tool box that makes it my camera of choice.
I really do think of Hipstamatic and iPhone in general, as my camera. Just as Leica or Cannon have their devoted consumers, so does Hipstamatic. And I’m one of them.
TG: I have always enjoyed the accoutrements of any hobby… drafting class afforded me to geek out on all kinds of goodies… that week of thinking I wanted to cook more had me drooling in the aisles of the cook shop… and let’s not even graze the waters of the tools that fill my sewing room. Hipstamatic having (at the time this is written) 22 lenses, 21 films and 10 flashes makes this gadget girl swoon. Where many folks report that changing the camera gear is tedious and/or annoying… I adore the fiddly-ness of it all.
Before Hipsta’s recent introduction of the “favorites” feature, you had to either go into your Hipstamatic camera roll, “match settings” from an existing image OR you had to switch to the front of the camera and flip through each lens, film and flash… which I actually loved to do. It slowed me down and made me really think about which combo would be the best for the scenario I was about to snap. I may have started out looking for the Watts lens, but when I flipped past Melodie an “AHA” moment happened. That being said… I have also had those moments of “OMG I missed an awesome shot because I couldn’t load the film in time”.
I shoot 99% of my images with Hipstamatic and I edit about 75% of them. Although I know that I will likely be heavily editing most of the images that I shoot (either in decim8 or using multiple other apps to layer several images to create a “photo collage”) I still shoot each image as if I am planning to post it as is, straight off of the roll. The various Hipstamatic combos provide great foundations for me to springboard my editing processes from.
NW: Share your thoughts on the other products that the Hipsta team have created; are they as engaging? Useful? And what are your feelings on the pricing structure used within the app for lenses, films, etc.?
BG: As far as other products from the Hipstamatic team go, I absolutely love IncrediBooth and cannot live without it. Many hours of fun have been spent with my friends and my kids photographing ourselves. SwankoLab isn’t one I really got into, I like it but could never get my head around it properly. The D-Series is an interesting concept, I like that too. I’ve shared a few cameras with friends both here and overseas; it’s quite fun to take images with the thought that it will surprise a friend in their camera roll. Great at an event. I think the way they charge for their product is clever. Once you’re hooked you just want more and 99c for a “pak” is great value for hours of entertainment.
RS: Before I dedicated myself to Hipstamatic, I really enjoyed IncrediBooth and I think it’s a well designed, fun-to-use app. Honestly, it’s been so long since I used it, I can’t in good conscience give a detailed review. Great for documenting a night out with friends.
I was one of the many Hipsta fans who eagerly awaited release of the Hipstamatic Disposable (D-Series) Camera. I was also one of the many who were frustrated by its functionality. Its initial release was buggy and the idea that I had to pay for each roll of film was such an obvious money grab on Hipsta’s part, I suppose it did leave a bad taste in my mouth. I bought one “pack” of film and used it a few times, but the idea that every shot was costing money somehow took the fun out of it. I expanded on this in an app review when it first came out.
I will give credit where it’s due, however. One of my personal favorite series so far, Winter Cathedral came out of Hipsta-D. They built some really beautiful filters into that app. I tried to use it regularly for the first few weeks after its debut, but its design is that of a social party camera, not a daily use camera. I didn’t finish rolls of film before I forgot about them and I wasn’t interested in the Facebook Sharing feature. The final verdict? Hipsta-D wasn’t compatible with my workflow. As of the latest update, it’s nestled back in my ‘B-team’ photo apps folder. However it remains a session based camera for me, because I do love the effects. If they opened it up to save images immediately to the camera roll, I would use it more often.
TG: My thoughts about the pricing structure of the add-on HipstaPaks… 99¢ – $1.99 every few months is a heck of a lot cheaper than a trip to the movies & provides much more entertainment.
Hipstamatic D Series: I do love the concept and the challenge that shooting an entire roll of film without looking presents. And some of the cameras (films) are quite good, MegaZuck 84 is my fav. The thing that I most hope to see in future developments is the ability to share cameras with friends outside of the Facebook network.
SwankoLab: this one has been rolling around in a folder on the back page of my phone for sometime now. I was quite enamored with it upon it’s debut, but it wasn’t able to hold my attention for long. However… I have been using it much more in recent weeks in editing my more abstract images.
NW: You have undertaken activities related to promoting and sharing the joy of Hipstamatic with the community; tell us a bit about the impetus behind these endeavours and where you might see them going in future.
BG: I want people to enjoy Hipstamatic as I do and by sharing my images I hope to inspire others. [NW: Part of this sharing endeavour is the creation of the purehipstamatic hashtag on IG.]
[NW: As mentioned earlier, Rachel has posted pieces here at Juxt on her ‘Winter Cathedral’ series and a feature on the D-Series.]
TG: HipstaRoll… early on in my Instagram days I had found/was found by other Hipstamatic junkies. We talked a lot about which films and lenses we liked to use in different scenarios. It occurred to me that I could learn a lot from these other HipstaNerds.
43 weeks ago I suggested to my dear friends Chuck (IG: lucky_chucky) and Tomie Jane that we should pick a different combo each week and invite others to share in the experimenting. And that is precisely what we did. We made it very clear that it wasn’t a contest/challenge/competition…. we weren’t interested in judging who took the “best” shot. What we wanted to see was how different people were using the same equipment in different settings and scenarios (hence our request to share only pure, edit-free Hipsta shots). We wanted to learn from one another. We wanted people to learn themselves, by inviting them to try out some different combos that they may not otherwise have tried.
HipstaRoll has grown up from a lone hashtag into its own Instagram account with a dedicated following of folks who continually report that they look forward to Fridays when we announce the newest “combo”. Thursday is also a popular day around the HipstaRoll schoolyard, when we recap/review the previous week’s combo… everyone gets to chime in with what did or didn’t work for them and share their tips.
Chuck and I are the current admins for HipstaRoll. We are currently working on some new ideas for the project and as time permits, we hope to be rolling them out this (northern) spring.
I would like to extend my deep gratitude to each of the Hipsta’s Angels for taking part in this piece. Please check out their feeds on IG and EyeEm and if on IG, take part in the HipstaRoll project if you are looking to know your Hipsta better!
For more images from the Angels, click here.
Juxt thanks you all for your words and your art!
About Nick White
Chasing light, then projecting dark. It’s God and me; He does the hard work, I just have to keep up. Mobile is the only way.