Today we’re delighted to feature José Luis Sáez, an architect based in a town near Valencia City, Spain. His works – taken with his iPhone 6 Plus – have been featured in the 2015 iPhone Photography Awards, winning first place in the “Others” category, which you can check out here.
How did your foray into photography begin?
A friend told me about this new app “Instagram”, back in 2011 after I had just purchased an iPhone 4, and that’s how it all started.
I’m an architect and I’ve been taken photography of architecture since I was studying Architecture. Anyway, I recognise I’ve gone deeper on my photography since I am on Instagram. It has been the opportunity to put together all my influences and interests (films, classic photographers, my personal tastes) so to create a particular style and put it in contact with other photographers.
What inspires you to take photos with the iPhone?
My iPhone is my go-to machine for everything (work, leisure, and photography). It’s always with me, so I’ve nearly forgotten where my SLR camera is!
You shoot a lot of urban scenes and architecture. What draws you to this kind of photography?
My profession and my boatload of influences. Architecture is my life. This, along with my influences, leads me to search for huge architecture where tiny people feel alone.
What else do you enjoy photographing with your iPhone?
I mostly enjoy shooting backlit subjects. People on the beach at sunset really takes my breath away.
Most of your photos are black & white. What inspired you to choose this medium for your photography?
Black and white was not a choice, but the result of taking away anything superfluous or distracting in order to achieve my main objective which is to capture the light.
My first photography was so dark that it was an easy step. And of course my cultural background also played a role.
I love the best noir films of the 40’s; some of the more recent films such as The Road; and the classic black and white photograph. I carry all that with me, and my photography is inevitably a result of these influences.
Do you shoot in black and white to start with, or do you shoot in colour and then convert to black and white in post-processing?
I usually shoot in colour, even though I love the Noir filter in the iPhone’s native camera app. I find that I can achieve a better black and white image in post-processing if I shoot the original photo in colour.
The light in your photos is incredibly dramatic. How do you achieve this effect when shooting and editing?
Mainly by shooting at dawn or dusk. Light conditions are much better during these Golden Hours. In terms of editing, I always increase the contrast and reduce the brightness a bit.
Tell us about your experience with OOWA lenses.
I am in love with both the 75mm Telephoto Lens and the 15mm Wide-angle Lens. This is my favourite photo taken with the Wide-angle Lens:
It is taken from an impossible place, with the iPhone closed to the wall, on the bottom corner, taken with a remote shooter (impossible to take it any other way). The wide-angle lenses has allowed me to take it with an extremely clean and perfect definition in all the perimeter of the photo, so this is the first time I’ve taken a good photo from this impossible angle with “all” that curve.
In fact, what I like the best about these lenses is all the new perspectives they allow me to photograph. Now it’s my turn to find these “impossible” angles.
One of my favourite spots for photography in Valencia City is the area called “Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias” (Arts and Science City), so I decided to test out the OOWA kit in this place.
Some of these buildings are surrounded by a pool, and sometimes a man rents out one of these plastic balls, usually to tourists. The area, especially at twilight or at sunrise, is full of opportunities for shooting. I use a remote shutter and a mini tripod to photograph, mostly backlighting.
I really love to see the scale of a person looking tiny against these colossal structures. I have hundreds of photos of this kind.
What tips would you give to beginners in photography?
Spending time and effort in the selection of a scene is of central importance to ensure a good end result.
My advice is to choose a scene without any disturbing or distracting elements. Including objects that have nothing to do with the story you’re trying to tell reduces the power of the picture, so keep it simple.
You need to know what the goal of your photography is, then you have to put the time into looking for good scenes. You should make sure you have enough time to shoot regularly.
You also need to set aside time for ruling out photos and editing the best from each session. I utilise a measly 5% of the total quantity of my work. Improvisation does not function in the vast majority of cases.
José Luis shot all the images above with the OOWA 15mm wide angle and 75mm telephoto lenses.
Follow him on Instagram: @jl_saez