Oct 31, 2014

Paul Toussaint - A Mobile Master!

© Paul Toussaint
Paul Toussaint is one of the pioneers in the mobile photography movement. It was a pleasure working with him on this interview. If you happen to be attending the PhotoPlus International Conference and Expo this weekend, be sure to catch Paul there - he'll be demonstrating the Nova wireless off-camera flash for iPhone.

What is your name and where do you live?
PJT:  Paul J. Toussaint. I live in NYC.

Do you have a traditional photography or art background?
PJT:  Yes! I have always loved photography and after taking it for several years at Killingly high in Danielson, CT. I went to the Rhode School of Photography in Providence, R.I. Where I studied portraiture and Fashion photography. I actually ended up doing Biomedical photography for hospitals photographing in the operating rooms. I also did a little wedding photography as well, all before digital was taken over for film. From that I photographed antique American and Mexican Sterling Silver. 

9th Avenue NYC © Paul Toussaint
9th Avenue, NYC

Empire State Building Blur © Paul Toussaint
Empire State Building Blur

How did you get started in mobile photography? What device do you use?
PJT:  I still use an iPhone 4 with the 6.0 operating system (LOL) I refuse to upgrade. But I can't wait for the iPhone 6 to come out. Then the iPhone 6 will be my shooting and editing device and I'll keep the iPhone 4 as my phone. During the time I was photographing the antique silver, I needed a new cell phone and purchased an iPhone. It was very quickly that I realized the camera quality was excellent. It fit in my pocket, I no longer needed to carry a camera bag, different lenses, filters or a flash. I found that I was inspired to shoot more and develop my skills for street photography. I photographed everything and anything I could. Everywhere and anything I looked at, I saw art. There were no limits and all the "traditional" rules no longer applied.

23rd St.& 5th Avenue © Paul Toussaint
23rd St.& 5th Avenue 
You have said that "everything is art". How does that relate to your approach with mobile photography?
PJT:  For an example, let's talk about my street and cityscape images of NYC. If you think about it everything from the fire hydrant and street lights to the architecture were designed and created by an artist. Just because it's not in a gallery or because we see the same object everyday doesn't mean there isn't beauty in it, with my iPhone I am able to bring out the beauty in it. I'll photograph the typical street scene then I'll just highlight or bring out the everyday objects and make it a point for the viewers to take notice and look at it again, differently. With my iPhone I approach everything very differently. Train your eye to see art in everything natural or man made.

Washington Heights © Paul Toussaint
Washington Heights

East River NYC © Paul Toussaint
East River, NYC

Do you plan your shoots with an end in mind or just photograph scenes as you go about your day?
PJT:   I basically just go about my day with my iPhone in hand without a planned shooting idea. My eye is trained to see an object, to see the composition and lighting and know already how I am going to run the photograph through my applications. I have no problem photographing people on the subway. I love the spontaneity and the excitement of the unexpected image.  That is why when I take a photograph I start working on it almost immediately and not let it sit in my photo library unfinished.

Early Morning © Paul Toussaint
Early Morning

© Paul Toussaint

Your imagery is heavily textured with rich soothing tones. How has your style evolved?
PJT:  My style has changed so much. Yikes! I am guilty of over using an application in a single image. My very first iPhone images were all shot and posted to Instagram and I look back at them and I love them and they are not heavily over done. The updates and with so many different new applications than just your typical Instagram filters, the options I have are countless. My style has evolved when I "accidentally" created my award winning image "Back To School". It was then I knew that all the so called traditional photography rules no longer applied and that there was nothing wrong with using heavy textures, soothing tones and make the viewer of my work ask, "Is this a photograph or painting?"

Back to School © Paul Toussaint
Back to School

Please describe your process, workflow and favorite apps.
PJT:  As soon as I take the photograph I start working on the image. Once my images are uploaded to the computer, I almost never bring them back into the iPhone to work on them. I get too excited to see the finished product. I photograph using the "native camera" using the HDR setting. I have only now started to shoot with other camera applications that I have.  My images are then put into one or several of my favorite applications which are Filterstorm (my all-time favorite). I would die without it. Snapseed, Camera+, Photo FX, ScratchCam, iCameraHDR, Blender, Pixlromatic+, Slow Shutter, Iris, BlurFX, Cameramatic.

If Dorothy had an iPhone © Paul Toussaint
If Dorothy had an iPhone

Flower - Still Life © Paul Toussaint
Flower - Still Life

You are an award-winning mobile photographer, featured on many sites and are a part of Dan Marcolina's Mobile Masters. Where do you go from here?
PJT: Well I continuously work hard to promote and market iphoneography and the artwork that I am creating because of it. I have been invited by the Worcester Art museum to kick off a new day artist residency program, invited as a guest speaker and to lecture at Macworld in SF, and recently invited by the Rhode Island Art Education Association and The Rhode Island Regional Affiliate of national Scholastic arts award in Newport R.I. and Teach workshops and classes both privately and at the Apple store in NYC UWS. I have been invited to test new applications and products for the iPhone. I have shown in several galleries both here and in Europe and I am excited that I will be part of an exhibition in an Italian museum.

Stranger with Candy © Paul Toussaint
Stranger with Candy
What advice would you give to mobile photographers just starting out?
PJT:  My advice would to Just keep shooting with the iPhone and remember there is no such thing as a bad photograph. Also, join iPhoneography websites and iPhone meet-ups and be active and learn from the comments and suggestions. Also if you're doing something amazing with your mobile device, winning contests, having your image picked as photo of the day or featured etc., don't be afraid to share that great news with social media, your local newspaper and start building your portfolio. 

Close the Bathroom Door © Paul Toussaint
Close the Bathroom Door

What is The Empty Spaces Project?
PJT:  The Empty Spaces Project / Gallery on Main Street, P.O.Box 384, Putnam CT. started out as a small pop up gallery. But, now has a permanent home base. There was this old run down building that was vacant for over 15 years in the middle of Main Street. I was showing my work in a gallery down the road and noticed this building and had this Vision of a NYC gallery in a small town. I contacted the owner to get the space for a low rent and to spruce it up to what it is today. So together with Ann Monteiro, co-founder of the gallery we started to paint and clean up the space. We are now a non-profit gallery and have just celebrated an amazing successful year, I have had some of the best iPhoneographers in the world exhibit with us, we now host all types of Artists and artwork. We love to give new artists their first gallery experience and we have been invited to visit other towns to help revive their main streets and foster the arts. We even had the Governor of Connecticut visit us and just recently the gallery was mentioned in Artscope Magazine as The Gallery to Watch.

Beach Blanket © Paul Toussaint
Beach Blanket

© Paul Toussaint

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
PJT:  I have never thought of myself as a professional photographer or even an artist on any level. It's only in the last several years when I started shooting with my iPhone, joining social media and started to be recognized for my work, that I feel it. What did it for me was when I would have a day I was depressed and then would turn on my computer and find out that of my pic was chosen for artist of the day or artist of the month. 

All those "likes" and "comments" really do make a difference in someone's day or career. I wouldn't be doing any interview at all if it wasn't for so many people and iPhoneography sites who have helped me grow as an artist. The list is endless and forever growing and I want to thank Everyone. So please when someone posts something and it moves you, leave a comment, click the "like" button.  It really does work. 

Rose © Paul Toussaint

Self Portrait - Purgatory © Paul Toussaint
Self Portrait- Purgatory

Find Paul: Website / Facebook / Flickr

The Empty Spaces Project / Gallery on Main Street 
(for anyone interested in exhibiting, volunteering or donating)

Apps Mentioned:
Photo fx
ScratchCam FX
iCameraHDR (no longer available)
Image Blender
Pixlr-o-matic (Paul mentions Pixl-o-matic Plus but it is no longer available in the US App Store)
Slow Shutter Cam
Iris Photo Suite
BlurFX (no longer available in U.S. App Store)


  1. I love Paul Toussant. I love his work. Geri, I love you, and the Art of Mob, for many reasons. Terrific interviews, such as this, would be one of the. Thank you for bringing more of Paul to us all!

  2. Thank so much Carolyn. I sure hope one day we'll be able to publish that interview with you! It would be an honor to feature your work! Do you still have the questions?

  3. I am huge fan of Paul's work. Thanks for doing this interview, both of you!

  4. There seems to be a consensus - we all love Paul!

  5. I love Paul's work! And this is a wonderful "backstage" look at his thinking. Thank you!.

  6. I thought about it today,Geri. That is progress.

  7. Another really insightful interview. Love Paul's style and his approach. This is such an accessible art form. I am so glad to have found it and also this wonderful learning space that is Art of Mob. Thanks Geri.

  8. Thanks for always supporting Art of Mob Meri!

  9. Thank you Julie - I'm so happy to have you on board as a reader!

  10. Am always blown away by your work ! Love it ! Love you ! So glad i hunted you down at Mac World !

  11. Love Paul's work and he is awesome!!

  12. Great artist Geri!!
    I'm in love with Paul intensity
    Bravoooo both of you ;)

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