Dec 8, 2014

The Man Behind Mobiography - An Interview with Andy Butler

If I wore one, I would take my hat off to Andy Butler, the man behind Mobiography.net and Mobiography Magazine. Mobiography, both the website and the magazine cater to all of us who have a passion for mobile photography. I know how much work is involved in just this little blog, so I imagine the amount of hours Andy puts in to hit all of his magazine deadlines probably keeps him busy all the time. I'm glad he did find time to answer a few questions. Andy was also kind enough to include a promo code for first time subscribers to his Mobiography Magazine to receive one month's free access. Keep reading for details!


© Andy Butler
What is your name and where do you live?

AB:  My name is Andy Butler and I live in Preston, Lancashire, a small city in the north of England. By day I work as a web designer/developer for a PR and marketing agency, outside of this I juggle life between family and two kids, running the mobiography.net website and its supporting magazine (of the same name).


How did you develop an interest in mobile photography?

AB:  I’ve always had an interest in photography ever since an early age but have found it somewhat restrictive due to the bulky nature of my DSLR camera (especially when out with the family carrying all the paraphernalia that comes with having young children).

 A few years ago I heard about an app called Instagram but at the time I was an Android user so the app wasn't available to me. One day in the summer of 2012 I was sat in the garden whiling away the time, I searched for the app once more, this time it was there. I installed it and was hooked. From then on I was shooting with my mobile phone and found it so much more liberating than using my DSLR.

© Andy Butler


Do you have a traditional photography or art background?

AB:  I went to art college and studied graphic design at university which included photography as part of the studies. In those days it was traditional film photography as the digital camera didn't exist. I loved the whole darkroom experience from the developing of the film rolls to the processing of the prints. There was something real and tactile about the development process which is something I think has been lost in today's digital age.

© Andy Butler

Tell me about Mobiography Magazine and how it all started?

AB:  As I started getting more into using Instagram I began to seek out information about mobile photography, the apps and techniques to use to take better photos. I originally started the Mobiography.net website as a means of documenting the photos I took as part of a 365 project I was undertaking. From there I started to write about the things I discovered along the way and as I got deeper into mobile photography I started to discover this whole new subculture and community that existed around it.

The website then started to evolve to include showcases and interviews with the people I was meeting. I was inspired by their stories and approach to the photos they took. Unfortunately the 365 project only lasted 6 months before life took over and it fell by the wayside but by that time the website had taken on a new direction and found its own groove.

At about the same time that I started the website I also came across a platform that offered the ability to publish digital magazines to Apple’s Newsstand. I immediately saw the potential in this and how the idea gelled beautifully with the concept of mobile photography. As the website evolved it seemed like a good supporting medium and companion to the website.

The magazine was launched in April 2013 to iPad users. In July that year an iPhone version was released and later an Android version. As far as I know it is the first mobile photography magazine to be available on iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

Mobiography Magazine Screen Shot
Is this a solo enterprise, or do you have any contributing staff that help in the curation of the magazine? Do you accept submissions from the community at large?

AB:  At the moment it is pretty much me. As a designer I do all the page layout and design work myself, I write most of the articles but also curate articles from volunteer contributors.

There is a lot of work involved in putting an issue together which is the main reason I opted to publish the magazine on a bi-monthly basis. Had I opted to go monthly I wouldn't have been able to sustain it for this length of time. Meeting the publishing deadline, providing a consistent user experience and technical support is paramount to me and I believe it is a formula that has helped build a trusted reputation with my readership.

I’m currently looking at ways that I can develop the magazine further. As part of this process I'm looking to build a team of passionate photographers, artists and writers who can regularly contribute and help take the magazine to the next level as well as offering alternative points of view.

If anyone would like to put forward any contribution ideas for tips, tutorials, reviews or photographic projects they are doing I would urge them to get in touch.
Mobiography Magazine Screenshot
What areas of mobile photography do you cover in the magazine? Are all devices included?

AB:  The magazine covers all aspects and styles of mobile photography from street to landscape to abstract. Each issue features interviews with talented mobile photographers, top tips and tutorials to help people develop their photography, it also includes accessory and app reviews.

There is no differentiation between devices but as about 97% of the readership are iOS users the content tends to be more slanted to being iPhone centric. That said I am aiming to include more Android related articles but as I’m an iPhone user it is difficult to give a balanced Android point of view.

© Andy Butler


What can we look forward to in the December issue of Mobiography?

AB:  There are interviews with two contrasting photographers, the award-winning Cedric Blanchon and David Ingraham of Tiny Collective. As it's December, we also look at Christmas gift ideas for the mobile photographer, at some macro photography tips, Camera+ 6 and review the photo storage app Trunx, plus much more. It really is a bumper packed issue.


In addition to your day job, I imagine between Mobiography Magazine and Mobiography.net, you're kept pretty busy. Do you contribute to any other mobile photography sites or publications?

AB:  I'm a contributor to the fantastic Grryo website and community (formerly We Are Juxt). It was an honour to be asked to join the team and one I didn't want to pass on. The other Grryo members are very supportive of one another and very passionate about their photography. The passion these guys have is a real inspiration to me. I've not contributed as much as I should have this year due to life taking over. I have a pretty rigorous workload and I’m having to spend a lot more time looking after my youngest son who has a learning disability. This has proven to be a very demanding situation which has been taking priority over a lot of things including my available time for photography and other commitments.

© Andy Butler


You promote a lot of mobile photographers, but how about you? Where can we see more of your photos?

AB:  I mainly post to Flickr and Instagram but as I mentioned life has been taking over so I haven't been as active as I'd would have liked. I love all types of photography from street to landscape and abstract. I mainly shoot with ProCamera before importing into Oggl, applying a film/lens combo and using the sharing feature to post out to my social networks. If I'm not using Oggl then Snapseed is my other go-to app.

When I do post I try to be as selective as possible. One observation I made from undertaking a 365 project was that it was all too easy to post images that I felt were substandard just so I could meet that days posting schedule. I became uncomfortable with this so nowadays I aim to only post work that I’m happy with.

People can also follow me on Flickr

© Andy Butler


© Andy Butler


With a lot of accessories being developed for the iPhone and other smartphones, do you see mobile photography becoming more complicated and less spontaneous?

AB:  I don't think so, spontaneity is at the core of mobile photography, it always will be. On a basic level it is about capturing those passing moments in life and sharing them with the outside world. I think the growing range of apps and accessories are just an indication of the interest and popularity in the genre.

For those that choose to embrace these accessories and use them right, it will help to explore and push the boundaries of what can be produced with a mobile device. I think the gap between mobile photography and big camera photography is certainly closing. At the very least it's getting interesting.


© Andy Butler


What is the biggest change you've seen in the world of smartphone photography?

AB:  The biggest change I’m seeing is people's interest in this area of photography. The growth in apps and accessories is one indication of this but also the growing interest and popularity in events such as the Mobile Photography Awards, the inclusion of the mobile category in the photographic competitions such as the Terry O'Neill Awards and next year’s Mobile Journalism Conference in Dublin.

You also only have to go for a day out to a popular tourist location to see more and more people using their phones or iPads to take photos instead of digital or DSLR cameras.

© Andy Butler


© Andy Butler


Is there anything else you'd like to add?

AB:  Firstly, I’d just like to thank you for giving me this opportunity but also that I’m proud to be a part of the mobile photography community as it develops. It is something that has reignited a long lost enthusiasm for photography and has enabled me to connect with and make friends with so many people around the world, some of whom I hope to meet up with in 2015.

I’d also like to urge people to check out the magazine in the App Store - or on Google Play -  - If you are not yet a subscriber then hit the big yellow subscribe button, then tap current subscriber and enter the special promo code MOBIONEWEB - this will give you one month free access.

Finally, as I say, if anyone would like to put forward any contribution ideas for tips, tutorials, reviews or photographic projects I would urge them to get in touch.

© Andy Butler


© Andy Butler


Andy's Social Networks:   

Mobiography
Magazine on iOS
Magazine on Google Play
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
Flickr
Oggl


© Andy Butler

8 comments:

  1. Thank you so much Geri and Andy for this interview, really enjoyed it! I was already happy with the interview and then this

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  2. Reading an interview about interviewing Andy, what a nice surprise :-) And thanks for the code.

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  3. Hi Bonny - I appreciate Andy using Art of Mob to share his gift

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  4. Once again Geri thank you for the opportunity to be featured on your website.

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  5. He's always featuring everyone, I thought it was high time he was featured too!

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  6. Wonderful to learn more about you, Andy! Thanks for all the work and countless hours you devote - well deserved indeed!

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