CL: My name is Cheryl Lemon. I live in Santa Cruz, California. I love living where the mountains and sea are close to my doorstep.
How did you get started in mobile photography? What device do you use?
CL: My first smart phone, an iPhone, was a gift, about 4 years ago. I wasn't sure I wanted it, but then was quickly enamored by the camera feature. It was so easy to just whip it out, whenever, wherever, so I found myself, like many, spending more time taking pictures with my phone than talking on it! Then I discovered photo apps, and needless to say, that opened up a whole other world. I've only had iPhones, and currently have an iPhone 6. Previously I'd used a variety of point and shoot cameras, primarily to take photos of my family.
Do you have a traditional photography or art background?
CL: No, none at all, although I do consider myself a creative at heart. I've always loved to draw, doodle in the margins, write, create / make things / decorate and now, take photos with my iPhone! I've done some experimenting on my own with pastels, pen & ink, plus a little water color. I'm working up the nerve to take a painting class! P.S. In my next life I hope to answer yes to this question!
Who or what inspires you?
CL: I'm inspired by so many things, but nature is probably my biggest inspiration. The dynamic play of light and color never fails to move me, whether out in nature or in a crowded city. In thinking about this question, I realize that people, particularly people's faces, inspire me too, and yet I rarely take photos of people, especially people I don't know (I get all shy, plus don't want be too intrusive). Maybe by creating foliage faces on Instagram I've found a way to explore my fascination with faces. Speaking of, major inspiration credit (plus a whole lot of love and gratitude!) goes to Justina Blakeney, creator of #FacetheFoliage on Instagram! (See next question below).
All kinds of art forms and styles inspire me as well; modern abstract oils, ancient sculptures, global folk art, children's book illustrations, street art, I love it all. And Instagram...such an incredible source of inspiration and a wonderfully supportive community!
Your gallery on Instagram is so unique. I am particularly interested in how you started creating collaged faces?
CL: I've been following Justina Blakeney, @JustinaBlakeney, a vivacious and prolific young artist, designer, stylist and author. She started posting these amazing foliage faces a little over a year ago, then created #FacetheFoliage, inviting others to join in and post their creations as well. I was instantly hooked. It was an easily accessible creative avenue and there was/is something about both the immediacy and transitory nature of it that drew me in. Who knew that it would grow and blossom (sorry, couldn't help myself with that one!) into a vibrant worldwide community movement?! Justina recently created an account, @facethefoliage, as well as the hashtag. It's been beyond fun, seeing and getting inspired by what others create, plus connecting with people all over the world!
Are the faces drawn, or is each feature also made using collaged bits of nature?
CL: The faces are never drawn, but rather spontaneously fashioned entirely from foliage that I've collected from my yard or on walks and hikes. They often change quite a bit in the process. I now carry scissors with me and admit I've become a shameless plant thief too...though I am careful to not pinch anything precious. Weeds & fallen leaves are great!
In the best case scenario, I take a walk, collect some foliage and go home and make a face. But, often that's not how it goes. Sometimes I'll collect foliage but don't have time to get to making a face...and alas, they wither and die. But withered and half dried up can actually work sometimes too! And you'd die if you saw the foliage 'corner' in my garage - yep, I save all those promising bits and pieces. Dried leaves and flowers, seeds, pods, cones, moss...I'll stop there but I joke that I've become a plant hoarder.
The only way to preserve these foliage faces is to take a photo, and this has turned into an unexpected and interesting part of the process as well. Often I'll look at a face I've made and then take a photo. I'm always surprised that, more often than not, the photo looks nothing like what my naked eye sees. I've discovered that it really helps to take photos along the way, as well as when I'm done. Sometimes I have a specific idea in mind, and on occasion I'll refer to a photo if I'm trying to create a real person (the hardest!). Other times the plants in hand are what inspire me. And sometimes, my ideas completely change in process. My first 'child' face happened when I began with the idea of doing a really old person....go figure?! A fun part about taking a final photo to post on IG is the ability to play around with apps to enhance the image.
In addition to your collage work, you also feature beautiful nature photos, portraits and still life. Is most of your work photographed with your iPhone?
CL: First of all thank you, as I'm a total and utter amateur. And yes, most of my photos are taken with my iPhone. Having it so close at hand, I find I stop and notice things more than ever (I can hear my friends sighing), and by taking lots of pictures I hope I'm learning and improving by simply doing. Recently I purchased a digital Sony RX100 III, which I've been trying to teach myself how to use. I'm having fun with it and think it will be especially nice for traveling, but I still tend rely primarily on my iPhone.
What are your favorite apps for shooting or editing photos?
CL: I only shoot directly with my iPhone. My go to app is Snapseed. Absolutely my fave! I also use VSCO Cam, PicTapGo and Mextures regularly. I've downloaded lots of other apps, more than a few gleaned from you, but the choices can overwhelm me, so I tend to rely on my tried and true. I did just download the Diana app though, and so playing around with that a bit.
Have you ever sold or exhibited your work? If not, any plans for the future? (I'm thinking greeting cards!)
CL: No. People have asked, but for now, I'm just doing them for the enjoyment of it. I have made cards for my own use, such as holiday and birthday cards, plus I collaborated on wedding invitations for both my daughter's wedding and a friend of hers (I did some pen/ink and water color designs, including maps...loved doing the maps!). So, while no immediate plans, it is something in the back of my mind.
Have you ever entered any photo competitions?
Is there any area of mobile photography you would like to explore that you haven't yet tried?
CL: I'm completely in awe of all of the incredible photographers on Instagram who have not only mastered their mobile phone cameras, but also utilize apps so creatively! I really appreciate your anatomy of an edit videos too and hope you keep doing them (by the way, how DO you get the erase app to work?!) I'm drawn to photo collages & photos utilizing multiple images, so that is something I'd really like to explore. And people, I hope to take more photos of people!
(Geri's Note: I use Sketch Club or Union for erasing parts of images and layering them. Other good options are Superimpose and Juxtaposer. There are more but these are the ones that come to mind. I like Sketch Club because you cannot only zoom in super close, you can also rotate the image which makes it easier to erase. The only challenge is there is no masking ability so once you erase part of an image you can't paint it back.)
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
CL: Thanks so much for including me in your interview series Geri. Initially I was a bit intimidated by the idea, as I'm such an amateur. So thanks for your encouragement, and...I really did enjoy doing this! And now, I'm excited to go back and pour over your previous interviews...some truly mind-blowing talent....can't wait to learn some more, get inspired some more, oh, and download some more editing apps! Isn't Instagram incredible?!
Find Cheryl: Instagram