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A couple of years ago, mobiographer Erica “Spin” Simas moved from Florida to Seattle in search of experiences worth documenting on camera. Erica is a creative and a storyteller. She blends analog with digital and mobile photography, and recently launched a remote career with Moment, a company working on turning mobile phones into better cameras.
Learn more about Erica’s journey with mobiography below.
I loved photography because my grandfather did, and anything he enjoyed, I did, too. When I got older, he always spoke about wanting to get a better camera, so I then, too, wanted to get a better camera and really step outside just shooting on disposables. I was determined to learn to shoot manually, too. Eventually, I started to do small gigs, weddings, couples, portraits, food, etc.
I moved to Seattle in 2013, about a year after I had been playing around with Instagram. I got settled in my new home, and made friends by going to “Instameets”. Eventually, I got involved with the community here and got to know a lot of crazily talented individuals. From there, it’s pretty much all history. I wanted to shoot on Moment and share about how you didn’t need a fancy camera to take beautiful photos.
Moment sells accessories to help mobile photographers: currently we offer a Wide, Tele, Macro, Superfish (Fisheye) lenses and cases for your phone that really turn your phone into more of a camera. They also sell lanyard attachments for the cases, which make carrying it around so convenient and truly give you that camera feel. In addition to these items, they carry a convenient lenspen to clean your lenses, travel cases, and other accessories for your lenses. For those who don’t know, Moment was crowdfunded on Kickstarter, which makes its success really special.
We are all picture takers, now more than ever, and most of us do that with our phones. I can’t wait to see how we continue to grow with the evolution of smartphones and photography.
In my view, the growth of mobiography is incredible and not negative. Like anything things evolve, even we as humans have evolved. How could we not expect phones to evolve? I bet no one back in the early 80’s would’ve imagined a grey brick to have a camera in it, but yet here we are, and it does. In the early 2000’s, it was super expensive to buy a 1GB memory card, but now we can buy 128GB for the same price.
You can choose what you want to get out of photography. If you are looking for fast satisfaction and results, mobile photography is the way to go. It doesn’t mean it’s for everyone, but you can’t argue about the probability that everyone will use it at some point in their life.
I felt like I learned how to shoot with digital, but learned how to appreciate photography as an art with film. Film taught me to slow down, because you have to make every frame count. Especially when each shot will cost you about $.25 (and that’s on the cheaper side of things). You also really need to understand light, composition, mechanics, shadows, and timing. There isn’t a hold-the-shutter-down-and-pray-you-got-the-shot. You better have gotten the shot!
After learning digital and film, you would think that shooting mobile is easy, right? It is, but now you can apply everything I mentioned above to mobile photography. Because you still get to compose, see light, notice shadows, reflections, people in the streets, and you still need to learn the mechanics of a phone. So in many ways, our phones act like traditional cameras, or digital cameras, out there. They allow you to adjust brightness, select focus, etc, which are all things I learned way before with film.
I hope to focus more on portraiture and street photography. I think each person holds their own story since each person is unique in their own way. It doesn’t matter if we buy clothes at the same stores, accessorize the same way or even have a similar tattoo. We each have a unique perspective on life, and I think all of that can be portrayed in a photograph.
Secondly, I wish to make a book soon. I’ve just been compiling images from my street work in the hopes of making a street photography book, one day, that will be shared across many coffee tables and book shelves. I also had a strong love for English in school and kept many journals growing up. I guess you can say it was my outlet before photos, so it would be nice to bring those two elements together.
Whatever makes you feel great and truly fuels your passion for making you go out and shoot, that is what you should stick to when shooting! If you don’t feel like waking up at 4:30 in the morning to go out on a hike to capture the sunrise over the mountains, then maybe you would not enjoy landscape photography. If you don’t like wandering downtown streets, aimlessly at times, patiently waiting for a shot to happen, then you probably won’t like street photography. If you don’t like dealing with pressure, and portraiture, then you probably wouldn’t want to shoot weddings. It all boils down to, “what are you most willing to sacrifice for?”
You also need to try different things at first. You’ll never know what kind of photography you really like unless you try it. When the butterflies come, then you’ll know. It’s pretty much how I determine what I want to shoot and share. What draws my attention to this subject? How does it make me feel? Do I feel passionate about it? Our tastes are constantly changing and evolving. Perhaps something we didn’t see there before now catches our attention.
When I am lacking inspiration, I try to invest in a different medium. I look at art, listen to music, study fashion, languages, cuisine, cultures, etc. I find inspiration from the simplest of things sometimes, and think to myself, “this would be a cool series” or “this would be cool in a photograph.” Things to that effect.
I also like to sketch. It teaches me about color placement and development, which really helps in photography. Those colors will stand out to me in the real world. They catch my attention even more so when I am out and about, scouting locations and such.
If you are ever feeling a lack of inspiration, have a conversation with another creative. It doesn’t have to be another photographer per se, but I assure you: If you find someone who is passionate about something, they will spark your motivation to get back out there and achieve your dreams.