This morning I’m thrilled to share with you some exciting news. I have the special honor of starting this week off with a spectacular introduction all done in Mobile Monday fashion! Today we welcome three new muses into our fold! Three incredibly talented women who I know you will fall in love with as quickly as I did. In fact you may be big fans of these accomplished women already, since all three have been guests here on Mortal Muses. I have felt a deep connection with not only their photography, but their outlook on life, and I have a feeling you will too! I thought a fun way to introduce our new muses would be to share a special Three of Me Mobile Monday edition where each of our muses submits a mobile self-portrait and answers a related question.

Our first new muse, Nikki Gardner, comes to us by way of Western Massachusetts and is the voice behind the food and photography blog Art & Lemons. With a love for all things photography be it mobile, digital or film, Nikki will have your mouth watering with her recipes, your heart fluttering over  her expertise in film and your mind wondering how you can see the world through her eyes just for one day. Nikki & I struck up a conversation after she wrote a guest post here on Mortal Muses about our love for collaboration, so I couldn’t be more thrilled (and a little in awe) that here we are, just a few months later collaborating together!

Nikki_selfie1365.1.4.13 make-up room) 365.1.3.13 (self-portrait)

How long have you been taking self-portraits and what draws you to use yourself as the subject?
I made my first self-portrait in a black and white photography class in college. It wasn’t an assignment rather I wanted to explore the idea of persona and how we present ourselves in public verses private spaces. At the time, I was influenced by a number of photographers who used themselves as subjects in their work, including: Cindy Sherman, Francesca Woodman, and Sophie Calle. I grew interested in how each of these artists depicted themselves in front of and behind the lens.

I first met our next muse, Vanessa Simpson, almost three years ago while diving into the art of self-portraiture. I’ve always been a little bit in enamored of her ability to seek balance in her ever-changing world. Who am I kidding? Enamored doesn’t cover it! Watching this woman’s quest of self-exploration through the eyes of her lens over the past three years on flickr and through her blog, 2nd Spring, has been an exhilarating and learning experience. As our first guest for our 4 in 24 feature, you were introduced to her love of film, but you will soon see that she is just as devoted to mobile and digital photography as well.

Vanessa1 Vanessa3 Vanessa4

A lot of your self-portraits are taken with your iPhone. Do you have any favorite apps or processing tips that you can share with our community? And how has the ability to share on Instagram influenced your work?
I do take a lot of my self portraits with my iphone, there is something about the ease, quickness and sometimes sneaky freedom that my little camera gives that I love. It is an interesting contrast to the work I am doing in my 365 this year. I have made a rule that my images for my 365 have to be from my dslr, but I usually wind up taking at least one selfie with my phone every day as well.

There are so many photography apps out there. I have added and played with several, some I have discarded, others I use on a regular basis. When I am processing my shots I usually mix things up utilizing multiple apps and pulling from the effects and abilities in each one. I love the randomness of Hipstamatic, but I often don’t stop there with my images. I often throw the image into Afterlight (formerly Afterglow) or PicTapGo for enhancing or cropping (I am still warming up to PicTapGo, at this point, Afterlight is my go to editing tool). I enjoy the way I can make ink-blot style dyptics with the Pic Frame app. By completely eliminating the surrounding frames, flipping and turning my images this way and that, I can make something that often makes my viewers think and have to really look at the image, I like that. I truly have a love hate relationship with the Decim8 app. It can be true to its name and totally destroy the image with randomness, but it also creates some really beautiful and interesting adjustments, the trick is to save any version that you like before hitting the mixer button again. When using decim8 I use one effect at a time; bunker, beamrider, tribomb and xexox are the effects I play with most often. I recently found InstaBlend for making my double exposures and I couldn’t be happier with the control it allows over placement, blending, brightness, and contrast of the two images.If I am going to add text to an image I use Phonto, but I am waiting patiently for the release of the Beautiful Mess app…

Instagram has such a great community. It feels like the way flickr felt several years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I still love me some flickr time, but the ability to instantly share my photos has me hooked. My work has definitely been influenced from the users I have found on IG. I find myself seeing the everyday in new and beautiful ways. For instance, I see abstract patterns on walls and windows because of a contact in New England, I catch myself noticing the beauty in strangers on the street because of a friend in Indiana, and am challenged by the daily/weekly themes that help keep my creativity flowing and inspiration jumping.

Our final new muse comes to us from sunny Portugal where she documents her world through a plethora of cameras. Film, digital, mobile…this home-schooling mama loves them all! My introduction to Vanessa Snow came by way of her flickr stream where I fell in love with her intriguing self-portraits and refreshing view of life. Shortly thereafter I came across an exciting project she’d created inviting Van to be our guest where I introduced you to The Treehouse (with mustard) Club, a monthly set of prompts she created for anyone to join at any time. She also shares her unique perspective on her blog Snow in Autumn. Van’s artistic soul will soon have you too wondering where she will point one of her many cameras next.

imagevan_selfie2 van_selfie3

Where does your inspiration come from? Do you plan your shots ahead of time? Share your process with us?
Words, sounds and feelings. That sounds a little vast for an answer but imagine if you could see sounds and feelings, everything would inspire you! I don’t write down lyrics or quotes, I take pictures as I see them and later I add words to it. But sometimes I see something that has me itching to get my camera or get home and prepare an environment. It could be a music video, words from a book or a feeling kept so deep inside screaming to come out.

Be aware. That’s my advice. There are messages everywhere, you just have to read them and trust your feelings. Yes, people will stare if you kneel down in the middle of the street to take a picture of a flower blooming from the sidewalk. And that tiny brave plant growing under the slide at the park? Yes, you should go there and take a picture of it. If the big outdoors scare you, as far as self portraits go, don’t let that stop you. Find a cozy place in your home, with good natural light and click away. Self portraiture is an amazing journey and being shy should not be something that stops you. In fact, it’s lesson number one: Accept who you are. Only then can you find your voice, and that’s when the path becomes clear.

We couldn’t be more thrilled here at Mortal Muses to have all three of these talented women joining us and are proud to introduce them today as our new muses! Our love of different photographic perspectives has led us to expand our numbers while hopefully expanding our community’s view on our mutual quest exploring all things photography.  Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Nikki, Vanessa and Van here on the site!

Holly ~ Soupatraveler