Elise Swopes is a visual storyteller and iPhone artist based in Chicago. She got her start shooting on an iPhone in 2011 when she joined Instagram and began using a DSLR in 2015. She has since had her work featured in commercials and on billboards. Swopes inspires others by sharing her methods via her Swopes So Dope podcast, a tutorial video channel and the Swopes Note newsletter. She took a moment to answer 10 questions to give us some insight into her and her work.
1. Do you consider yourself a professional photographer or a hobbyist?
I consider myself a hobbyist only because there’s so much more to learn. I know there’s plenty of photographers out there who do more dangerous, serious work, and I’d never want to step on any toes.
2. How would you describe your photographic style?
My photography style is very surreal and imaginative. I like to fill empty space with unexpected objects and subjects.
3. Which photographic subjects do you focus on?
I focus mostly on landscapes and architecture. Sometimes I use myself as a subject.
4. Which photographers do you most admire?
I most admire anyone who has made a path for photographers like me to succeed. Cole Rise and trashhand are a few who really introduced me into the mobile photography community.
5. What inspires you creatively?
I’m inspired mostly by empty space. I tend to wonder what I can add to make something my own.
6. What are you working on at the moment? What’s next?
I’m working on a lot of personal projects. I’m in the process of a big move, so once that’s announced I feel like it will all make sense.
7. What is one of your favorite photographs you’ve made, and why?
One of my favorite photographs has to be an image of the middle of Chicago architecture with a waterfall flowing down the middle. It was one of those moments where I just kept playing around with a lot of different images and it came together so nicely. I think it just reminds me that if I just keep trying things out, I can find something that works. Patience is key.
8. What is your primary camera? Favorite lens? Go-to editing software?
My favorite lens is the 70-200mm and my second is the 24-70mm. I love shooting from far away and from above, so those lenses tend to help most. My camera is a Canon 5D Mark IV and an iPhone 11 Pro MAX and I edit everything with my iPhone using Lightroom Mobile and ArtStudio.
9. Which trends in photography excite you most?
Mobile photography and editing being on the rise and in focus for a lot of developers and big brands.
10. For you, what makes a compelling photograph?
When you can almost feel, hear, taste or smell it.
11. What’s a tip or bit of photography advice you wish you had when starting out?
Consistency is key. Self-care is key. Focus on what you use, not what you think you’ll use.
12. What motivates you or gets you out of a creative rut?
That every single day is a brand-new day of possibilities and opportunities to learn and grow.