“NEW HAVEN — The dining room at Christopher Martins Restaurant is megapixels brighter and more interesting than it was before Mike Ross’ iPhone photographs graced the walls.
Ross, a former photojournalist and now owner of Ross Imaging and Mike A. Ross Photography in Hamden, has spontaneous fun with the iPhone like many others do, because it’s always with him. Also like millions of others, he likes that he can easily pop an image onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
But his is no ordinary eye.
‘I’m never trying to say an iPhone is better than a digital SLR. … I’d never go to a job with an iPhone,’ he said. But, ‘I like the fun of it.’
For many years, while not on the job, Ross carried around a big, single lens reflex camera so he could grab an interesting image whether at a concert at Toad’s Place or hanging out with friends.
Then the iPhone came along and, unlike other small cameras, the quality was finally good enough for him.
Ross uses apps and textures to enhance his iPhone shots, and his works hanging in the restaurant are nicely framed and on museum-quality fine art paper.
Ross has used his iPhone to catch images of friends and performers at the Gathering of the Vibes concert in Bridgeport, and two years ago, while visiting China with his wife, Nicole Pollard, Ross used it to take pictures in Tiananmen Square.
But still, it’s hard to believe his images — sometimes moving, sometimes whimsical — came out of an iPhone. The restaurant exhibit is eye-catching, uplifting and diverse.
‘I like his photographs in general. … I like his composition, his color use,’ said area artist Liz Pagano, who coordinates exhibits of many mediums for Christopher Martins.
The exhibits change every few months.
She especially likes Ross’ use of Instagram.
Christopher Martins co-owner Brian Virtue said he’s had a lot of great feedback on the exhibit, and said when he tells people the pictures were taken with an iPhone, their response is usually, ‘Really?’
‘I love it,’ Virtue said of the exhibit, noting the brightness is nice for summer. ‘It’s one of our most talked about exhibits.’
In this exhibit, Ross captured an image of the perfectly waving American flag against a blue sky when he ran to Home Depot.
One of the pictures in his show is of an interesting parking booth key hanging board that he spotted while doing a job at Union League Cafe.
Another is the cool shadow of his grandmother coming back from church in New Haven, along with the shadow of a cat she feeds.
There is a picture of an ice cream truck driver on his cellphone that Ross took while walking his dog in East Rock Park.
Also featured in the display are a person walking with balloons, an old car covered in overgrown weeds, the shins and feet of a sitting young child wearing Crocs, a person dancing, birds flying over Atlantic City, a shopping cart sign he spotted while at Walmart.
‘The iPhone is awesome,’ Ross said.
Ross, 42, is the son of a successful career photographer and so, growing up, there was always a camera within reach. He got to visit many interesting places with his dad, but as a youngster didn’t especially like taking pictures.
After high school, he spent 10 years as a cruise ship photographer. He got to see interesting parts of the world, including Cuba, Scandinavia, South America and Europe, and said that, in a sense, he felt like a photojournalist every time the ship reached port.
He wanted eventually to move beyond cruise ships, and returned to land in 1999, enrolling at Paier College of Art in Hamden. Shortly after his return, Ross began work as a photojournalist for the Waterbury Republican-American before taking a job at the Connecticut Post, where he stayed for five years before moving on to the Meriden Record-Journal.
As the forecast for newspapers grew cloudier, Ross decided some seven years ago to go on his own as a freelance photojournalist, as well as a wedding and commercial photographer.
He used the iPhone for playful stuff and popped the images onto social media sites, where they caught Pagano’s eye.
Recognizing that others, too, are documenting important moments in life with their iPhones, Androids and Blackberrys, Ross even has a Smartphone Center in his store, where everyday photographers can learn how to get the most out of the medium.
‘They’re getting better and better,’ Ross said of smartphone cameras.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the New Haven Register, “Professional photographer finds iPhone a fun way to capture a moment,” by Pamela McLoughlin, Saturday, August, 18, 2012. (top) “New Haven — Local photographer Mike Ross takes a picture of the crowd during the opening of ‘Iphoneography,’ a photography show of his work taken with an Iphone camera-phone. The show, which was held at Christopher Martin’s restaurant, is showing until September. Ross lives in Hamden.” Image courtesy of the New Haven Register, “Professional photographer finds iPhone a fun way to capture a moment,” photograph by Peter Casolino, August 18, 2012