Embracing the Smartphone With Andrea Gulickx.

June 2020, By Andy Butler.

Andrea Gulickx is a photographer from the Netherlands who has embraced the versatility that the smartphone offers and has been sharing her photographic passion through Instagram and the workshops that she runs at various locations around the world.

Her portfolio of images is a beautiful mixture of nature, macro, urban and abstract imagery. In her photos, Andrea makes excellent use of elements such as light, blur, patterns and symmetry to create some interesting and, at times, abstract images.

Andrea has regularly been featured in Mobiography’s weekly hashtag challenges, so I wanted to find out more about her approach, her work and the workshops that she runs, and see what drives her passion for taking photos with her smartphone.

To start with, tell us a bit about your photographic journey and how you first discovered smartphone photography.

Before I became a nature photographer, I worked in the fashion industry as a freelance designer for children’s clothing. Artwork and patterns were my specialties. In 2007, I started doing photography alongside my fashion work. Then, in 2012, I turned it into a business. I began by giving macro photography workshops, and in 2015, I stopped doing fashion work and became a full-time photographer.

As a creative person, I need a new challenge every two or three years. So, after the macro photography workshops, I started getting creative with Lensbaby lenses from the U.S. and added these to my workshop program.

Macro photography has always been a passion of mine. I’m an autodidact photographer who works from the heart. I never follow the rules, only my intuition, and I love to experiment.

Landscape photography was a logical next step for me, playing with abstract landscaping using the intentional camera movement (ICM) technique.

In 2017, I published my book De Waal Bewogen with abstract landscape images of the river Waal, which flows close to my home. I used ICM as well as multiple exposure in-camera techniques. I’m not really a project person, but this book is an exception and took me two years to complete.

I then realized I started to miss the graphical part of my old work, the graphic lines and shapes. During a city trip where I was using my iPhone as a camera, I discovered the exciting graphical possibilities of urban photography. I was hooked!

In 2018, I started giving smartphone photography workshops in the cities of Rotterdam, Arnhem, Eindhoven and Amsterdam. I loved it so much that I added Lensbaby to the city workshops.

Furthermore, I now speak at photography seminars and do photoshoots for magazines. Last year, I was invited by Jackie Kramer to go to Alaska and Seattle to deliver my workshops on macro photography. It was an amazing experience for me.

What drives and inspires your interest in smartphone photography?

As much as I love to photograph with my DSLR camera, I shoot more pictures with my iPhone, as it’s always with me. I take photos with it every day, especially on holidays. I love to work with different perspectives, lines, shapes, light, shadow play and reflections.

With the smartphone, you can shoot fast and it’s lightweight. I love the HDR feature in the camera for landscaping. You don’t need filters. It’s so easy to work with and delivers great results, and the apps make it an even more fun and creative experience.

I used to want to shoot film, but my DSLR camera does not give me this ability. So, I started using my iPhone for filming and editing. This saved me from buying an expensive new camera and regretting it later. I do love it!

As a professional photographer, what do you find are the major differences between shooting with your DSLR and smartphone, and when do you prefer to use one over the other?

The lightweight and small size of the smartphone enables flexibility to try many different perspectives. It’s great for playing with light and seeing the results instantly. Working with my iPhone has made me even more creative and aware of my surroundings. I like the creativity and freedom smartphone apps provide. I don’t like to use Photoshop on a computer, and I’ve never done that with DSLR photos.

I use my iPhone when I’m in the city and out in nature and when I don’t want to carry a lot of equipment. For macro photography, I still prefer my DSLR.

Your Instagram feed is a mixture of distinct subjects and styles – macro, architecture, nature, landscape and abstract. What is it about these subjects that fascinate you so, and do you have a favorite?

I’m interested in many things, and it wasn’t my goal to create a beautiful feed. I simply like to share short stories of three pictures in one style or subject. The feed is about showing what you can do with the smartphone. As for my favorite subjects to shoot using the smartphone, I would have to say urban city and architecture are amongst my favorites.

Tell us about your approach to the way you compose and frame your photos.

I like wide-angled smartphone shots, especially in the city. When you hold your smartphone camera as close as you can against a wall, a glass surface or the ground, your shot will be more dynamic and surprising than when taken at eye-level. The distinct foreground will instantly pull you into the image. Symmetry can also make a shot very strong.

Also, try shooting through openings, like a hole in the wall, creating a natural frame for your subject. By placing small subjects in front of your lens, you create blurriness in the foreground; this gives your shot an extra dimension and added depth.

How important is light to you, and what do you think people should look for to capture good light?

Light, darkness and shadow-play are very important to me, as they are for every photographer, I think. It can make or break your photo. I like to create moody shots with more darkness by underexposing or create lighter shots by overexposing.

The combination of light and shadow is challenging for me. In cities, I’m always looking for shadows from buildings or from people. Having a hard backlight behind a subject creates interesting silhouettes.

With macro photography, I like to put my subject in the shade with the sun behind it. This results in softer colors and more depth in the shot. I use the macro smartphone lenses from Olloclip but also have a macro lens by Moment.

You mentioned your abstract landscaping with ICM. Tell us more about ICM, what it is, what sort of effects you get and how people can use this technique themselves.

With the ICM technique, I move my camera around with my hands while using a longer shutter speed. The effect is that it adds movement to your shot, giving it an abstract and dynamic look. In the daytime, you need to use filters; otherwise, your images will be overexposed easily. The outcome of the movement in your image depends greatly on how you move your camera around. You also need to pay attention to the shutter speed, so you have to experiment a lot with this. It’s not easy to get a shot that will please the eye instantly; you have to practice a lot. I like it because the outcome is always different and surprising.

What apps do you use to shoot and edit your photos? Is there a process or methodology that you apply to your post-production editing?

I don’t have a specific post-production editing process that I follow. Some images I don’t really edit at all. If I do, I use the native smartphone app or Snapseed. To me, it works the other way around.

I have a lot of apps on my phone that I hardly ever use. When I have some spare time, I may flick through apps I’m not familiar with and just start playing. It’s very random, not a plan at all, just experimenting.

Some of my favorite apps are Bluristic, the ICM app and AvgCamPro, which enables you to work with multi-exposure in-camera. I like to work with the double-exposure option in Snapseed and play with video apps like Into Live and Videoleap from Enlight.

A great app for symmetry is MRRW. It’s a built-in option you have to buy when you have the SKRWT app.

Tell us more about your workshops.

I give workshops in the cities of Arnhem, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Eindhoven, as well as in the botanical gardens of Utrecht. I start my smartphone workshops over coffee by explaining the possibilities of using different native phone apps. We then head out and start shooting in the beautiful railway stations these cities have. Each city has its own route that always ends back at the station.

During these tours, I show the participants what they can do with perspective, light, shadow-play and reflections in an urban environment.

Participants learn to look and photograph in a new way. We also work with two or three creative apps and use some fun tools that I only show and tell during the workshops.

The workshop participants can try smartphone lenses from Olloclip, and during the garden workshop, we work with macro lenses, too. You can find out more about the workshop program on my website www.andreagulickx-photography.nl

After these workshops, you’ll never walk in a city the way you did before; you will always be seeing new photo opportunities.

What is the greatest lesson you learned on your photographic journey?

I’ve learned to always follow your heart. Do whatever you like to do, take photos the way it suits you. You can learn from feedback, but don’t let it hold you back. Follow your passion. People may not understand what you are doing or won’t like your experiments, and that’s fine.

The Story Behind My Favorite Photos…

I don’t have favorite photos, but I do have photos that come to mind because of the learning experience or the special moments they were taken.


This picture is taken in Thailand at sunset. Normally, I prefer to take the shot from a higher angle so you can see the reflection of colors better on the water. But after many attempts, I decided to put my horizon with the silhouettes higher and make the water the most important subject in the frame. I love the shadows in the ripples and how the sun reflects in the water. This angle made the shot much more interesting to me.


In the summer of 2017, I experienced problems with my back. Photographing with a DSLR was not an option when we went on a holiday to Romania. I decided to take photos and to start filming with my smartphone instead. It was the best decision I made. I learned so much. During one of our walks in Boekarest, I discovered this tree on a bicycle lane. I’m always looking for hidden subjects. When you look close enough, you can see so much more than you see at first sight. A great imagination will help, too.


This shot was taken with the AvgCamPro app. This app enables you to take several pictures simultaneously and blends them into one shot (multi-exposure). You can set a shooting interval between the shots. The first shot is a close-up taken of the warnings sign with small lights in front of the moving walkway. The second shot is taken of the subway tunnel. The interval was seven seconds, so I had enough time to look for a nice frame.


I like this photo because it holds all elements I love in one shot: backlight with a silhouette, shadow and the reflection of an urban environment. I just love this mood.

Connect with Andrea Gulickx

Facebook | Instragram – @andreaiphonestories