Elise Swopes: Reimagining the World One City at a Time

Elise Swopes

Elise Swopes: Reimagining the World One City at a Time

How do you describe yourself?

I’m a visual storyteller specializing in mobile photography and design. Currently living in New York, but I’m from Chicago. 

How would you describe your art?

Surreal and imaginative. I love to have fun with color, competition, and cityscapes. But I dabble in 3D, video, and illustration.

What was the motivation behind your decision to begin working in photography?

I signed up for Instagram in 2011, I would share selfies and photos of my food, but I eventually got an iPhone 4 that inspired me to take pictures and edit them in unique ways. There was a fun community of creators on Instagram that welcomed me with open arms, so through time, I just made it my own.

Mobile is central to your work. I love that you shoot on an iPhone. Can you talk a bit about that?

I don’t edit on an iPad too much. That’s because Photoshop doesn’t have an iPhone app yet. If it were up to me, I would edit on my phone all the time. I began editing on my phone because that’s all I had. I didn’t have money for a laptop or an excellent camera. I had free apps and a free platform that allowed me to share myself without limitations. Not much has changed! Haha 

How is it different from shooting with a “camera?” 

It’s a lot simpler, that’s for sure. It’s always available and takes up less space. It has programs within it and the opportunity to switch between communicating with people or editing. It’s everything in one!

There’s something accessible about working with the iPhone. There are some that may think that a level of proficiency isn’t required. How would you respond to that?

It depends on the person- it’s not for everyone, but I think anyone can use an iPhone as a tool with consistency and intention. I’ve been able to travel the world and change not only my own life but the lives around me. There’s something powerful there. My main goal is to show people what I do, and maybe they can use it to their advantage.

So do you always shoot with the latest model iPhone?


Can you talk about your process? How do you come up with ideas on what to shoot?

It depends. Sometimes I’m very intentional, and sometimes it’s random. I like helicopter rides and exploring city streets every once to “collect” photos to edit over some time. I don’t want to go out and shoot too often because I can work with what I have. But it does depend on the weather – the worse the weather, the more I want to be out to capture content.

What is it about cities that inspire you? Are there specific cities that are better for you to shoot in?

Chicago is the most beautiful city in the world.

What are some of the brands you’ve worked with?

Adobe, Apple, Adidas, National Geographic, Patron, American Music Awards, Uniqlo, Logitech, Sony, American Express, and many more.

I know you work with PhotoShop, but do you work with any other software during the editing process?

Many! I list them all on my website Swopes.info/tutorials

Can you speak about your partnership with Adobe? How did that come about?

We’ve been working together since 2014, maybe? I’m not sure lol but it’s been a while. I’m pretty sure it happened through email, which is where a majority of my projects begin.

What advice would you give to other NFT artists hoping to collaborate with brands?

Just keep sharing and creating! Most of my projects have come from people looking through my Instagram and sending me an email. Email is essential so have one that makes sense and is easy to spell. Have a website. And be yourself. Kindness will take you far.

What would you say to others that are considering working with the iPhone?

There will be a lot of limitations. Not everything is up to par yet when it comes to creating with the phone, but it’s getting there. There are so many new video editing apps that allow for masking, which is so unheard of. And then hopefully, photoshop makes an iPhone app! 

Talk about the significance of the giraffes in your work.

They started as just another animal in my edits. I would add elephants, monkeys, and wolves. But as time went on, people would ask me where the giraffe was, so I kept editing it! But I did start to realize it fit in cityscapes well. The contrast of a tall yellow creature against brick or stone is a beautiful sight.

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