BND Magazine

July 27, 2014

When iPhone photography called, Belleville teen answered

Eighteen-year old Nic Tullis, of Belleville, has turned his fascination with iPhone photography into an art form.

His "Focus on St. Louis" photo won the American Frame and Gallery Award from the Gateway East Artists Guild on July 20 at the "Gateway To Art Exhibition & Art Sale." It was also selected as part of the "City at 250" exhibit at at The Sheldon Art Gallery celebrating St. Louis' 250th birthday.

"Focus on St. Louis" is a black-and-white photo depicting the Gateway Arch in the center of a small macro lens. Nic took the photo from Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis.

The 2014 Belleville West graduate is the son of Erin Kathleen Quinn and has twin 10-year-old sisters, Madison and Melissa Hagarty.

How did you get started in photography?

"I saw a TV commercial by Apple that showed apps for Instagram. I downloaded it, started taking photos with my phone and posting them on Instagram.

"At first I took snow pictures in my yard, then on the streets of Belleville. Then I started taking people and I thought, 'Whoa, maybe I should get a better camera and a new lens.'"

He did -- a Cannon XTi. But he takes most of his photos with his iPhone 4S, and edits all of his images on his phone.

Favorite subjects: "People. Especially homeless people. I have a Kickstarter to fund a gallery show that would benefit homeless shelters."

Favorite photo: "The one of the Arch. It got the most attention. I got the idea on Instagram, with the lens in the photo. But I hadn't seen anyone do it with the Arch."

The photo earned you a TV interview on KSDK. How did that go? "It was fun but terrifying."

Your goal is making a career out of photography and traveling the world shooting photos. How will you get there? "I'm not concerned about getting from point A to point B as long as I get there."

Next step: "Taking Internet courses at Full Sail University to learn how to write, develop and market smartphone applications ."

Have you sold any photographs? "Yes, quite a few." Prices range from $25 to $150. "I have a special now for 8x8 prints for $25."

Where can people see Nic's photographs? He is a regular contributor to and Straight Up Magazine. The "Gateway To Art Exhibition & Art Sale" is on display though Aug. 15 at the National Shine of Our Lady of the Snows. And you can see more of his work online at and on Facebook.

What are your other interests? "I enjoy collecting Jordan basketball shoes, watching and playing basketball (I am a big L.A. Clippers fan.), video games, and spending time with my cat -- a Russian Blue named Chuck (after Charles Barkley).

-- Patrick Kuhl

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