Most of us in the iPhone photography world are familiar with the name Emil Pakarklis. Emil is the creator of the iPhone Photography School website and has impacted tens of thousands with his knowledge about this genre of photography. I'm pleased to have had a recent conversation with Emil about his site, his advice for iPhone photographers and his exciting new video course!
A lot of people are familiar with you and your role in the iPhone Photography community, but for those who aren't, please tell me how you got started with iPhone photography.
EP: I was always interested in photography because it was a way for me to express the creative side of my personality. And even though I had other cameras in the past, on most days they never left the shelf, and they were never there when I needed them the most.
All of that changed when I got iPhone 4S about two and a half years ago. All of a sudden I had a great camera with me wherever I go. I was hooked, and my passion for photography became stronger than ever before, though the results I was getting at first were somewhat disappointing.
When did you start the iPhone Photography School website?
EP: I started iPhone Photography School about two years ago when I was really determined to get better at iPhone photography myself. While there were several iPhone photography blogs at that time (most of which are no longer active), there weren’t any good resources for people who wanted to improve the quality of their photos, so I started to share what I was learning.
Of course, I had no idea how popular my hobby blog would eventually become. Today iPhone Photography School is read by about 270,000 people per month, and last month I hired an editor to further develop the iPhone Photography School community.
How did being a recommended user on Instagram boost your audience?
EP: The short answer would be rapidly. I have been a suggested user on two separate occasions, and each time I was getting about 1000 new followers per day. It was rewarding to be able to share my photos with so many new people, but at the same time the quality of followers I was getting was much lower than it would be from an audience grown organically.
Since I was featured relatively late when Instagram was already a huge social network, a lot of the followers that I was getting were not necessarily interested in my photography, and I was also getting a never-ending stream of “please follow me” type of comments.
If you’d like to check out my account, you can find it @iPhonePS on Instagram.
Your photo contests are extremely popular on EyeEm and the results are nothing short of amazing with all the fabulous work being entered. Why did you switch to the EyeEm forum from Instagram?
EP: Actually, there were three reasons for making the change.
The first reason was that EyeEm stores photos at a much higher resolution than Instagram, and as I was working to optimize iPhone Photography School for Retina displays, the resolution of Instagram photos was simply not sufficient to create a great photo viewing experience.
The second reason was that EyeEm accepts photos of all aspect ratios. While Instagram has made me love square compositions, not every photo should be a square, and I wanted to make sure that people could easily submit photos of all aspect ratios.
And finally, the average photo quality on EyeEm is much higher than it is on Instagram, and by making the move the average submission quality improved as well.
And now for the reason I really asked to interview you. You recently released a new video series showing people how to see the world through the eyes of an iPhoneographer. Please tell me a bit more about this course.
EP: My goal with these free videos is to show people how they can start seeing the world through the eyes of an iPhone photographer, and how this approach can greatly improve the quality of the photos that they take. These videos are getting great reviews, but I won’t be able to keep them free forever, so if you’re interested, you have to watch them before September 23.
I’m also in the process of releasing the second version of my iPhone Photo Academy training program, and the free videos are a preview of some of the techniques that people are going to learn in the full program, which will be the first course that’s fully updated for iOS 8.
As someone who has viewed your tutorials I know your teaching style is definitely clear, thorough, and moves at a pace that can be followed easily. Is this new course useful to seasoned iPhone photographers as well as beginners?
EP: The short answer is yes. Even though seasoned iPhone photographers might be familiar with some of the techniques that I talk about in my videos, they’re still going to pick up many golden nuggets between the things that they are already familiar with.
Some iPhone Photo Academy students are people whose work I really admire, and even though they have a lot of experience in photography, they still enjoy the course as it allows them to look at their own work though different eyes and get ideas that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
What is the single best advice you could give someone just starting on their iPhone photography journey?
EP: Focus on developing your creative vision and learning the fundamentals of photography.
I know that a lot of people are obsessed with apps, but chasing the latest and greatest app is not going to help you grow as a photographer. People always ask me what apps I use to take and edit my photos, but it’s never the apps that make my photos interesting.
People are often looking for a magic solution that will fix their problems overnight, but the truth is that there are no such quick fixes. You have to go through the learning process and develop your creative vision. There are no quick fixes that will instantly make your photos better.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
EP: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my work with the Art of Mob audience, and thank you for everything you’re doing for the mobile photography community!