Some people ignore the iPhone as a serious tool for photography. Some praise it for being the camera that you always have with you. We all know that the best camera is indeed the one that’s there when you need it.
The truth, in my humble opinion, is somewhere in the middle. It’s entirely possible to shoot eye-catching photos with it on the go – making it particularly useful for street and travel photography. Professional work, of course, is rarely done on iPhones.
To get the most out of your iPhone’s camera, you’ll need some kind of education. Fortunately, there’s a website and a course for exactly that. Today, I’m reviewing iPhone Photo Academy by iPhone Photography School. Read on to find out if it lives up to the surrounding hype.
iPhone Photo Academy is a fantastic introduction to photography for those who have just started taking images with their iPhones.
It’s primarily made for them – but not solely. It’s a great source for knowledge for more advanced photographers, too.
It’s a huge course, with many hours of valuable content.
Who is it For?
As I mentioned, the iPhone is a particularly great tool for travel and street photographers. It’s small, discreet, provides fairly good image quality and enough resolution. Newer models also feature two, or even three lenses, essentially covering a wide-to-standard zoom range.
But the applications don’t stop at those two niches: iPhones are fairly good performers in still and landscape situations, too.
If you find yourself shooting these photos with your phone, you might consider iPhone Photo Academy.
So, what will you find in it?
- 1. The Essentials of iPhone Camera (7 lessons, 40 minutes)
- 2. Additional iPhone Camera Features (10 lessons, 90m)
- 3. Simple Editing Techniques for Color and Exposure (5 l., 70m)
- 4. The Principles Of Great Photography (7 l., ca. 85m)
- 5. Creative iPhone Photography Techniques (5 l., ca. 55m)
- 6. Common iPhone Photography Scenarios (6 l., ca. 80m)
- 7. Technical iPhone Photography (6 l., ca. 50m)
- 8. Bonus: How to Preserve The Quality Of Your Photos (5 l., ca. 55m)
- 9. Bonus: Secrets for Managing a Huge Photo Library (5 l., ca. 70m)
- 10. Photo Analysis (7 long videos, ca. 8 hours)
- 11. Help Section (2 l., ca. 13m)
As you can probably see, this is a fully-fledged photography course, but it’s focused on iPhone users.
You can get this course for $99. This is a fairly standard price for beginner photography courses, with which this one shows plenty of common traits.
About the Creators
The course is produced by iPhone Photography School, a team of photography educators from Riga, Latvia. Consequently, most of it is shot in Riga, a beautiful, historic location. It’s presented by Emil Pakarklis, the founder of iPS.
His style is friendly and welcoming, albeit he speaks a bit too slowly . Thankfully, there’s an option to set a 1.25x playback speed in the video player on the site.
What I Loved
Attention to Detail
Even though the iPhone Photo Academy is mainly made for beginners, there are very few inaccurate, or missing details from a technical standpoint. This is a mistake many others commit, and I’m very pleased to see that it’s not an issue here.
For example, resolution and compression, which are very technical topics, are perfectly understandable from Emil’s presentation. Yet, the videos don’t sacrifice precision for better understandability.
We can find pretty much every component of a good beginner course in iPhone Photo Academy. You’ll learn how your camera (iPhone, in this case) works, how light works, composition, various techniques for common scenarios, and editing.
It’s all fitted in a long, but also dense, concise and logically built course.
Video and sound quality are almost flawless. The course is fantastically shot and edited, it’s a pleasure to watch.
There are a few weird things, though. Some videos are shot in a vertical format instead of a traditional horizontal one. This doesn’t bring along quality issues, but such videos are not well suited for viewing on a computer.
The audio mix could’ve been better at a few places.
It might have caught your attention that there’s a bonus module called Photo Analysis. It’s longer than all the other modules combined. I didn’t watch it entirely, only the first chapter, and had a sneak peek into the others.
These chapters consist of Emil reviewing and critiquing iPhone photos. They are best consumed through a long period of time, to let them settle properly.
The reason for this is that they teach taste. This is a hard thing to do, and while I don’t always agree with Emil’s points, I think he’s successful in doing so.
I highly recommend watching at least some of these videos. You’ll develop a critical eye, which is beneficial for both improving your own work, and seeing others’ work in a new perspective.
At the end of each chapter, you’ll find a summary of its contents. These are fantastic for quickly searching through them, especially if you’re just coming back to recap.
These summaries are brief but don’t miss key details.
Community and Support
iPhone Photography School has an amazing, worldwide community. There’s an option to leave comments on the episodes of the course – the first one has more than 40.000 of them. This is several multitudes larger than I’ve ever seen.
They also have a huge Facebook group, with booming student activity and involvement. Finding inspiration here is easy and advised.
There are challenges in some chapters that you’re welcome to complete and upload the results to the group. You can then ask for constructive criticism, and also give it to others.
Customer support also seems to be good. Staff react to questions quickly in both the comment section of the website and on Facebook.
Technical iPhone Photography
I love this chapter, especially the long exposure episode of it.
Areas to Improve
Constant Use of a Tripod
In many episodes, Emil uses his tripod for taking iPhone photos. But let’s face reality. Many of us don’t choose to shoot with their iPhone because they couldn’t shoot with a camera, but rather because it’s small and portable.
Keeping a tripod with you is not in line with this.
In my opinion, it would’ve made sense to include fewer chapters with a tripod, and maybe more about holding the phone correctly in challenging situations. There is one chapter about that, but it’s not a particularly long one.
Nothing Really New for Photographers
If you’re coming to iPhone photography as a skilled photographer, you might not find a whole lot of new information in this course.
It’s a fantastic choice for those who are starting out with their iPhones – but as an experienced photographer, I wouldn’t buy it for myself.
There are no alternatives I know about – please let me know in the comments if you’ve found one!
iPhone Photo Academy is a unique and well-rounded course for a niche that’s surprisingly large. Its price is much worth it if you have plans with doing photography on your iPhone.
You’ll find everything in it that you’d find in an introductory course, but it’s all specialised for the iPhone’s camera, interface, features and handling. Its production value, despite minor errors, is immense. In many aspects, this course is among the best out there.
To standardise and compare our product reviews, we’ve decided to use a scored-based ranking system. To learn more about interpreting these numbers and how other courses measure, please visit our review roundup page here.
|Value for Money (20)||14|
|Ease of Learning (15)||13|
|Production Value (15)||14|
|Community and Learning Support (5)||5|