With every model update, the iPhone camera gets better and better. The iPhone Photo Academy by iPhone Photography School is there to help you get the most out of your iPhone camera. The software can go a long way to compensate for our shortcomings as we take the photos. But the full power of the Cupertino cameras is only realized if we really understand them.
So, how does the iPhone Academy fare in its quest to make our iPhone pictures even better? This review looks at the course content, its delivery, what it does well, and where it might improve. Read on to see if this course could bring out the best in your iPhone photography!
[ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]
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 of 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 (8 lessons, 105 minutes)
- 2. Additional iPhone Camera Features (8 lessons, 113 minutes)
- 3. The Principles Of Great Photography (8 l., ca. 130m)
- 4. Creative iPhone Photography Techniques (8 l., ca. 114m)
- 5. Common iPhone Photography Scenarios (11 l., ca. 159m)
- 6. Bonus: How to Preserve The Quality Of Your Photos (5 l., ca. 55m)
- 7. Bonus: Secrets for Managing a Huge Photo Library (5 l., ca. 70m)
- 8. Photo Analysis (7 long videos, ca. 8 hours)
As you can probably see, this is a fully-fledged photography course, but it’s focused on iPhone users.
At a total length of roughly 20 hours, it’s the longest I’ve reviewed so far.
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, in my opinion. That’s why I chose the option to set a 1.25x playback speed in.
Emil is very good at teaching in a brief, meaningful way.
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 in 4K quality, it’s a pleasure to watch.
The course has also been re-shot and updated in 2021 to reflect the evolving technology of the iPhone cameras.
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 reacts to questions quickly in both the comment section of the website and on Facebook.
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 our iPhone because we 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 to do photography on your iPhone.
You’ll find everything in it that you’d find in an introductory course, but it’s all specialized 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.