Here’s How To Snap Award-Winning Pics With Your iPhone [Interview]


2008 IPPA winner Michael Hopkins.
2008 IPPA winner Michael Hopkins.

In the five years since the iPhone Photography Awards (IPPA) launched, the iPhone camera has gone from disappointing to out-snapping Nikon as the most popular camera on Flickr.

As the March 31 deadline for this year’s award approaches, IPPA founder Kenan Aktulun talks to Cult of Mac about his favorite pics, the distinction between good and great iPhone photos and why apps may not help you create them.

Claire Droppert's entry in the 2012 IPPA contest.

Cult of Mac: What’s your favorite iPhone photo of the moment and why? What apps do you most frequently use?

Kenan Aktulun: One of my favorite shots of the moment is a shot by Claire Droppert (see above). It’s one of this year’s submissions from Holland. I like the simplicity and the beauty of it. When you look at it you don’t think about the camera, the app or the tools behind it.

I really don’t use many apps although I have almost every iPhone photography app available on my iPhone. I like the apps that create DOF (Depth of Field) however.

CoM: What are the biggest rookie mistakes when shooting with an iPhone?

KA: Gratuitous use of iPhone processing apps.

CoM: What qualities distinguish a good iPhone photo from a great one?

KA: A great iPhone shot is usually the one that captures a moment in time with pure simplicity. A great snap usually has more to it than what you see in the picture. It invites viewer’s participation and helps user complete the picture. Of course, a great well-balanced composition makes big difference.

CoM: What changes have you seen in iPhone photography since you started the contest five years ago? Are those changes due improvements in the iPhone camera or the proliferation of apps or both?

KA: Of course, the digital resolution and use of apps are the biggest changes since the first IPPA five years ago. But that didn’t necessarily improve the quality of the pictures. The winner of the 2008 IPPA (see main story image) is still one of my favorite shots and it was taken with the first iPhone.

CoM: The great thing about an iPhone camera is that you always have it with you, but the camera itself is limited compared to a DSLR. What should people be looking to for to take less obvious shots?

KA: You’re not carrying an iPhone because you’re taking pictures. One of the great things about the iPhone camera is that when you see and feel a moment that triggers an emotion it’s there with you. And you capture that. The biggest difference is that you don’t take a picture because you have the iPhone, you feel the moment and it happens to be with you.

CoM: The contest allows the use of apps to alter photos but not Photoshop – what’s the reasoning behind the rule?

KA: Most apps help you to alter the photo during or right after when you still can feel the shot. So it’s very different than opening in Photoshop later when the magic of the moment is a distant and you try to make something different. To me that defeats the whole purpose of it and takes away what’s wonderful about iPhone photography.