Interview: Jussi Ulkuniemi (@skwii)

One of the most iconic and creative minds on Instagram, Jussi Ulkuniemi’s photos perplex, bamboozle, and delight. He took time out of his break-neck schedule to answer some of our questions:

When you’re not doing photography, where would we find you?
Well, right now, you’d either find me working with Adobe programs from behind 3 computer screens at the company’s office, or partying my way down the streets of Helsinki with my bass-booming headphones. Then again, where I’d really like to be found (if I wasn’t so busy) would be a small and lovely training space, practicing some groovy dance moves…!

Do you remember the first photo you ever took? What was your first camera?
Whoa… I think it was a toy camera of some sort.. We had gotten it for Christmas, a kind of a tiny polaroid-style camera that instantly developed an image in a size of a post stamp. It was a portrait of my parents, and well… To this day I have never seen a portrait as bad as that one. 🙂

How would you describe your style in three words?
Avant Garde Mofos!

If your portfolio had a soundtrack, it would be…
…a mix-tape of genres like New Rave and Chiptune.

What is a photo technique or rule that your regularly follow (or constantly break)?
What I love breaking is the perspective. Tilting the angle purposefully 45 degrees or so can sometimes create something worth watching. Or pick one line and make it horizontal at the cost of others, you get really interesting results. But still, I’m very strict when it comes to perspective. A well thought, precise perspective is often a start for a brilliant composition.

What’s the one iPhone photo app you can’t live without?
Filterstom and Juxtapose, totally. Everything you really need for editing (Especially the “curves” function) is there in one app: Filterstorm. Then there’s Juxtapose for unlimited ways of manipulating your pics and getting creative-crazy. Mixing photos together AKA juxtaposing really seems to be my all-time favorite way of spending time.

What else is in your virtual camera bag?
To this day I’ve gathered about a twenty photography apps worth mentioning. The newest one of interest is FrontView, which is an unique perspective shift application. Now I’ve finally found a way to really mimic the effects of a tilt-shift lens: first creating a small depth of field with TiltShiftGen, then shifting the horizontal lines properly with FrontView.

Did you upgrade to iOS5 as soon as it was released?
Yes, instantly. Love the new features! Everything is now smoother than ever, even the camera app opens faster. The only bad point in upgrading was the upgrading itself… something happened and all my apps, music and videos disappeared… Took some time before my dear phone got it’s identity back.

What aspects of photography are challenging for you?
Capturing facial expressions. Mostly the only time I feel satisfied is when I tell them to look as neutral as possible, as if without any expression. That’s a part of the reason why I love silhouettes and portraits with faces hidden. There’s too much information in a face, sometimes it absorbs focus out of everything else.

Your shots (and edits) are remarkably unique and creative. Where and how do you find inspiration? Do you ever get ‘photo-block’?

Thank you. I guess the inspirations come by looking around. Being aware and keeping your mind open for a chance to create. My inspirations are usually very irrational and on the moment, because I won’t stop to think it twice if I get a crazy idea of (almost!) any kind. And yes, photo-block… Those are hard times, especially if you are keen on updating your photoblog everyday… But I’m glad to have some quality stuff stored on my camera roll for the bad days.. 🙂 To be honest, I haven’t really had any good time for hobby photography for 2 months now.. (but still online and updating!)

Pick one of your favorites shots from your portfolio and tell us the story behind it.

This one was taken about six months ago in Florence. Me and my friend (in the pic, down there) were visiting the Giotto’s bell tower at about closing time. We had been gasping at the view from up there for about a twenty minutes until the caretaker told us to leave, the tower was closed. Just when we had started descending downstairs I noticed a small grid where you could see straight down through the floor. From there I saw a perfect opportunity! Quickly I told my friend to “Run!” downstairs and in a minute she had blasted through the crazy medieval spiral staircases. I began shouting my lungs out with posing orders but she didn’t hear a lot. I bet the whole Florence heard our conversation. We were lucky thought, the tower bell didn’t start thundering. Afterwards we smoothly escaped with a satisfying set of photos 🙂

You shoot most of your photography in Finland. If you could shoot any other locale in the world, where would it be, and why?

Italy I’d say. Most of my favorite shots I’ve taken there. The architecture and and warm, colorful blaze of the mediterranean sun…! Using my iphone 3GS wouldn’t be a problem there, hate the cold, long and dark Finnish winters, in an iphoneographical sense of course.

If someone told you, “I want to take photos like @skwii,” how would you respond? What tips would you give them if they wanted to emulate your style?
I’d say “Think graphically.” I love mathematical lines, shapes and frequency. I use a lot of radial blur, so I guess I’d say that too. Oh and most of all, to spice up your ideas with humor.

Any other secret talents we should know about?
I have a talent for being late from everywhere. It’s one of my most used talents really, so I don’t know if it’s very secret, but still mentionable.

Pick an IG’er with fewer than 500 followers that you think deserves a look from the community.
I’ll pick @Strawbrie and her colorful and humoristic personality that shines brightly through her photos.

Instagram Gift Books

It’s great to make a photo book out of your own Instagram pics, but what if you could make a book for a friend… using *their* photos?

Now you can! And just in time for the holidays. Announcing Instagram Gift Books — All you need to do is log-in to Instagram on Keepsy and then replace your username with your friend’s username. Their pics will load automatically in our photo selector, presorted by number of ‘likes’.

To see how ridiculously simple it is, check out this short video:

BONUS: This is what Blake sounds like sans caffeine

Turns out it’s actually just as much fun to make a book for someone else, so give it a try and let us know what you think!

Will your mobile photos stand the test of time?

Now that phone cameras and Instagram have given everyone the itch for photography, the Amazonian flow of images that flows past our eyes each day just keeps growing — each photo just a tiny drop in a vast river of simulated silver bromide. Will any of these pics endure the test of time?

Our friend David Mays (aka @bunnyrobot) put together this simple flow chart to demonstrate the chances of your image hanging around longer than a double-tap-flick on someone’s iphone.

Here, in all its glory (and pith): “Succinct Guidelines for Creating Lasting Artistic Images in the Age of Cheap and Ubiquitous Image Manipulation Tools and Filters” (or as we like to say around the office “SGCLAIACUIMTF”)

Interview: photographer Diego Amador @diegobot

Diego Amador dreams of Electric Sheep. Scanning @diegobot‘s portfolio is like walking onto the set of a Ridley Scott film. His shots of Los Angeles architecture are moody, intense and awe-inspiring. Diego took time out of his busy schedule hunting replicants to chat with us:

When you’re not doing photography, you are…
Working like a mad man for the man , Editing photos, Fishing, or Hitting up the bars in L.A.

How did you originally get into photography? What was your first camera?
First camera was a Canon AE-1 [FILM] worked my way up to a compact digital camera to a Nikon DSLR.

When did you transition to shooting architecture?
When I noticed the works from photographer Joel Tjintjelaar. That guy does great B&W architect shots.

What do you think of the latest Instagram 2.0 release?
Think it needs a new update already lol. Sometimes uploading photos does fill in the photo & leaves a black line at the top or bottom. dig the new filters, but also unhappy with the controlling of tiltshift.

How would you describe your style in three words
Melodic.Symmetrical, and Spunky.

If your portfolio had a soundtrack, it would be.
Radiohead’s “Hail to the Thief. Only because every track is slightly different ,but in the end its the same style.

How many photos do you shoot on an average day?
Due to work 5-7photos .Tend to make up for it on the weekend.

What is a photo technique or rule that your regularly follow (or constantly break)?
I usually try to follow the rule of the thirds, but i tend to break that rule to throw in some side way angle type shots.

What’s the one iPhone photo app you can’t live without?
Darn just one lol  ok okay has to be Camera+ cant live without my clarity.

What else is in your camera bag?
Qbro,PhotoFx,Diptic,PhotoWizard,Picfx, and many many more.

What aspects of photography are challenging for you? What is it like shooting in L.A.?
Shooting people[candids] are tough for me.I feel i do a better job of shooting people with my own twist which usually means motion blur . Shooting in Los Angeles County is great. Angelinos have a great playground to play with. Although one small complaint is that L.A is so spread out so getting from place to another might take a while. Damn you L.A traffic!!

Pick one of your favorites from your portfolio and tell us the backstory.  

"Love Personified" (c) Diego Amador

That would have to be “Love Personified’ Simply because the old couple in the photo. They gently walked up the stairs with a strong feeling of intimacy that could not be broken.

You shoot most of your photography in Los Angeles. If you could shoot any other locale in the world, where would it be, and why?
I would have to say Japan because they have awesome modern architect or any where in France for its rich historic background which cannot be duplicated.

If someone told you, “I want to take photos like @diegobot,” how would you respond? What tips would you give them if they wanted to emulate  your style?
Always look up and shoot away. You find interesting subjects by looking , and don’t be afraid to shoot new angles . Your neck might hurt after a month ,but its a ll well worth it.

Any other secret talents we should know about?
I can impersonate old people pretty darn good.

Any parting words for our nearly-departed friends at Kodak?

Pick an IG’er with fewer than 500 followers that you think deserves a look from the community
@Deonizayus One of boys that I collaborate with from the #EliteCollab Movement we have going on. He can flip a toilet into Megatron if he wanted to. all on his phone. Talented fellow to say the least.

How to build an image collage: Video Tutorial

Richard Hernandez (@koci) and Dan Cristea (@konstruktivist) over at lofimode have started a new series of iphoneography tutorials, and their first one is a winner.

Building an image collage” — gets the duo off to a great start. In the 30+ minute tutorial, Koci first gives us a peek at what’s installed on his phone. If you’ve ever wondered what he uses to get such iconic images, this is pure gold. You’ll learn why he shoots over 90% of his pics in one particular camera app, as well as the reasons he avoids the native iPhone camera whenever possible.

In the second half, he chooses a photo from the archive and walks us through his set-up, shooting, as well as the post-processing. The tutorial feels unscripted and genuine, and it’s great fun to see him “app-stack” (use several applications) to process the final shot.

Copyright, Richard Hernandez

If you’ve ever wanted to try emulate Koci’s style, or just wanted to learn about some other great applications you may not have tried, the meager $1.99 the team is charging for the video is well worth it.

Can’t wait to see what they come up with next!



Update: Here’s a shot I took this morning using some of the tips I learned in the video. It’s kinda Koci-esque, no? 🙂

Copyright, Blake Williams

Album Editor updates

Lots of new updates to Keepsy’s book editing tools. Much faster, intuitive and 100% more delicious with zesty Ranch flavor. Check out this quick 3-minute video to see how the new crop and zoom work: