How Andrey Makarenko Makes His Photos Stand Out

I’m really happy to share an interview with Ukrainian iPhoneographer Andrey Makarenko. While a lot of great photos are submitted to our iPhone photography contest every week, Andrey’s photos always impressed me and I wanted to find out more about his iPhoneography.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi Emil! I’d like to say thank you for this interview and this project that you do, please keep developing. My name is Andrey Makarenko, I’m 22, and I live in the beautiful city of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. I’ve already finished university as a software developer. At the moment I’m fond of video editing, but I’m not a professional photographer or a camera man.

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How did your iPhoneography journey begin?

I’d heard a lot about photography a long time ago. As a teenager, I enjoyed tinkering with machinery so I was reading magazines about different topics, including photography.

Three years ago I bought my first camera, Canon 550D, just for family needs and for shooting DSLR video. I didn’t like to take photos. Then I got my Nokia 6233 and started to use the cellphone as a camera. But it certainly wasn’t like it is now. In 2011 I got the iPhone 4 as a gift and I realized that this was the camera that I dreamed about.


The first app I installed was Camera+. I began to shoot and process photos with this app. I just took the pictures and didn’t think about what the results would look like. My iPhoneography craze began in June 2013. I took part in several Ukrainian online contests and tried to take photos about given subjects.

What inspires you to take photos with the iPhone?

I’m inspired by good music and people who also work with a mobile device. I like iPhoneography for its mobility, for the convenience of working with just one device, and for the quick results. I think this is the future.


Do you have any favorite photography genres or do you always like to keep experimenting and trying out new things?

At the moment I cannot select a specific genre. I do not like just empty landscapes. Sometimes I shoot an empty place and then return with friends later to get better shot.


Let’s talk about photo apps. Are there any apps that you use for taking photos besides the native camera app?

As mentioned earlier I use Camera+. What I like about this app is the ability to control focus and exposure separately and to lock them. Sometimes I use the stabilization mode, and sometimes the timer. It’s just as simple as the native camera but more functional.

What are your favorite apps for post-processing?

At the beginning (the first 3 months) I only used Snapseed. This is a great application with all the required functions. Now I use it for the primary treatment of the image.

The next application I installed was VSCO Cam and I purchased the entire set of filters. I like the modern style of this app and the characteristic tone of the prior art journals with more saturated colors. Mextures is one of my favorite apps as well. Sometimes I use the color filters in Mextures but most of all I like to create the old film look.

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Do you have any accessories for iPhone photography? Would you recommend that people buy them?

Accessories are irreplaceable things. It depends on what result you want to get at the end. You should always have a picture in your head first. I use a simple little tripod for $3 that I bought on eBay. I also use a tripod mount to attach my iPhone to the tripod.

Sometimes I take pictures with an extendable handheld telescopic monopod, which is convenient when you want to shoot from a higher angle or over an obstacle. Last fall I bought the original olloclip 3-in-1 which is an interesting accessory. I love it but I don’t use it a lot. I’d love to buy all versions of olloclip and a lot of other interesting accessories.

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What tips do you have for beginner iPhoneographers who want to start taking creative photos with the iPhone?

Your site is very valuable and gives a large number of comprehensive answers. I certainly recommend reading books about the basics of composition to develop your own style. It is also useful to study the work of other photographers. It is better to not worry about cameras and settings, because the character and emotion of the photos are more important.

Can you briefly explain the story and editing behind your three favorite iPhone photos?


This photo was causally shot in 2012 with iPhone 4. It’s one of my favorite photos. I knew little about composition and post-processing at that time. I saw an interesting glade with burnt grass and I found the texture interesting. The summer mood and the sky also complemented the photo. It was made ​​with Camera+, Snapseed and a VSCO Cam preset.

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This photo was made in autumn 2013 at the contemporary art festival “Gogolfest” near an abandoned factory. I’ve been impressed by many puddle photos and I was lucky to find such a huge puddle. The photo was created ​​with Camera+, Snapseed and a VSCO Cam preset.

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I saw this broken glass several times during the winter of 2013 on a pedestrian bridge. I’m glad that I was back there one  evening and the broken glass was still there. This photograph was taken and processed with VSCO Cam.

You’re the founder of Instagramers Kiev. Can you tell us more about this group?

It is a little group that was established November 1, 2013 as a part of worldwide community of mobile photographers. The creator of this community is Philippe González – you have interviewed him on your site.

I wanted to gather a community with the goal to create photo exhibitions and improve our mobile photography. We live in a large beautiful city with a lot of talented people so we have a lot of plans and ideas.


What tips do you have for people who want to set up a similar group in their own local community?

If you are interested in joining the Instagramers community you can find all the information on Instagramers site at the Cities section. I recommend to assemble a small team for co-organizing.


Ukraine is experiencing some serious political challenges. Do you feel that the presence of Instagram and other social media has given people a better way to voice their concerns?

Yes, unfortunately we are now going through hard times. In my opinion, the social platforms like this allow us to observe the real situation instead of distorted information because of the large number of people involved. Everyone participates as a true free reporter.

We’ll be fine and everything is going to be alright!


Which iPhone photographers do you admire the most?

Perhaps, first I’d like to say about my fellow countrymen, and Russian photographers. I’ve met and personally know very talented photographers such as Sergey Sarahanov @sarakhanov and Sergey Ristrenko @werter. They have a lot of knowlage ande eperience to share. They know how to properly show their idea and the atmosphere of what is happening.

I love the portraits of the St. Petersburg photographer Stanistalav Liepa @liepa_s and Ilya Mikhailov @russian_moscow.

My favorite foreign photographers are @koci, @bobbimac, @bobyanwar, @croyable, @jmsuarez_, @jnsilva and many others that can be found in my Instagram subscriptions.

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Where can we see your iPhone photography?

I would like to create a small website in the future, but now you can see it on Instagram @4ndrewmk. If somebody wants to communicate or meet up in Kiev, please send me a message on Facebook.

It's easy to take a quick snapshot with iPhone, but most people don't know how to take full control of their iPhone's camera. That's why we created a free video revealing 7 hidden iPhone camera features that every photographer should use.

  • Thank you Andrey for sharing your amazing work and insights with us!

  • Excellent tips. I love Camera+ as well. I’ve been thinking about getting Mextures. Perhaps it is time.

    • Mextures is a great app, I should be using it more often as well.

  • 3xMama

    Great article! Thank you for taking the time to share your pictures and story!