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An interview with Mikael Eliasson, London-based photographer

In this interview, Mikael, a London-based photographer, shares his passion for photography, his process, and the challenges he faces in the industry.

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5 minutes

    By James

    James has seven years' experience as a Content Marketer, bylines on Left Foot Forward, Submittable, and INOMICS, and a Master's in History. In his free time he likes to read, play guitar, and write for his personal blog.

    Mikael, thank you so much for taking the time for this interview today. We at Mailbutler are curious to find out more about you and your work life. Let’s start with some questions.

    Can you tell us about your background and how you came to work at Photography Course London?

    I graduated back in 2004, and to support myself using my photography I turned to teaching. I taught photography and Photoshop in a variety of places as a freelance tutor, and eventually took the plunge to set up on my own, founding PCL back in 2010.  

    Can you discuss the concept behind your portrait series and what message you aim to convey through your work?

    Most of my personal projects try to strip back the image by using a plain background, being quite close to the subject, and really focusing on the eyes. I try to have my subjects keep a neutral facial expression to further draw attention to the eyes and not give away too much about the subject.

    What sets Photography Course London apart from other photography schools in the UK?

    The tutors! We have a large number of tutors, each specializing in their own field. PCL offers a very wide range of courses, and for any course you take with us your tutor will have extensive knowledge.

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    Besides being experts in their field, anyone who teaches for us must have a passion for sharing knowledge. It doesn't matter how well you know your subject if you’re not a good teacher.

    Can you talk about the range of courses you offer and what students can expect to learn from each course? 

    We offer a wide range of courses, from complete beginners' courses to professional photography courses.  

    • Beginners Guide to Digital Photography – Level 1 
    • Beginners Guide to Digital Photography – Level 2 
    • Introduction to the Darkroom 
    • Lightroom Foundation 
    • Photoshop Foundation – Level 1 
    • Photoshop Foundation – Level 2 
    • Street Photography 
    • Advanced DSLR Photography 
    • Portraiture Masterclass 
    • Studio Lighting: Portraits 
    • Product Photography 
    • DSLR Video 
    • Street Photography: The Assignment 
    • Retouching Fashion and Beauty 
    • Photoshop for Graphic and Design 
    • Night Photography (Seasonal - this course is only available in the winter months) 
    • Presenting your Work 
    • Professional development 

    What is your teaching philosophy and what kind of experience do you aim to provide for your students?

    ©Domestika - Mikael Elliason

    ©Domestika - Mikael Elliason

    I put a lot of emphasis on the “why” when teaching. I think it is very important to understand what things are and why you use them rather than memorizing how to do something.

    This will give the student a deeper understanding of the subject and the ability to expand their knowledge easier. I find this is extremely important in particular when working in Photoshop as there are so many ways to do things. We are also keen to teach the origins of photography so we offer analogue photography and darkroom tuition. 

    How do you keep your courses and curriculum up-to-date and relevant in the rapidly evolving photography industry?

    We constantly review our courses and tweak them where necessary, and sometimes we add new courses or subjects and retire redundant courses.

    How do you see the future of photography and how is Photography Course London positioning itself to stay ahead of industry trends?

    With great mobile phone cameras, anyone can take a good photo. There is a big difference between technical quality and visual quality and we strive to promote the importance of how to operate a camera. Good photography is much more than a good quality device. A good photograph is made by the photographer, not the camera. 

    Can you talk about the tools and technologies you use in your daily work and how they help streamline your processes?

    We rely heavily on email communication and our bookings are done online through our website. 

    How has the integration of Mailbutler impacted your email workflow and what specific features have you found most useful?

    Since using Mailbutler we have a much better understanding of who reads our emails and if they click any links we send them. This is more on a personal level, rather than big-picture statistics, for us. We want to know if a student has received the information we have sent to them, rather than the percentage rates of those who open our email or follow links. This helps a lot when communicating with students as if we see they don’t receive or open an email with important information we can contact them through other methods. 

    Has Mailbutler improved your overall productivity and efficiency in managing emails?

    Absolutely! A great feature for us is the scheduled emails. We use it to, for example, send out course information and directions in a timely manner before a course. We also use this feature if we respond to emails before or after normal office hours.  

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    Can you speak to any current or upcoming projects you have in the works?

    We may in the future create online versions of our courses. We have found that a vast majority of our customers want face-to-face tuition, but this could be a useful accompaniment to a course and act as a good way for them to revise things they learned in the past but have forgotten.

    How do you see the future of photography evolving and how do you see yourself evolving as an artist within that landscape?

    Unfortunately, I think as mobile phone cameras get better, more people will settle for that and not learn how to use a “proper” camera. Don’t get me wrong, I think mobile phone cameras are great and they are sufficient for a lot of things, but they can't replace a camera with interchangeable lenses.

    Quality is not about how many megapixels you have, but about having the ability to choose your focal length, aperture and shutter speed. This has both positive and negative consequences for me as a professional photographer and educator.

    On the positive side, photography is more accessible and more and more people become interested. On the flip side, many photographers lose business as many small jobs are now replaced by phone pictures.

    I think the best way to stand out and adapt as a photographer is to master your craft and clearly show the difference photography can make when the camera is handled correctly. If you do that, the images speak for themselves. 

    Mikael Eliasson Bio:

    Mikael Eliasson's work focuses primarily on portraiture, but he also explores the concept of landscape. His work has been exhibited throughout Europe and initially gained recognition in Portfolio Catalogue magazine.

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