Building a Worldwide Mobile Photo Community: Interview with Severin Matusek from EyeEm

Eric’s Note: When I was in Berlin earlier this year, I was able to meet up with Severin Matusek, the head of content & community at EyeEm, one of the most popular mobile photo sharing applications. He manages EyeEm’s worldwide community affairs, blog and partnerships and he has also previously published photos books, city guides and camera commercials for Lomography. 

To learn more about EyeEm and Severin, keep reading below!

1. Pleasure to have you Severin! To start off, can you introduce yourself to the community? How did your interest in photography start, and how did you find yourself to EyeEm?

Hey there! I’m Severin, 27 years old, originally from Vienna, Austria, now living in Berlin and working with EyeEm. My interest in photography started as a teenager when I took my dad’s old Yashica and started taking black and white photos.

A bit later I got to know the guys from Lomography and started shooting with the Lomo LC-A, which is still one of my favorite cameras today. I then worked for almost 6 years for Lomography and was really into analog photography. Then, one day, I saw a very early EyeEm exhibition and thought: “Wow, these images look quite awesome for the fact that they were taken with a mobile phone.”

I then got to know the guys from EyeEm and took over the community affairs, just when the first version of the app came out in summer 2011. Ever since I’m hooked to what we do in the mobile space and look forward to a bright future.

2. For people who may not be so familiar with EyeEm, could you describe the application and what makes it unique (compared to other mobile sharing sites like Instagram?)

EyeEm is a photo sharing app made in Berlin. You take a photo, apply a filter, share it on EyeEm and to other social networks – and then the magic happens. Based upon where you are and what photos you take you’ll discover photos that are relevant to you: things going on around you, places, albums, people.

With other photo sharing apps the experience stops when you’ve finished uploading your photo, but with EyeEm it’s where it starts. It’s a whole new way of visually exploring what’s around you.

Another thing we’re really proud of is our worldwide community. There’s a strong sense of community amongst our users and also a great scene of mobile street photographers. A few weeks ago almost 30 people met at the EyeEm Jakarta Meetup, went for a photowalk and took some stunning street photographs.

3. Where do you think that Mobile Photography fits in compared to more traditional forms of photography? Do you think it is a fad or something that will fundamentally change the photographic landscape?

It’s definitely not just a fad, but it’s a definition that will vanish. To me it doesn’t matter if something is mobile photography, analog photography or digital photography – it’s the photo that counts, no matter how and with which device it was taken.

I personally take a lot of “mobile” photos as spontaneous snaps during the day, but when I go on a shooting trip I often take my Leica. Nevertheless, that stuff that catches my eye is the same.

4. What do you think is the future of mobile photography, and what changes do you envision EyeEm implementing moving forth?

We’re just at the beginning of the age of the connected camera. In a few years most cameras will be constantly connected to the internet, sharing photos as you go. With millions of photos being shared every minute, it becomes more and more important to find the images that relate to you. That’s not just the social graph (what pics your friends take) but beyond: what pictures are relevant to you, to where you are and to what you like.

Our vision is to connect people through the photos they take. In the future I believe EyeEm is not only going to be an app, but an infrastructure for people who love photography. You fire up the app, see what’s around you, what’s happening in the world, get inspired. This is where I think mobile photo sharing is heading to.

5. Who are some of your favorite photographers currently on EyeEm (street photographers) that you recommend us to follow?

Photograph by Brooklyn Theory

One of my all-time favorites is Brooklyn Theory from NYC.

I also really like what vesponti, also from NYC, is doing. Lots of spontaneous, sometimes blurry snapshots from the streets.

Elif aka Fisheyedreams from Istanbul does some great B&W photos.

And the Indonesian crew is also super talented. Check out the stuff by Krisna Murti, Akbar Makarti and Rizal Renaldi.

6. EyeEm recently released a new version 3.0. Could you sum up some of the biggest changes and what you are most excited about?

We completely reworked the interface and navigation of the app and, most importantly, introduced the Discover feed. This is a stream of photos that shows you what’s relevant to you: photos around you, trending topics, albums that just got updated with new pictures.

It gets better and better with every photo you take, learning what you love and showing you places, topics and people that matter to you.

7. Any people in particular you would like to give a shout-out to?

Photograph by Misho Baranovic

There are some great communities that evolved around mobile photography: Star Rush, Misho Baranovic and the guys from the Mobile Photo Group,  Brad, Aleand the WeAreJuxt crew, Graham and the AMPt crew, every person who took the effort and organized an EyeEm Meetup in their city such as: Joe, Kar Mun & Muhammad from Singapore, Misho from Melbourne, Akbar from Jakarta, David from Wilmington, Dipshika from Kolkata, Jan from Berlin, Gerardo from Mexico City, Jen & Joel from Los Angeles… the list goes on.

You can also see here for all of the meetup recaps.

I’m really proud to be part of this exciting community and can’t wait to see what’s next!

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  • Jose Arce

    great interview Eric, congratulations!

    what are your thoughts on mobile photography? and whether or not it has an impact on street photography nowadays? I know dslrs have nothing on rangefinders because of their practicality and usability, but what about camera phones?

    also, what can you do to be taken seriously when you shoot with your phone?

    again, great work!

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