iPPA is an annual competition that awards the very best in iPhone photography.

2015 saw thousands of shots submitted to the iPhone Photography Awards from over 120 countries around the world. Each shot was entered into one of 19 different categories, including: abstract, animals, architecture, children, flowers, food, landscape, lifestyle, nature, news & events, other, panorama, people, portrait, seasons, still life, sunset, travel, and trees. That covers an amazing range of life and experience, and the photographers really took advantage of it.

It's the 8th edition of the iPhone Photography awards, so I asked the founder, Kenan Aktülün, how the entries had evolved over the years:

We started seeing less experiments with many filters and apps unlike previous years. It seems like users are getting more comfortable with features/effects and focusing more on capturing great moments. The improvement in control of light and compositions are definitely noticeable. Some photographers have great use of the new features like the burst mode. This years 2nd Place winner is a great example. When I saw that image I had to ask him to send us the rest of the burst shots.

Another thing I'm noticing is more professional photographers are using iPhone and getting pretty comfortable with it. One of them is John Huet who has some great images. A portrait in a studio and some shots from the last Winter Olympics.

It is also getting harder to distinguish the camera it was shot by looking at some images. That has a lot to do with the technical improvements of the iPhone camera but also users being more comfortable using it.

First place this year, along with the title of iPhone photographer of the year, went to Michal Koralewski. His winning photo was the result of a stroll through a market square in Warsaw, where he saw an accordion player squishing out the songs central to their shared culture. And the iPhone let him capture that moment forever.

Second place went to David Craikb of the U.K. Seeing birds alight on his table at a costal cafe, and noticing the shadows behind them, he managed to capture a unique take on a classic composition. That was thanks, in part, to burst mode on his iPhone.

Third place went to Yvonne Lu. Originally from Taiwan, she lives now in New York. It was there, on her commute home, she noticed a captivating couple on a train, and used her iPhone to frame the moment forever.

All three receive an Apple Watch Sport in recognition of their work, and the first place winners in each category get gold bars from a private mint.

Apple continues to make great strides with the iPhone camera, including software advances like burst mode and hardware improvements like optical image stabilization. No matter how great a tool is, however, it's the artist using it that matters. These artists took the bits and atoms Apple provided and captured images that also manage to capture the imagination. It's beyond inspiring — it's motivating.

You can find a complete list of all the winners in all the categories, first through third place, at the IPPAWARDS