David Koonar’s Guide to Taking Amazing Pictures with your Smartphone


Last Updated on March 12, 2021

So you aren’t quite ready to plunk down a sizeable chunk of change for the latest DSLR camera and lenses. That is totally understandable. Sure, the larger sensor in those kinds of cameras might make pictures look better, but they can be prohibitively expensive for someone that wants to just start up photography as a fun hobby.

While you may not have any flashy doohickeys in your arsenal, remember: A camera represents only about 10% (we’re estimating here) of the equipment a you need to take wonderful pictures. The other 90% is the photographer themselves.

Here are some great tips for creating your works of art with nothing more than your wits and the latest in cellular technology. If you want some more guides to taking great pictures, feel free to visit us at David Koonar photography.

Use Gridlines if Possible

If your phone lets you superimpose gridlines over the camera, start by activating that feature. This will break the screen into thirds horizontally and vertically, giving you a grid of nine squares to work with. There’s a rule of composition known as the rule of thirds.

This rule states that points of interest in a photograph will be most visible if you place them at the intersections of these gridlines. Remember that when you are creating your composition. At David Koonar, most of our pictures are taken with this rule in mind.


Focus on the Right Thing

person holding black smartphone

Phone cameras automatically focus, but what they focus on may not necessarily what you’re trying to emphasize. Maybe you’re trying to take a picture of two people with a focus on the person in back. In any case, most phone cameras will allow you to tap the screen in order to indicate where you want the image to be sharpest.

Try and decide on your focus beforehand. Sometimes, the subject may be moving and you may not have a chance. If that’s the case, do your best. If you have a static subject, then you’re going to have all the time in the world to prepare.


One or More Subjects?

When you’re starting out, a lot of photographers will suggest focusing on just one subject, since that makes composition a whole lot easier.  There are exceptions to this hard and fast rule, of course. Don’t restrict yourself. If you see two awesome things at the same time that look great together, it’s a good time to break the rule.

However, there is a lot of debate about the best way to compose that subject. For example, some suggest you should fill the frame with the subject. Others suggest you should leave one third of the frame for negative space. Let’s discuss negative space a little bit more.


Negative Space: Friend or Foe?

boy taking selfie

As with all art, there is no answer to the question of appropriate negative space. Perhaps you want your subject to be a tiny dot on the bottom right corner of your photo. Perhaps you want one third of someone’s face to fill up the whole frame. The appropriate amount of negative space is always going to be the amount you need to convey the idea or emotion you’re trying to express.

Isolation and loneliness, for example, might require more negative space than fulfillment and joy.

The important thing is to compose your frame with the elements you believe will convey that message. Keep what’s important and leave out what isn’t.


Find Cool Stuff!

person holding yellow maple leaf over water on street

Look at some of the greatest pictures taken. There are elements in them that have a tendency to recur. Some things just look cool when you take pictures of them.

Any areas with water or glass can be ripe for amazing light effects or reflections. Playing with reflections is an especially fun way to create a cool photograph.

Alternately, you can also look for crazy angles and repeating patterns. You can find new and interesting perspectives, taking a picture of some everyday object and putting it in a new light.

Always try to use surroundings to lead someone’s eye to your subject. This may come in the form of lines pointing towards it. You can also use darkness and light. When both are present, the eye will be led to the lightest area. That will general be where you want your subject.

Use Your Tools

a man using photoshop

Your phone has settings and filters. They can help turn your normal picture into something extraordinary. Play with your brightness and contrasts. Play with the colors. If you have Photoshop, perhaps it may be worth putting a particularly great image on your computer and playing with it there.

Hopefully, this has given you a lot of great ideas for your next Motorolla Flip-Phone photography project (just kidding). Soon, you’ll be taking gorgeous shots with nothing but your Smartphone camera and your imagination. If you want more articles on Photography, take a look at the David Koonar site above.

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