Mobiography Made Easy: Image Composition by Hemant Jariwala
This article first appeared in the Rothsay Ramblers June 2021 newsletter and is reproduced here with a number of his images by kind permission of Hemant Jariwala. Hemant has also kindly provided a number of photos for use across this website.
“Which of my photographs is my favourite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow!” Imogen Cunningham (1883 – 1976)
I have put together a few compositional tips for mastering Mobiography. Indeed, many people regularly apologise that they just have an iPhone or smart phone camera and don’t have a “proper camera”. However, if an image is powerful and interesting, it doesn’t really matter what it is taken on! Although there are many limitations to photographing using a phone camera, remember, a smart phone is always with you and you are more likely to take more images as a result.
Rule of Thirds or ‘The Golden Ratio’. One simple way to quickly improve your ‘composition’ skills is to switch the gridline option to ‘on’ in the phone settings, which shows a series of lines on the screen based around the rule of the thirds. The ‘phone screen’ is divided into 9 areas using 2 horizontal and 2 vertical lines. Positioning your main subject on one of the intersections will give the most emphasis to your subject. Avoid placing your main subject in the centre.
Focal Point. Without a main subject or point of interest, your photo is likely to be boring and uninteresting. So, always look to include a focal point, which will give your photo meaning and provide a place for the viewer’s eye to rest.
Leading Lines. Use strong visual lines to force the attention of your viewer through your image or towards a subject. Lines can be straight or curved. Multiple lines can increase the image’s impact.
Reflections. Use; water, glass, mirrors and highly polished surfaces as reflections offer a double view of a single subject. Used most commonly in landscape and street photography, reflections offer an abstract approach by having one inverted view.
Shoot From A Low Angle. Instead of taking photos from the height of a standing adult, try ‘squatting down’ thus taking an image from a low angle. Indeed, shooting from a low angle also makes your photo more unique and interesting as it allows you to capture your subject from a viewpoint that most people don’t usually see.
‘Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS)’ Principle. The best compositions in photography are usually simple. By keeping your photo scene clean, without any distracting elements, you can make the most of your main subject. An easy way of achieving this is to ensure the background is clean and simple so that the subject stands out well. Often, a simple change in viewpoint will enable you to change the background of the scene. Try taking a few steps to the left or right, or shoot from low down or high up to eliminate distractions.
And finally, …. take it Seriously! Don’t treat smart phone photography as a throw away or ‘casual snapping’. Take your time to consider what you’re photographing, compose the image, get the exposure correct and shoot. Stop walking or moving about and hold the phone steady (either, vertically or horizontally)! Take the image with some degree of thought. So often, many people are hurriedly snapping and ruining their photographs with badly composed and shaky imagery. Remember, every image you take is unique!
All images for this article were shot with my iPhone!
“Keep snapping, and have fun!”