Week 2: Intro to MoPho

Basketball, late Monday afternoon. Photo copyright Verity Chambers
Basketball, late Monday afternoon. Photo ©Verity Chambers

In this video, iPhone photographer Emil Pakarklis explains seven really simple techniques you can use to make your mobile photography good. As with DSLR and larger format photography, the key ingredients are light, composition, and perspective or point of view.

Below is a summary of his advice. You can find Emil’s page on Facebook, and his website has a pretty good series of tutorials on mobile photography. (And hey, it’s ok to use a non-Apple phone. Most apps are available for iOS and Android.)

  1. Have a subject

    The subject is the first thing your eye sees.
    Boring subjects are better than none
    Multiple subjects can tell a story, or provide scale or context
    If you don’t know what the subject is, ask yourself why you’re taking the photo

  2. Take silhouettes

    Sunrise and sunset are good times because of the directional lighting (though a bright source of light such as a sunlit wall will also work perfectly well)
    Silhouettes look great because they’re high contrast (works well on a smaller screen)
    Silhouettes also add an air of mystery
    Shoot against the source of light (be careful of ‘flare’, or light shining into the camera lens)

  3. Include shadows in your composition

    Don’t crop shadows out
    Increasing contrast in a photo editing app makes the shadows stand out
    Best times are early morning and late afternoon (and winter is better than summer) because shadows are longer at those times

  4. Use reflections

    Find a good reflective surface (water, wet surfaces, glass, anything shiny)
    Get close to the reflective surface, try little tricks such as breaking the surface of a smooth puddle of water to create interesting distortions

  5. Take photos from a unique angle

    Familiar scenes look completely different from a unique or unfamiliar viewpoint
    Get low, get up high, point your camera up or down

  6. Use simplicity

    Don’t overcomplicate things
    Simple, clean images look better on a smaller screen such as a phone or tablet
    Eliminate distractions when you’re composing your photograph

  7. Combine all the above techniques

    I’d add as a tip of my own, take more than one – take several photos of the same subject. Move around a bit, change the composition slightly, play with the exposure.

    Basic composition techniques

    By Meg Speak


Before you start: think of your phone as a camera
  • Take seven photos and post them in a gallery on your Instagram account. Use the following themes for your photos:
      1. Colour
      2. Silhouette
      3. Shadows
      4. Reflections
      5. A unique angle
      6. Simplicity
      7. Shapes
  • Enhance your photos using Snapseed (iPhone/Android). Be careful not to over-edit them. Most of the creative work should be done while taking the photo.
  • With the help of a classmate, choose the photos you think are best. (Please see the note below about constructive critique and how important it is to creative work.)
  • File the best for a group photo gallery/galleries to be published on Friday during your classes with Ruth, Mark, and Nick. Upload the ones you choose to the Pics for Off Campus folder in the Google Drive. MAKE SURE your first name/last name are in the photo file name so you can be credited.

For anyone new to Snapseed, here’s a good tutorial (it really is the most amazing photo app!)

Constructive Critique

It takes courage to share your artistic work and to offer commentary on other people’s work. But critique is an essential part of the learning process, because everyone benefits from the analysis. The person doing the critiquing might learn a new technique, and the creator can gain knowledge of what they are doing well and how to improve. 

When offering a response to a colleague’s work, you can be guided by the following:

  1. How does the image make you feel? Explain the emotion that the image stirs within you.
  2. Does the image follow a compositional rule?
  3. What do you like, find interesting, or visually appealing?
  4. What, if anything, distracts you?
  5. How to critique your own photos.


Journalism students please note: weekly class exercises in MoJo and Online & Social may be submitted within your assessment portfolios in News Conference 🤓


Check out some of these amazing Instagram accounts.

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