It’s not because you can get your smartphone out of your pocket in a flash that you should not take the time to properly approach your subject. A great photo is first a well-composed photo.

Look In Depth

Watch for the foreground:

  • Is your subject masked by unwanted objects?
  • Is it possible to play with the plan superpositions and to have a foreground marrying well with the subject?

And the background:

  • Is it harmonious or contrast it well with the subject?
  • Is the subject not drowned in the depth of the scene?
  • Are there any lines of force you can play with? Etc.

Move Your Body (!)

Use your legs:

  • Turn around your subject
  • Get closer to your subject in order to let it take all the necessary space within the frame
  • Or move away to avoid close-up portraits (see below on why avoid close-up portrait)
  • Kneel if necessary to be on the same level as the subject
Turn around your Subject
Do not just stay on the position where you have taken your smartphone out of your pocket. Turn around your subject to see how the foreground and the background conjugate with the subject, how the light sculpts or flatten the subject. Apple iPhone 7 Plus, 1/20s, ISO32, f/1.8, 28mm equiv. © Amaury Descours
Far or Close
Step back or move closer to your subject to apprehend the best framing. Apple iPhone 7 Plus, 1/25s, ISO 32, f/1.8, 28mm equiv. © Amaury Descours

Use your arms:

  • Is it necessary to move higher your smartphone?
  • Or lower?

Use your hands and wrists:

  • Does it have to be properly aligned with the scene/subject horizontal and vertical lines of force?
  • Or play on bold obliques?
  • Should we be in high-angle shot, facing down, to accentuate the tiny side of the subject or the scene?
  • Or in low-angle shot, facing up, to accentuate the imposing side?
  • Or stay on the same level as the subject to remain on an equal footing?
Right or Oblique
Try less common framing such as oblique framing that can give more dynamism to the image. Apple iPhone 7 Plus, 1/25s, ISO 40, f/1.8, 28mm equiv. © Amaury Descours
High or Low-Angle
Simply by playing on the tilt of the smartphone, the point of view on the subject imposed by the camera plays considerably on the perception of the image. Apple iPhone 7 Plus, 1/35s, ISO 32, f/1.8, 28mm equiv. © Amaury Descours

Choose your framing:

  • Should you be in landscape mode?
  • or in portrait mode?
Landscape or Portrait
Always consider the choice between landscape or portrait when shooting. This greatly changes the perception of the photo. When in doubt, take pictures in both directions! Apple iPhone 7 Plus, 1 / 25s, 32 ISO, f / 1.8, 28mm equiv. © Amaury Descours

But do not choose too fast between square format, 3: 2 or 16: 9: postpone this choice after shooting and stay in 4: 3, the largest format.

Keep A Record Of Your Experiments


Do not take only one picture:

  • The storage space being practically infinite, do not hesitate to trigger with each new composition
  • By being in contact with the subject, you will understand what is going to be the best composition according to you
  • It is often by reviewing the photos after the fact, that our perception of the scene matures and makes us finally choose another composition than the one during shooting.
Collection of composition experiments
Take a picture for each composition. By reviewing your photos after shooting, you can really choose the best composition. iOS 10 Photos application. © Amaury Descours

Get Help

Use the visual aids of your photo application:

  • Are the points of strength of the subject/scene aligned with the framing: rule of thirds, golden ratio, …?
  • Are not the vertical or horizontal lines of the scene slightly oblique?
Visual aids for composition
The iOS photo application offers in its settings the display of a grid that divides the frame into thirds. This allows for verifying that the horizontal or vertical lines are well aligned, and to put the image points of force at the intersections. Screenshot from Apple iPhone 7 Plus. © Amaury Descours

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You Want To Know More About Smartphone Photography?

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  • Valuable tips for iPhone and Android smartphones
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