New skills in focus at PhotoWalks with Phones

Headshot of William Yeoman
William YeomanThe West Australian
Perth City Library. Wide-angle lens on a TCL 20 AI Quad Camera.
Camera IconPerth City Library. Wide-angle lens on a TCL 20 AI Quad Camera. Credit: Will Yeoman/The West Australian


Everywhere is ordinary. Everywhere is normal.

We walk and drive down the same streets, past the same buildings and parks and trees.

We become blinded by the everyday. We are all guilty of complacency, to some degree, even though we live in this beautiful and strange place.

But it wasn’t like that last Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, 40 readers joined me and Mogens Johansen on two PhotoWalks with Phones around Fremantle.

On Sunday, another 20 readers joined us for one in Perth.

And, as much as anything, PhotoWalks are an exercise in reseeing, reassessing and framing places we know. They are about setting a moment when we will practise and improve our phone camera skills.

American star photographer Annie Leibovitz once said she does things when she has a camera in her hand that she wouldn’t otherwise do: “I remember going down to the docks in San Francisco and asking a fisherman if he would take me out on his boat. I would never do that without a camera.” She says her camera gives her a “license” to go out into the world with an inquisitive, creative, critical eye.

Three tips …


Holding the phone securely is fundamental to good, sharp photos. Hold it securely in both hands, with them “locked” together or against one another. Use volume buttons to take capture the image.


Optical zoom is always best. Always try to be “on the lens” and avoid “pinching” to enlarge an image. When you “pinch” or zoom in beyond what the maximum optical focal length is, the phone just takes a portion of image and enlarges it. Hence the pictures start to break up. Walk closer rather than zoom.


If you’re not happy with the exposure you see on the screen, touch to get the yellow box (on an iPhone), then drag your finger up and down the screen to change the exposure. On some Android phones, the drag is left and right.



Perfect weather, perfect location and, most importantly, perfect company. That was Sunday’s PhotoWalk with Phones session taking in the Supreme Court Gardens and Cathedral Square.

Stephen Scourfield during a Photowalk with Phones session in Cathedral Square.
Camera IconStephen Scourfield during a Photowalk with Phones session in Cathedral Square. Credit: Will Yeoman/The West Australian

The group of more than 20 West Travel readers comprised a balanced number of iPhone and Android users. Which again was perfect, as Mogens was able to dispense his Samsung wisdom while Stephen demonstrated the wonders of the latest iPhone’s camera.

Actually, there was also a natural division between attendees who had little knowledge of how to operate their phone cameras on the one hand, and those who were pretty comfortable with the tech but who needed some advice on basic photography skills such as composition, framing, lighting and subject matter.

One last division: an hour or so in and around the Supreme Court Gardens, then and hour in and around Cathedral Square. Nice.

As a lot of people pointed out, such was the number and variety of subjects and themes offered by both locations that you could have spent more than two hours walking no more than a few metres.

Contrasts between old and new architecture, between architecture and the natural environment, between light and dark, backlit and frontlit, colourful and monochrome, horizontal and vertical emphases . . . everything was up for grabs, with Stephen and Mogens offering plenty of tips, tricks and insights along the way.

It was a testimony to the knowledge of Stephen and Mogens that after just 10 minutes one attendee said she’d learned more about taking photographs with her phone than she’d learned since she first owned one.


+ Stephen Scourfield and Mogens Johansen will lead another PhotoWalk with Phones in Perth on February 3. They are $49 for the two hour instructional walk, and full booklet.

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