When I we started out on the #KoikoiUG campaign in 2015, I wasn’t much of a photographer. I am still not one but I have learnt lots in the last 18 months. My first instinct back then was to fake it, till I made it. So, in the spirit of faking it, I borrowed the biggest DSLR camera I could find and wentsnapping away. Really quickly I realised certain things .

1. I didn’t like the DSLR, its bulky and I was more of the slide your gear into your pocket type of guy,

2. DSLR’s are also quite intrusive. And for a culture that is suspicious of being photographed, itpresented many challenges.

3. Phones have come a long way since the first camera phone and pack some pretty decent features for photography and film making.

Number 1 and 2, were instant. The story of realisation number 3 was different.

On our first trip East, I didn’t have access to a DSLR. All I had was a basic Samsung phone, and I had to find a way to make it work. I spent the night awake watching youtube video after youtube video talking about mobile photography and by 6am, I was good to go. I would show the world what mobile photography can do. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

Going back East 18 months later was like a second chance at a first time. The East has spectacular landscapes and I was determined to focus on only that and apply everything I have learnt in the last 18 months. This blog post shares the lessons I learned in my attempt to shoot landscapes in Kapchorwa. But first, what is landscape photography?

Its photography that shows spaces within the world, sometimes vast and unending, but other times microscopic. Landscape photographs typically capture the presence of nature but can also focus on man-made features or disturbances of landscapes. That’s what Wikipedia says. What in the beginning seemed so obvious opened me up to new possibilities of the metaphorical, symbolic, and fantastical that can all be expressed in a landscape. That being said, here are some tips;

Tip 1: Focus

Because I realized disturbances, features and subjects would make my landscape better, focus was major. Every scene you like has something that attracts you to it, and I decided to trust my eye and make those things my focal points. Deciding where I put my subjects in the picture was decided by 2 things, the rule of thirds and the realization that our education teaches us to read left to right, and thus people read pictures the same way.

Tip 2 Foreground:

A photographer friend on these KoiKoi trips once said, when shooting landscapes, you had to invite your viewer to look into your photograph and keep looking. I quickly realized putting my subjects in the foreground rather that the background created depth in my picture.

Tip 3. Lines:

During my search online a few month ago I have read about leading lines. This could be a path, a road, a river or even a moving subject that draws your viewer into the picture.

Tip 4. The Sky:

When you have nothing in your foreground, and no subject to focus on, putting the land in the lower part of your picture and allowing the sky to dominate creates some pretty interesting scapes. With a little enhancing to make it pop, it can create very serene scenes

Tip 5. Perspective;

Always shoot your landscape straight on. Get it out of the way. And then try the same scene from top looking down, down looking up, the side, whatever vantage point you can find. Each one has its own power, why not explore all of them. You never know what the money shot is.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

So how about you grab your phone and go shoot some Ugandan landscapes. And then load some data, Airtel has some great data plans, and share those with us via Instagram using the #KoikoiUg hashtag.

About the Author

Trained as an architect, David Ogutu sits on that fine edge between madness and genius making him a passionate creative and a consummate scholar of human behaviour. David is a popular radio and TV talk show host and an avid smartphonographer


  1. Karen Kana Reply

    Wow! I love this and have learned a few tricks! Thank yo for sharing David 🙂 I love editing with Vsco and Snapseed when using my phone.I can’t wait to try your tips and be a part of this cool Koikoi movement.


    1. David Ogutu Reply

      Karen, we look forward to seeing your beautiful phone photography. Do share your stories with us via the tag #koikoiug and please, join us on a trip one of these days

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