It was a smartphone that steered Demas Rusli into a career in photography.

When his photographer cousin needed an assistant to do a pre-wedding shoot, Rusli got the call. Though an architect by trade, he spent the weekend driving equipment around Sydney, changing lenses, and seeing first-hand how photography made people on both sides of the camera happy. His cousin passed on a few pointers and Rusli captured some snaps on his phone. One week later: he bought an entry-level digital SLR camera. Eight years on: the 29-year-old photographer collaborate with brands like Samsung, Adidas, Nike, Etihad Airways and tourism bodies around the world.

While work sees Rusli hit the road with a digital (mirrorless) SLR in hand, when he’s off the clock he captures the world like we do: with his smartphone. Beyond convenience, Rusli says the smartphone camera has come a long way.

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“Wide angle lenses on smartphone cameras: that’s what changed the game,” he says. “When I’m just walking around the city, I don’t take my SLR with me anymore unless I’m doing a professional job.”

Even if you’re not being commissioned to take professional photos, professional-quality photos are only as far as your pocket. Rusli uses a Samsung S20FE, which has three distinct lenses, but says the following advice should help any budding photographer looking to take shots that stand-out – even when nearly everything on the planet seems to have already been photographed.

Think about your composition
“Don’t just shoot straight-on,” says Rusli. “Look at different types of composition. Try going low: when you’re shooting really low, you can flip your phone upside down so your lens is closer to the ground. If you’re at a high vantage point, look straight down. Look for reflections and puddles and shoot through things. Try to look at different angles to what a normal tourist would shoot. That’s how I would try to shoot something popular differently.”

Utilise all the lenses on your phone
“My S20FE has an ultra-wide lens, a wide lens and a tele-lens,” says Rusli. “Thinking about how you can use each of these three lenses to tell a story will take your photography to the next level. I do a lot of urban and architecture photography so I always get drawn to the ultra-wide lens which is really good for showing the scale of a place. The FE tele-lens has a three-times zoom which I would use to shoot more detailed stuff: something like the corner of a building that’s interesting. It’s also good for taking photos of food. You know when you’re in a restaurant and the light creates a shadow? I’d use the tele-lens to avoid those shadows.”

Experiment with all the different camera modes on your phone
“There are things like hyper-lapse mode which lets you create videos of people moving really quickly,” says Rusli. “There’s also a pro mode, where I can control the ISO and the shutter speed. It also gives you an exposure meter at the bottom of the screen and will tell you if a shot is overexposed or underexposed. Playing around with that is a good way to learn how to set settings on a manual camera. I also use panorama mode quite often. If I need to shoot a wider scene, I turn the camera sideways so I get more width and then I pan it upwards so you get a really wide angle shot.”

Download the right photo editing apps
“I think of photography as half shooting and half editing,” says Rusli. “I come from an architecture background, so I love the editing process. Some of the apps I use include Lightroom Mobile, Photoshop Express, Snapseed and VSOP. I love the editing process and changing colours to the way I like it. I also do a bit of Photoshop editing where I go a bit crazy and flip cities upside down. Phone apps like Lightroom Mobile have evolved to the stage where you can process RAW files (a high-resolution format that contains minimally processed photo data).”

Take more photos
“The biggest tip is to get out and shoot as much as possible,” says Rusli. “You always have your phone next to you, so the more you go out, the more you increase your opportunities of getting good photos. You don’t need to carry anything extra: just explore. Because of this pandemic I started exploring different parts of New South Wales I hadn’t been to before. A few weeks ago I went to a place called Crescent Head, where there was this pretty crazy cave that I didn’t know exist. My astronomy photography also took me to a place called Lincoln’s Rock in the Blue Mountains. I’d never been there before and it was epic. Taking photos is a great way to explore where you live. It’s also good practice for when borders do open up and we can travel – and take photographs – interstate and internationally again.”

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the Samsung S20FE. Learn more about the Samsung S20FE here.