Cool & Composed:
Snap Better Photos with your Phone or Camera


This book includes 45 tips and shares over 120 photos as learning aids over a series of 16 lessons to help readers young and old compose better photos.


If you have a digital or phone camera and want to learn basic photography concepts and ways to compose better photos, then this book is for you!

After explaining what it means to compose a photo, this book will teach you:

  • How to make cool subjects “pop” in your photos
  • To be mindful of things behind the subject (in the background) that are distracting such as a pole or tree that looks as though it’s sticking out of someone’s head
  • How things that appear closer to you than the subject (foreground) can enhance a photo
  • The importance of good light
  • Where to place a subject in a photo. For example, you’ll learn when to take vertical and horizontal photos, how to apply the “rule of thirds,” a well-known rule in the photography world, and how to frame a subject or scene.
  • The value of taking photos from different locations and eye levels
  • To be mindful of lines, shapes, patterns, color, and texture in a subject or scene
  • Ways to be creative
  • How to compose photos that tell a story

Some tips include a section labeled “Working It.” These sections include a number of photos which appear in the order I took them. I explain how I tried to improve each photo until I was happy with the final photo. Following this practice helps capture better photos.

Target Readers

This book was written primarily for budding photographers in middle school or high school who have expressed an interest in photography, but adults who are casual photographers have also found this book helpful.

Book Sample Photos

I share over 120 photos in this book as learning aids. Some of the photos are of familiar subjects such as a playground, baseball field, and rainbow.

Over a dozen photos of animals appear in this book. Did you ever see a Belted Galloway cow, a prairie dog, or a bighorn sheep? Find a photo of them in this book!

Numerous photos in this book capture kids and their passions – gymnastics, playing a musical instrument, bike riding, and dancing. Some portrait photos, family photos, and photos of adults are included as well.

Some of the places shown in this book are from my travels so they may give you ideas for your next family vacation.

Book Sample Lesson

To view a sample lesson from this book, click here.

Book Status

A draft copy of the book and workbook has been completed, but their publication is on hold. If you are interested in them, click here to inform me.


This book is jam-packed with tips and ideas for the early photographer who wants to move from “point and hope” to well composed and presented images. While aimed at a younger audience, it is appropriate for beginners of all ages seeking to improve.

Harry O’Connor, former President of the Cary Photographic Artists