Travelers, you don’t need to carry a cumbersome and expensive DSLR to impress family and friends with your vacation travel photos. You can do it with your smartphone! Whether you have an iPhone, an Android phone or another mobile device with a camera, I’ve compiled some tips from travel photographers that will help you capture better snapshots on the go.
- Practice before you embark on your trip. Just as with any skill, repetition is key. Take pictures around the house, in the backyard and at a neighborhood block party. Learn how to spot a photo in action.
- Learn the magic of the “Golden Hour.” Professional photographers love nothing more than the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. Images captured at this time of day are more dramatic than those in direct sunlight. During the “Golden Hour” the light is softer and diffused, meaning harsh shadows and squinting subjects can be easily avoided!
- Keep your smartphone steady. Just as you’d hold a camera with two hands, steady your phone in the same way. Blurriness is almost impossible to edit out of photos, no matter what app you use.
- Avoid the zoom feature. Don’t be afraid to move closer to get a better shot.
- Utilize the rule of thirds. Imagine the frame of the photo with a grid overtop (or turn on the grid feature in your settings) and focus on placing the subject at the intersection of the grid. Doing this creates a visually appealing photo, more interesting than simply centering the subject.
- Most smartphone camera apps allow you to set the focus by tapping on that area of the screen. A square will appear letting you know where the photo will be sharper.
- Look for an unexpected angle to capture an exciting picture. Get closer to the ground, or find an elevated surface. You might be surprised at how much of a difference it’ll make in your photo.
- After you’ve captured your shot, editing apps can be used to take photos to the next level. Apps like Camera+, VSCO Cam and Afterlight have features that can edit exposure, contrast, saturation, white balance and hue, among other elements.
- Share your pictures with family and friends! Apps like Dropbox and Google Drive can be used to send large amounts of photos, but also serve as a photo backup. If you have a Dropbox account, pictures can automatically be uploaded, saving you the worry of losing your priceless travel snapshots. Flickr, which also allows you to back-up and share photos via its app, now offers 1TB of storage for free.
Is there anything we’ve overlooked? Share your smartphone photo tips in the comments or send us a tweet! Even better, send us a link to your travel photography!
All photos in this post were taken on an iPhone in Europe in 2014 by Emily Fischer.