Top 5 Tips For Taking Better Travel Photos With Your Phone
When we travel, we always want to capture the special moments that awe us and help us appreciate the world better. Fortunately, it is much easier for us in today’s advanced technological age. Nowadays, you don’t necessarily need to haul around a big DSLR camera to get great photos.Whether you have an iPhone or an Android phone, cell phones have been stepping up their game when it comes to their cameras. We have to admit, we are not the best photographers and do not claim to be experts by any means. We do, however, embrace some simple photography rules that help us to capture those special moments. Here are our top 5 tips for taking better travel photos with your phone.
5. Don’t Use Flash
Flash photography has its place for portrait photos but it should be used sparingly in all other scenarios. Flash should be turned off unless you are taking a photo of a nearby subject in complete darkness. Most smart phones now have good enough camera sensors that can intake a decent amount of light. The problem with taking photos in dimly lit area is that photos can come out blurry. That is because your camera needs a longer time to take in light and any movement of your phone will mess it up. When taking photos in dimly lit areas, try to be as steady as possible. Hold your phone with two hands and bring your elbows closer to your body to reduce shakiness. If still doesn’t produce photos that aren’t blurry, try using a tripod. We always travel with a tripod nowadays.
4. Use Landscape Mode
We like portrait mode but it should be used mainly…for portraits. Landscape mode, meaning holding your phone sideways, always produces more stunning photos especially for…well…landscapes. Now there will always be instances where portrait mode may be better especially for tall subjects like skyscrapers or trees. But if you can, try to move back so that you are able to take the photo in landscape mode. We use portrait mode only in the instances where a landscape photo would not convey the feeling that we want. If you also plan on taking videos on your travels, please please please use landscape mode and not portrait mode! You don’t see Steven Spielberg using portrait mode for his movies!
3. Different Perspectives
Most of us take our photos from eye level. It just comes naturally because that’s how we see the world. Changing your perspective of view often makes helps to create new feelings when looking at things. Instead of taking photos from your eye or chest level, try going lower or higher. You’d be surprised of the type of photos you can get from just this one change. The only perspective that you should be cautionary of is the titled horizon. Tilted horizons if done correctly can be stunning but more often than not, it just creates a dizzying effect for the viewer.
2. Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is not really a rule but more of a guideline (no pun intended) that you should follow when taking travel photos. The idea is that you separate your photo thirds and place your subject in the intersection of the thirds. There have been studies that show that our eyes tend to gravitate to these intersection areas naturally. We can make photos more impactful and allow the viewers to connect better by following this rule. Most cell phones allow you to turn on the gridlines on your camera. We turn on this setting for all of our phones try to use the Rule of Thirds in all of our travel photos. Using the Rule of Thirds will instantly make your travel photos better. But like all rules, rules are meant to be broken.
1. Having a Subject
It is easy to pull out your phone and snap pictures during you vacation but to really improve your photos, you should ask yourself this question “What am I taking a photo of and why?” Having a subject really enhances your photos by giving your eye something to focus on. A subject doesn’t necessarily have to be a person or an object either. It could be the colors of the sky during a sunset for instance. Before we started asking ourselves this question of what and why, our phone’s camera roll was filled with random photos of streets and fields. While the photos were decent, it was hard to find photos that conveyed an emotion or incited a good memory.
Bonus tip: Framing
Once you’ve mastered some of the tips from our list above, you can work on our next tip which is framing. Framing is a big part of the photo composition process. This tip requires a bit more thought and is powerful once you master it. Framing is the idea using elements in your frame to create another frame. This could be done with a window, doorway, archway, etcetera. A good example is the photo above. This photo was from our trip to Ios, Greece. We used the doorway of our hotel room to create another frame. Using framing, we wanted to invite your attention to patio with the stunning view of the bay. Incorporating framing into your photos can add another level of photography style to your repertoire.
With the technology in our phones, we can document our travels easier and better than ever. In order for us to take better photos, we have to instill some basic photography principles into our photo taking habits. Hopefully our top 5 tips for taking better travel photos with your phone was helpful in giving you some basic guidelines to follow.
In our opinion, taking photos for the sake of having photos shouldn’t be the focus on your travels. Aim to capture that emotion and feeling of the moment that you’re in. Once you start doing this, you’re photos not only become more beautiful, they become more memorable.
Bryan is a travel blogger and one half of Travelling Daze. Bryan loves to blog about trip planning, reward point redemptions, photography, and videography.