Because Not Everyone Are Professional Photographers
In the digital era, when it comes to traveling, photographs and videos are the new post cards.
Not only are they mementos to help you remember an amazing time in a foreign country but they’re visual evidence of your trip you can show to your friends and family at home or on social media. We know these moments matter, so we want to help you step up your smartphone photography game with these 23 travel photography tips.
Travel Photography Tips Before You travel:
- Get to know your phone. Take a moment to check out all the things your smartphone can do. Get comfortable with the device and understand that each kind of phone is unique. The better you know yours, the better pictures you will be able to shoot.
- Keep your camera lens clean. Though we might be used to using our t-shirts or scratchy jeans to clean the lens, this might be causing damage to the crystal. Instead, use a microfiber cloth or buy a cleaning kit. The least you want is to have the perfect vacation photo with fingerprint traces.
- Clear space in your phone. Having backups of your old photos is always a good practice, but it also helps to make space for new adventures! Start with enough memory space so you can take as many pictures as you want while you are traveling.
- Consider investing on a phone tripod, especially if you are a solo traveler. Though being the main subject of a picture might not be everyone’s cup of tea, a phone tripod is the perfect way to get a steady picture with magnificent views as background.
- Look at reference pictures. There are lots of travel photography blogs. What is it that you like about the family vacation photos they feature? Is there a must-have picture you would like to get? The more reference you have, the more prepared you will be.
How to Capture the Best Picture While Travelling:
- Focus on one subject. Some of the best pictures have a focal point; a detail that calls the attention of the shot. In fact, there is no need to fill the entire space of the frame, sometimes we need negative space to highlight our picture’s subject. Remember, keep it simple!
- Apply the “rule of thirds”. The rule of thirds is a great way to locate your subject on an eye-pleasing frame space. Imagine there are two horizontal lines crossed by two vertical lines, creating nine equal squares. According to the rule of thirds, try to align important aspects of whatever you’re shooting with the gridlines. Most phones will allow you to display a helpful grid on your phone. This will help you line everything up. Soon, you will be able to see the rule of thirds everywhere! Learn where to turn this display option on your iPhone and Samsung!
- Keep an eye on the eyes. When it comes to portraits, always make sure the eyes are on focus. Even if the person is looking far off into the distance, keeping the eyes sharp will make the difference in your shot.
- Don’t focus on everything. When you think about it, you don’t see everything in focus. So, why should your pictures have focus everywhere? Unfocusing brings naturality to your photos and it will bring up the level of professionalism to your traveling photos.
- Drop the zoom. As long as you can, it is better to get closer to what you want to picture than to use zoom. Zoom can damage your image and pixelate it, make it look blurry and scratchy. Nowadays, many smartphones come with different lenses that can help you get a closer look to a far-away subject, so you can avoid using zoom.
- Use natural light. Whether you are on a hike or in an exotic café, look for places where the natural light hits better. This will brighten up your picture without the need of flash, which can overexpose your pictures. This way, you will get clear and appropriately lightened photos all the time.
- Take advantage of what surrounds you. Both urban and natural architecture are great surroundings for your pictures. Get underneath the leaves, walk down that natural path, or put yourself in the middle of a building and reinforce the symmetry. Use these spaces to make your pictures more magical and eye-pleasing. You can also search for the best places for travel photography at your destination and learn more about how people use these spots for their content!
- Be playful! Try to get different angles when you can. Get on the ground and make your smartphone look up, get on a higher rock and take a picture looking downwards. A change of perspective will spice up your subject and your pictures will definitely stand out.
- Be selective. Your eyes will always catch more things than the camera. Sometimes it is better to take a step back and breathe. Take your time to photograph what you want to capture and be patient.
- Steady yourself before taking pictures. Your safety should always come first. You don’t want to compromise a good footing because taking a picture mid rock climbing would make a great shot. If you are on a moving boat or horseback riding, enjoy the moment. Most tour guides know when is the best time and space to pause for photoshoots!
- Become a subject. We love selfies as much as the next person, but consider saving those for Instagram stories, not posts. Get familiar with your smartphone’s timer or ask for some assistance. Hopefully from someone who is just as passionate as you for good travel photo tips.
- Confidence is everything. When taking pictures of your friends and family it is important to make them feel comfortable. Traveling can be messy and they might not be carrying their most flattering outfit, but it is your job to remind them they look amazing when the camera is pointing. The more relaxed they are the better the picture will be. Talk to them, reassure them, or even throw a joke or two. It will pay off.
- Nature can’t hold back. If you are travelling with children or are trying to capture unpredictable subjects like wildlife or a moving creature, just start taking pictures. Asking nature (or kids) to be still is an impossible task. So, let them be themselves and have your camera ready. This is one of the best family travel photography tips we can offer.
- Get creative with panorama. We’ve all used the panorama function on our smart phone to capture a gorgeous sunset or idyllic horizon. However, you can flip your phone on the side and still use panorama. See a majestic tree that’s too tall to capture with a standard horizontal or vertical shot? Try panorama, from the bottom to the top.
- People or no people? While traveling, you will see hundreds of beautiful scenes that you can’t wait to capture. Go ahead and take those shots! Just remember that often, after a trip, what we find ourselves wanting to see more of are the people. Photos of family members, friends, and loved ones are something that you won’t be able to see anywhere else online. So, don’t forget to take pictures of yourselves among the cool nature and city-scapes.
- Enjoy the moment. Same as with kids, adults can sometimes be hard to gather for a picture. Don’t stress, start shooting photos. Oftentimes, someone will crack a joke and everyone will laugh naturally. Those are the candid photos you want for social media.
Travel Photo Advice for After Your Trip:
- Start editing. Don’t worry, everyone edits their pictures. Even professional photographers know the importance of retouching a picture. Editing doesn’t mean altering someone’s appearance but with the right app or preset you can step up your photography game. Improve the picture’s colors, remove stains from your shirt, and rotate and crop your crooked images! If the shot is good, make it better.
- Back them up. Nowadays your pictures can survive inside Instagram or Facebook, but we can’t be too careful. Besides, this way you can always have enough room in your phone for another random or planned adventure.
- Study your photos. Improvement is always a picture analysis away. Learn from your previous photographs and ask for feedback! Slowly but surely you will be confident and ready for your next trip!
Don’t stop learning!
Our final vacation photo tip is never stop learning. There are so many things your smartphone can do. Things like ISO, HDR, and white balance are some of the functions you can research now or after you are more comfortable with your mobile device.
Now, enjoy your vacation time and make sure to send those D.I.Y “postcards” to your family and friends back home.
Written by Carolina Villegas