How to Take Better Travel Photos with Your Smartphone

Convenience is a camera phone’s greatest advantage. So smartphones, combining multi-functionality with portability, make excellent travel companions. Unfortunately, though many are very good, they simply cannot measure up to the picture quality of full-sized cameras. There is always a trade-off between convenience and performance. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take incredible photos with your smartphone. In fact, with a bit of know-how, you can turn your tiny phone camera into an incredibly powerful instrument. Here’s how:

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Don’t shoot directly toward the sun, and don’t frame your subjects with the sun facing them head-on. The best lighting is overcast daylight; so on bright days keep the sun at an angle and try to shoot objects in mild shade. 

Timing is Everything

The best light occurs in the hours of sunset and sunrise. Shooting at the ideal time of day can produce some phenomenal pictures. 

Stabilize in Low Light

Tripods and stands are impractical and unnecessary when it comes to smartphones. But if you are shooting in low light, it is essential to stabilize your lens as much as possible. Hold the phone with both hands and prop your elbows against your body or on a flat surface. 

Rule of Thirds

This classic photographic technique is tried and true. Imagine a grid cutting your photo into three horizontal and three vertical pieces. Put major lines––like the horizon––along one of the horizontal grid lines, and frame your subject at one of the intersections. 

Proximity is Key

Eliminate chaotic backgrounds and bad lighting by getting close to your subject, so that it (or they) fills the entire frame. As a general rule, avoid the zoom feature. 

Practice Panning

Stabilize the camera as best you can, and pan it slowly to follow moving objects. This will create focused moving subjects with interesting blurred backgrounds. 

Don’t Be Bashful About Filter Apps

They work, and can create some amazing pictures. Apps like Instagram can be a cell phone photographer’s best friend. 

So, while your pocket-sized smartphone may not be able to measure up to that three pound DSLR, it can sure put up a good fight. It seems that every day camera phones are getting more functional and versatile, which is great news for those who love to pack light while still being able document their adventures. By following these simple tips, you can be sure to get stunning travel photos out of your smartphone. 

Thanks to George at for this collection of oft-underutilised tips. He recommends you use a bag of rice as a makeshift tripod, or some binder clips and a little imagination.


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