13 Tips to Take Better Travel Photos with Just a Smartphone

In recent years, sharing on the various social media platforms where you travel has become the new black. A travel is almost never complete if you don’t ‘do it for the gram’. As technology advances, capabilities of a DSLR camera has found its way into a pocket-sized device. And now, it has evolved the way we do photography on the go with the ease of using our own mobile phones.

Here are some tips on how to take better travel photos using your smartphone:

1. Know Your Phone Camera Well

It is important to become familiar with the settings of your phone camera. Most mobile phones, especially the new releases, are equipped with capabilities that can be found in a DSLR camera. Make sure you know how to operate the different options and features before using it. Fiddle around with the manual mode if your camera has it, it often yields a much better result than an automated shot!

2. Clean Your Lens

Phone camera lens (back)
Image Credit: pexels.com

Your phone lens is just one small part of the back of your phone but it gathers the most dirt, dust, and fingerprint smudges. It is best to keep it clean by making sure there are no unnecessary marks that would reflect on your photos. Wipe it with a microfiber cloth and enjoy crisp details on your shots.

BONUS TIP: make sure your finger isn’t blocking any element of the flash when taking a photo! It often overexposes the photo from an angle.

3. Always hold your phone horizontally

Phone photography horizontal form

Image Credit: pexels.com

To capture the best landscapes and to ensure that all details are seen in your photos, it is best to take shots with your phone in a horizontal position. You maximize the details you get in a frame. Also, with that huge bezel-less or not phone screen, smartphones typically have the largest viewfinder amongst all the cameras out there – with composition being such a key in landscape photography, it is always nice to have a clearer picture (no pun intended) what you’re capturing!

4. Choose your subjects well

It may be a luxury to wildly ‘fire’ and pray for the best shot with the ease of digital photography. Due to the limited memory capacity of your phone, it’s not like using DSLR where you can take shots of everything you see interesting. You have to plan every shot and choose what is worthy of your phone memory. With phones, you are limited to a number of photos so you don’t have the right amount of freedom to take multiple shots of a single scene. Choose your subjects well before clicking that button.

5. Use detachable lenses

Detachable lens for phone cameras

Image Credit: stocksnap.io

The best part of living in a modern world is that phone cameras now have customizable modules/attachments which you can use to up your photography game. You can use a variety of lenses which you can attach to your existing phone camera lens to improve the shot. For instance, if you want to take a photo of the entire mountain range landscape, you can use a detachable wide angle lens for your phone to accentuate the entirety of the landscape. Check out a list of camera lenses for your smartphones at AliExpress today!

6. Natural Lighting Is All You Need

The number one rule of thumb would always be that natural lighting is the best lighting. Even at night, only use flash when lighting is really poor. Photos are often harshly lit and overexposed with flash. Instead, find a place with good lighting. Make use of natural sources of light such as the sunlight or look for a place at night with ample lighting condition to light up your frame.

7. Wait for the sunrise or sunset

Sunrise and sunset photography

Image Credit: pexels.com

One of the most alluring parts of travelling abroad is watching the sun go up or down the horizon. The best travel photos are often taken during these times. It does not only provide good natural lighting, it is also an amazing spectacle in the sky which you can capture with your phone camera. Ever heard of the ‘Golden Hour’? This is exactly what that term means, the gentle warmth tone adding an incomparable layer of color to your pictures. Be it landscape or portrait shots, the warm veil of the setting sun is always a pleasant finish to a shot.

8. Stabilize your shots using mobile tripods

Night photography with mobile tripod

Image Credit: stocksnap.io

When travelling alone, it is hard to take photos of yourself without having to look like every single shot is a selfie. The simple solution is to bring a mobile tripod. Same goes for travel photography. Your hand might be too shaky and your phone might be too sensitive to capture even the slightest amount of movement from your fingers. Especially at night, you would need to make your shots stable to avoid blurs and other unnecessary bad takes. Use your tripod to make sure that the landscape image you are trying to take will be crisp and sharp.

9. For action shots, use the burst mode

If you followed step 1 and understood the features of your phone camera, you would know that there is a burst mode function where you can take multiple shots in just milliseconds. This is best used when you are taking photos of objects or people that move. By using the burst mode, you are sure to capture every movement without blurs. This is a classic example of ‘spraying’ and praying for that one million dollar shot.

10. Use photography apps

Photography mobile applications

Image Credit: pexels.com

We’re not strangers to photo enhancement applications like VSCO and the slider options on Instagram, but what about ‘professional-grade’ applications like Lightroom? The used-to desktop-only programme has made its way into the pocket-sized world. Applications like Lightroom has condensed photo editing into sliders, presets and quick adjustment tools, giving your photos a new lease of life with just a touch of button.

11. Crop your photos, never zoom

Image Credit: Pinterest

If you want to take a photo and focus on something that is afar, you should almost never zoom and instead just position yourself closer to the subject. As much as technology has advanced, zooming is still very much something phone companies have yet to nail. Unless you want a screen full of pixels, then steer clear away from the zoom function. Instead, take the shot and then crop the photo according to your desired intention of the photo.

12. Do Not Go over the Top with Edits

bad edit
Image Credit: RightBrainPhotography | Flickr

It is easy to go astray and wild with the multitude of sliders and options. Does the photo still look natural? Well who is to say anything right, you get what we mean.

13. Be prepared for phone memory or battery running low

Additional memory storage

Image Credit: stocksnap.io

When travelling, you are always on the go. Make sure you have enough phone memory for the photos that you will take and of course, have sufficient phone battery to last the journey. The last thing you want would be for your phone to die on you when you have a split second to capture the unanimous sweep of the wind across a bed of flowers. Invest in a power bank or external memory cards. Better yet, choose a smartphone with a good camera, battery life, and internal storage! Visit Lazada Singapore, for an endless range of options for all your modular options.

Take pictures, bring back memories

Travelling has evolved from the conventional purpose of a getaway to a close scrutiny on one’s social media updates. Aside from seeing the world with our own eyes, there is also a unparalleled need to immortalize them forever. The easiest way is to take pictures as we travel. These are just some of the beginner tips for taking photos when travelling. Do you have other advice for taking better travel photos?


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