Do you love to travel? Here are some tips to take great travel photography with a phone. You can capture memories, colors, events, and culture that can bring joy for years to come. Many people collect souvenirs on a vacation, but a mobile phone can capture the life of that moment.
Travel photography is a great way to tell stories through images. You may go close by or across the world and find amazing stories of challenge, life, and success. Many of my travels include going on trips to nature. Clouds, trees, and space tell powerful stories of the creations of this earth. Photography can bring joy and is a powerful tool for creating a connection. Photography is a way to share who we are with others and to enjoy great memories.
Today it’s easy to share your travels with social media like Instagram. This can be a positive way to practice your photography and to share. I recommend using social media as a tool to share and not compare. Here are some tips to take better travel photography with your phone.
13 Tips to Take the Best Travel Photography with a Phone
1. Find the Location, Plan your Shot
After you decide to go on vacation, it is very exciting. It’s easy to spend hours of time researching the best places to eat, stay, and go during the day. Also, during your research spend a few minutes planning the shots you will take. Here are a few simple travel photography tips that can help you do this.
Search the Destination on Google/Maps
This will help see where you are going and the drive time between certain destinations. You may have many places you want to go to get good photos. It can take a lot of time and planning to get to the right spot when there is good light.
The first thing I do when going to a certain place is I go to Instagram locations. Then under that location, I get ideas of where to go to take pictures. This may be hiking up to a specific rock during sunset to take a good photo with my phone. I also bookmark images where I like their ideas. This may be a style of the shooting or a framing technique.
Use an App
The best travel photography shots can be hard to find, but one tip is to use an app. There are a few apps that show the best places to take pictures. You can try the app called Really Good Photo Spots for Apple or Photomapper: Best photo spots on Android. These apps will decrease the time you spend researching places to shoot.
2. Pack an Extra Battery
When you are on vacation, it is easy to run out the battery on your phone. Taking pictures on your phone takes up more battery than normal use. You may not be in a place to charge your phone so a battery can be helpful.
Travel photography takes time, patience, and a few tips to get the right shot. This means that your phone will use up battery. It is disappointing to wait to get the perfect candid shot. Then to realize that your phone is out of batteries. A simple portable battery pack is easy to use.
There are many types of battery packs. I recommend the Lander Cascade power bank 7800. This is because of the versatility, auto-off saving mode, and the number of charges. The number of times you can charge your phone with the power bank before recharging. The Lander power bank is built for durability and adventure. The grip makes it so you can balance it off in the distance without holding it. I keep one of these with me whenever I am taking pictures in case I need more battery power when I am on the go.
3. Tiny Human
One of the best travel photography tips is to show the scale of a landscape with a person standing in the distance. A person in the distance makes the viewer feel like they are in that shot. This personifies the shot and shows emotions.
The tiny human landscape pictures are all around the internet, especially on Instagram. These images are very trendy right now and are easy to capture. Begin by setting your phone on a rock to scope out a place to stand. Then set up a tripod with your phone to take the shot. Lastly, set the timer or use a remote to take the shot of you as the lone viewer in the beautiful landscape.
4. Capture the Locals
A travel photography tip is to capture people who are different than you. They may have different traditions, food, and culture. That is why they are so interesting and fascinating to capture. One travel photography tip is to capture people’s emotion.
Candid emotion of people in everyday lives relates to our hearts and can bring deep emotions. Take a moment to stop and wait till you can capture the magic in the eyes. Document the situation and create meaning in your shot. This part is hard to capture and will take time to perfect. You may shoot many times and get people too far away or a lack of emotion from the shot. Notice your surroundings, and then stop and take the shot.
When trying to capture emotion ask if you can take someone’s photo. Approaching someone to take a photo may make your nervous. Remember, to be confident and respectful. Introduce yourself and act friendly and explain what you are doing and why. If they say yes then you could offer to send or print them the photo after you take the shot.
5. Use Gridline to Enhance the Shot
The rule of thirds is the most basic rule for composition in photography. By using the rule of thirds, you can improve your photography and create stunning images.
The first step is to divide the image into thirds horizontally. Where do the horizontal lines lie? Are they on the top third, middle or bottom? It is more pleasing if the lines stay away from the center and are either on the top or the bottom third.
If you are shooting a sunset, make sure that the horizontal lines are on either the bottom or top third of the image. By taking the image of the horizon in the center, then the image may look flat. Try shooting from left to right make sure the subject is in the right third or the left third.
To become a better mobile photographer, start by using the rule of thirds. Do this by turning on the grid in the camera settings on your phone. The grid feature will show faint lines as you take a picture so you can position your shot. Once you set the grid lines it will stay on until you turn it off.
- iPhone: Go into settings then camera and toggle on the grid
- Android: Go to settings on the camera and choose the grid
6. Get a Wide Angle Shot
You can miss beautiful scenery with the small lens of a mobile phone. When taking landscape photos with your phone there is so much of the true beauty that is missing. With an add-on-lens, you can approximately double the field of view than that of a standard mobile phone.
Olloclip creates one of the best lenses for taking the best photos with your phone. Olloclip lenses have high-quality optics that will improve your photos. Recently, Olloclip introduced the Multi Clip Ultra-Wide and Telephoto 2x Smartphone Camera Lens. These lenses are great for travel because they are small and take great photos. Instead of carrying a large camera with expensive lenses you can use your phone and add on a small lens.
7. Shoot Travel Photos in RAW
One tip for Mobile travel photography is to shoot in raw. Raw smartphone images are not processed. They contain the data captured on the cell phone camera. These images are for taking a picture and then editing the image in an app. With raw images, you get better edits and can edit the image adding more color and detail. After you edit the image, you can convert the image as a JPG. If you have an android go to the pro settings to shoot in RAW. To shoot in RAW on an iPhone you must use a manual app. VSCO is a free app that allows you the options to shoot in RAW.
8. Ask a Stranger to Take the Shot
You don’t need to take all travel selfies by yourself. You can ask someone to take a picture. This can be scary and it is not a guarantee that you will get a great shot. Here are a few tips. First, set up the shot and then ask someone else to take it. Spend a minute explaining what you are using the picture for. If it is for Instagram take a second to explain that you need it set up a specific way to match your Instagram feed. The next step is to ask someone else to take the picture if the first picture did not turn out well.
9. Capture the City Life or Nature
Cities are a popular travel destination. Cities have a specific life of their own. It can be easy to ask, “How do I capture all the interesting things I see?” Try these travel photography tips as you travel throughout cities or in nature
- Capture a city or street- Do you live in a small town or metropolitan area? What are the iconic locations that people go to hang out? This may be a local dinner if you live in a small town or a mall. Try your cell phone photo skills by capturing the people and the essence of the environment.
- Beach- If you live in a place that is by the sea or next to a lake you can capture some candid shots near a lake. The beach is a great place to capture solitary people walking, or people playing on the beach.
- Bus Stops- These are great places to capture people from all walks of life. They tend to gather waiting for the bus stop. You can see people and what they take on and off buses. Busses provide interesting background and interesting subjects.
- Parks- Parks are gathering places for people to play and to enjoy all sorts of fun. People may gather to have lunch, ride a bike or to play sports. Parks in the spring and summer are often busy and filled with life. In the winter they can be lonely places with a single jogger. This place can be a great place to take everyday photos.
10. Shot Early, or Late
The best time to get out your phone and take a photo is 30 minutes before and after sunrise or sunset. To get a warm glow on your photos by taking landscape photos 30 min after sunrise and before sunset. During blue hour capture the clouds of the sunset 30 min after the sunsets.
Planning to take photos on a trip can be challenging especially if you want to get the best light. Usually, we are out eating dinner during sunset and are not awake during sunrise. It may take some planning and solo time to get great shots at this time.
11. Use a Travel Tripod
If you want to take beautiful photos of landscapes with your phone you will definitely need a tripod. Here are a few tips to look for when buying a tripod you can use for travel photography. First, is the size. With mobile photography size matters, the smaller the better. Joby makes a small tripod for your smartphone that is 7 inches long and can fit into any bag or purse. The GorillaPod comes with adjustable legs that balance on rocks or can wrap around a tree.
Next look for a sturdy tripod. When taking pictures outside something sturdy is important for balance. A cell phone could tip over and get scratched. The Manfrotto Pixi is one of the best small tripods. It is very sturdy and can even hold a regular digital camera without falling over.
12. Frame the Shot
To take an engaging shot often it requires that the viewer knows where to look. Create a frame around the subject. On a landscape, try this travel photography tip with tree branches or rocks. If you travel to a forest you can place the pine boughs as a frame around your shot. This will give it a mysterious feel and make the image seem far away. Use Rocks, flowers, or anything to create a frame in the shot.
13. Edit the Shot
. The last step after you have taken your travel photos is to edit and add a finishing touch. An image may be slightly dark and underexposed. You may want to add more contrast and increase the high dynamic range. There are many other apps that you can use to create greater apps with post-production. Here are a few examples of apps you can use to edit your photos.
The VSCO editing app can enhance your Instagram photos you took with your phone. The free manual mode and the many editing filters and options create a one of a kind app. This app also includes inspirational ways to and connect to other great photographers.
VSCO allows you to edit an image you took in the camera or import an image. You can choose from ten free filters. Continue editing with the countless editing features. It includes 18 different ways to edit your image. I like to use the shadows tint and highlight tint because they are not on other apps like Instagram or Snapseed. You can also create recipes which saves past filters and edits.
You can edit Instagram photos with Snapseed. This app has 13 filters that are easy to use and can add a great touch to your image. Get creative by adding an HDR, or grunge filter. Add one or more filters to get a fantastic image. Use the “tools” to increase the details, structure, saturation, and brightness. This app is one of the best tools to edit mobile photos.
Lightroom CC Mobile’s editing option is one of the greatest ways to edit travel photos. The depth and scope at which you can edit the light in an image are phenomenal. You can easily adjust the color, details, and save your presets. This is a great app to use as you learn how to edit your mobile photos.
As you take stunning travel photography, try these tips for better photos with phones. Research the location to be able to learn new places to visit. Capture the emotions and stories of the locals. Take a different angle to get a better shot and fill the frame. Lastly, when you have a break take the time to edit your shot using VSCO, Lightroom or Snapseed. These tips will help you take better pictures as you travel.
Take a minute to try these tips to become a great smartphone photographer. Want more inspiration? Here are some additional resources that can help you:
Give those tips a read and you’ll be ready with new hacks and tips to help you make the most of your phone’s camera. See our photos on Instagram at @picxtrix.