When we go traveling, we see get to see some incredible things. Sometimes, we wish we could stay in a particular moment forever. Whilst this isn’t possible for many of us with our “regular” lives waiting for us to return to, we at least have a means to capture the moment forever: through taking photos. Photography whilst on an adventure is a top priority for both amateur and veteran travelers alike. They’re a brilliant way to not only share your journey with friends and family but also to ensure your memories stay vivid and top-of-mind.
■ That being said – a bulky and expensive DSLR camera might not be a great solution for you (but if it is, that’s great too!). Fortunately, modern day technology has improved so much that our own phones can take pretty amazing photos. Not only that, but a wide array of editing apps exist to make your photos look as though they were taken by an experienced professional.
So, we thought we’d write a short list of 10 ways to take better photos with your phone whilst traveling. Incorporating just a few little tips and tricks can truly make a world of difference, bringing your memories to life for others to enjoy.
1. Ensure you have memory space / battery life
It may sound stupid, but this is a classic and deserves to be the first tip on our list. You don’t want to spend hours of precious time on your trip searching through old albums of photos on your phone, figuring out which ones to delete to make space. Prepare in advance, and ensure you have enough memory space to take as many photos as you’d like without worry.
■ Alternatively, there are Cloud purchase options for extra storage if you’re in a crunch for time, too. Also, be sure to take a portable charger! These are normally at the top of everyone’s packing list, but it’s worth mentioning – if you’re relying on your phone for photos, you’ll want to make sure you check it remains charged enough to do so.
2. Learn the photo features on your phone
■ Many of our phones today have features that we still have no idea exist. Whether it’s portrait-mode, self-timers or varying exposures, it’s worth taking the time to fully learn what your phone is capable of when it comes to taking photos. You’ll likely be surprised and will have some great new tools to help liven up your photos as you take them.
3. Think outside the box
The best photos aren’t always necessarily the landscapes or the old buildings – sometimes they’re a close-up headshot of a stray dog you met along the way! Be as creative as you can, as there really are no limits to what you can capture with your camera.
■ Instead of trying to force an image that you’ve told yourself you really want into your camera frame, keep an open mind and take spontaneous photos of anything and everything that you think is cool.
4. It’s all about perspective
■ With the majority of the glamorous travel photos that we see on Instagram today, perspective is what makes a shot jump out and scream “professional.” It’s often subtle, but the angle a photo is taken from can drastically affect the final result. For example, photos of the ocean, taken from low-down on the beach with sand in the fore front is a crowd favorite. It immediately changes the photo from an average coastline shot that everyone has seen, into an insight of what it’s like to be relaxing on your very own beach in front of the waves. The texture of the sand becomes visible, and the scale of the ocean becomes apparent.
■ Another tip on perspective: if you’re elevated somewhere, consider taking a birds-eye view shot of what lies below – we’re often tempted to photograph the landscape as we look outwards, but remember to look in every direction, you will be pleasantly surprised
5. It’s not all about you
As harsh as it may sound, what we mean by this one is that all of your photos don’t have to be of yourself (or your incredible view). It’s great to have a person / people as a focal point for your photo, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be of you or your friends.
■ Consider reaching out to the locals and taking portrait photos of them (with their consent, of course!). Tell them a funny joke or ask them to tell a story about their life and try to grab a great candid shot – after all, a picture speaks a thousand words!
6. Focus on the finer things
■ One thing that frequent travelers notice as they hop from country to country is that intricate details on items vary a tremendous amount. Whether it’s on fabrics, brickwork, or general décor, the fine details which make up patterns are closely tied with their cultural origins. As such, it’s worth spending a bit of time examining items and areas up-close, seeing if there is something beautifully intricate worth capturing in a photo. It makes for a great, unique shot that others might not have ever seen before.
More often than not, you’ll soon find yourself spotting such fine details everywhere and your camera roll will be filled with incredible patterns from all over the world!
7. Lighting is key
Believe it or not, something as simple as the time of day can be the difference between your photo looking like it came straight out of a travel magazine and it looking like one your grandmother took at a wedding after one too many drinks! Whatever the outside conditions are, ensuring your photo has the correct exposure / white balance settings is key. Ideally, morning and evening sunlight is best for many portraits / landscapes. The diffraction of the light as the sun touches the horizon can produce a beautiful array of colours. “Golden hour” is very real, and you should absolutely make the most of it!
■ Time of day aside, it’s still important to ensure the angles of lighting are highlighting what you want the focal point of your image to be. Tap on your phone screen to focus – if you want a silhouette image, focus on the bright light in the background to bring the overall exposure down.
8. Divide the scene
■ A common trick among photographers when deciding where to position their main focal point within the camera frame is to divide the scene into three. That is to say, mentally split the camera screen on your phone into three equal strips – a left, a center, and a right. Now, instead of having your main focal point of interest in the center of your image, try adjusting your camera angle so that the main focus appears in either the left, or right strip.
Another way of thinking about it is your main focus item (be it a person or a building etc.) is located either 1/3 of the way into the image or 2/3 of the way. When deciding which side to position the item of interest within the scene, simply choose the side with a less interesting background (as this will instead be covered). This technique produces compelling images, time and time again!
9. Use photo-editing apps
■ There are an incredible amount of (free) photo-editing apps available for both iPhones and Androids – it would be a shame to not utilize them. Many are extremely easy to use, so don’t fear if you feel you’re not technologically gifted. Just a slight adjustment in exposure, color, and/or contrast can bring your photo to life.
Don’t feel as though it’s cheating, it’s not – you’re simply enhancing the image to match what you saw with your own eyes.
10. Take as many photos as you can
■ … we don’t think this one really needs much of an explanation!
So, now you’ve read these tips, you go off on your adventure. After your trip, you travel back home and can’t wait to show your friends and family the amazing time you had through your photos. They enjoy looking at them with you, and you feel suitably proud of your photography skills. The phone goes back into your pocket and you carry on going about your day. The issue is, before you know it, weeks have passed and you haven’t looked at your photos since your first day back. But what can you do? After all, you have thousands of other images in your phone’s photo albums that you rarely look at.
■ You should always think about printing your photos upon your return! It’s a shame how many of our photos become lost in the graveyards of our phone’s photo albums, only to be viewed once in a blue moon. Printing pictures from your phone is easier than ever with apps such as Shutterfly; with physical copies of your best moments, you’ll be sure to travel down memory lane more often and relive your amazing adventures.
Now go on an adventure and be your own photographer!
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