We all have such powerful cameras built right into our phones, that it makes travel photography really accessible to everyone. You can certainly still carry around a full DSLR camera with you (as I do with my Nikon D3300), but it’s so easy to snap a great photo using your iPhone. I utilize both my DSLR and my iPhone for my travel photography, since they’re both handy in different situations. And there are plenty of times when I’m caught without my DSLR so my iPhone camera is the name of the game. In order to take better travel photos with your iPhone, there are some tips and tricks you can use. Plus practice makes perfect, so you’d better keep traveling and photographing it! Here are 10 tips to help you take better travel photos with your iPhone. (And watch the video for a visual demonstration of these tips!)
How to Take Better Travel Photos with Your iPhone
1 | First start by making sure the lens is clean. We don’t use lens protectors on our iPhone like we would on a DSLR, and so the lens is exposed to all the dirty fingers and surfaces and pockets that touch it. Give it a wipe off to make sure you’re shooting through a clean and clear lens.
2 | I like to use an app called VSCO to split the focus and exposure points on the photo. When you tap to focus on the camera app, you get focus and exposure in the same point but sometimes you want them split. In poor lighting situations you may want to focus on an object in the sun but scale the exposure to the objects in the shade. In this case, you can create two focal points on the photo. (See video for demonstration.)
3 | Utilize HDR. The High Definition Resolution setting in the camera app is a quick and easy way to take better travel photos with your iPhone. In this setting, the camera takes one photo at high exposure and one at low exposure, then compiles them into an average of the two. This gives the over- and under-exposed parts of the photo each better lighting. It’s a great trick to create beautiful lighting in your photo!
4 | Turn on the grid. With the 3×3 grid display on your camera, it’s easier to make use of the rule of thirds. For those that are unfamiliar, the rule of thirds tells us that when shooting a photo, we should put the focal point of the photo (the object or person or horizon) at 1/3 of the photo. Frame the photo so that the focal point lies on the 1/3 horizontal line, the 1/3 vertical line, or at the intersection of those 1/3 lines. The grid function makes it easier to take advantage of this rule, and take more visually-interesting photos.
5 | Try the portrait mode. The latest version of the iPhone has a portrait mode which can help to give your photos a professional look. In this feature, you focus on something close and then the background is blurred slightly. This mimics the features of a proper DSLR and is a lot of fun to play with!
6 | Use panorama, but not the way you normally would. Instead of just using the panorama function to take wide skinny photos of the horizon, turn your phone and use panorama to stretch the photo vertically. This can come in handy when you’re photographing something tall like the Burj Khalifa or the giant redwood trees! You can also utilize panorama horizontally but much shorter to give the photo a wide angle lens effect. (Watch the video to see what I mean.)
7 | Don’t zoom. The iPhone does not have strong zoom functions. Instead, you should utilize what I like to call manual zoom…where you get closer to the thing you’re taking a picture of! Zooming in on the iPhone makes the photo rather blurry and you lose considerable clarity in the photo.
8 | Take photos of things besides the tourist attractions. Try to notice when you’re traveling what are the things that make the destination special, all the little details that add up to creating that full experience. And then try to photograph all the details and moments around the attractions, like the couple having a picnic under the Eiffel Tower or the bird perched on the statue beside the Eiffel Tower, instead of just photographing the Eiffel Tower itself. It takes some practice but if you can retrain your eye to see photographable moments all around then you’ll come back with photos that better represent the place and the experience of being there!
9 | Edit your photos. Every good photo you see on Instagram or in the travel magazines is edited, so yours should be too! Start by going into the photos app and pulling up the edits dial. And instead of just sliding the light and color scales, click into those scales for the fine-tuning options. This will give you greater control of the editing process. One edit I always do first is brilliance. It brings out the best lighting and coloring in your photo and can really enhance your photos on a first try. Then from there, play with the other edits to see how you like the lighting and coloring to look.
10 | You should also play around with the photo editing apps. There are a ton of great ones, but some of my favorites are VSCO, Darkroom, Snapseed, and Color Story. These apps give you even more control of the editing of your photos. They also come with preset edit packages so you can see how a final edit could look on the photo using different editing styles.
Keep photographing your travels until you hone in on your own photography style. The best way to get better is just to keep practicing! I hope you found these tips for taking better travel photos with your iPhone useful, and I hope you’ll share the results of your work with me!