Photos have become such an important part of our lives, especially now in the digital age where we can easily share memories and connect with our friends wherever we are in the world. Taking good photos is a great way to tell a story, express how you feel, and let brief moments live on through a permanent picture. Travelling is always a perfect time to take as many photos as you can. Based on my experience, all the memories from a vacation eventually become a blur and jumble up as the years go by no matter how hard you want to remember everything.
I think this is a natural occurrence for everyone, which is why taking photos while travelling is all the more important because photos will preserve the memories you might lose. You don’t need a big camera like a DSLR to take good photos. What matters is that you’re using a camera you’re comfortable with, and in the case of many, it’s usually their smartphone cameras. Here are tips for you to practice in order to take better travel photos using your smartphone.
1. Clean your lens
When we travel, it’s inevitable that our smartphone cameras accumulate dust or fog up. Not everyone notices it at first, but the quality of the photo is definitely jeopardized if you’re not careful. If you see a glaring ray of light coming from a light source in your photo, that means your lens is dusty. If the photo you took is blurred and looks too smooth, that means your lens is fogged up. Thankfully, smartphone cameras are the easiest ones to clean. Just wipe a clean cloth on it to remove whatever is troubling your shot. You can even use your shirt or handkerchief for this, so there’s no excuse for your shots to be anything less than clear.
2. Understand your subject
Like I said previously, it doesn’t matter if you have a professional camera or not. Aside from choosing a comfortable camera, what’s just as important is that you know and understand what you actually want to take a photo of. Are you taking a photo of beautiful mountains or would you like to focus on a person amidst the scenery? Who are you taking a photo of and what kind of photo does your friend prefer? Which is more suitable for the scene, a portrait or full body shot? There are a lot of factors to take into consideration, the point being that you shouldn’t just keep shooting without giving your photo a little thought. If you’re travelling with friends, it would be quite useful to show each other pegs on how you want each other’s photo to be taken. You’ll all be happy campers with amazing photos at the end of the experience!
3. Learn to compose your shot
It also helps to read up on photography composition and techniques, such as rule of thirds and angles. Some smartphone cameras now come with a grid of lines divided into thirds both horizontally and vertically. When you apply the rule of thirds, you place your subject along the lines where the points intersect. This makes the overall photo easy on the eyes and will make it look more professional. Also, don’t forget to play with angles, especially if your subject is a person. Remember, you don’t just take photos while standing up. You can crouch, bend, and even step on something to bring variety to your angles and shots. We don’t just want our travel photos to look pristine, but stylish too, don’t we?
4. Find your light
I can’t emphasize this enough. Lighting is crucial. If you have bad lighting, then everything else gets affected. Editing apps can only make up for so much, and smartphones can’t really adjust aperture and shutter speed like DSLRs to manipulate the amount of light that goes through the lens. The good part is that sometimes it’s easier to find light when you travel because you’re always out. Make use of natural light, or even windows when you snap a photo. This is also useful when you take selfies with your friends. In fact, it’s a common tip famous models and bloggers give when they’re asked about how they take their photos.
5. Wait until people are far from you
If you’re taking photos of streets, markets, or outdoor tourist attractions, you’re bound to bump into a lot of tourists that will unconsciously photobomb your shot. The trick is to not have them too close to the camera even if they’re ahead of you. It’s alright to include people in your photos, it will actually make the photo look more natural and candid. But wait until they’re at least 10 steps ahead before you take the shot. This will make the photo look less crowded and the photobombers won’t feel too in your face when you look at your photo.
6. Crop and don’t zoom
It is better to take a wide-angled shot or landscape of a view then crop it afterwards than to zoom in right away. Zooming in already damages the quality of the photo. If you look closely, it doesn’t look as sharp as when you take a wide shot of the whole scene, especially if you’re using a smartphone. You might as well take a photo of the whole thing. If you want to hone in on a particular area, crop the photo. It’s a win-win situation because you’ll have the wide and narrower version.
7. Edit and don’t filter
Whenever you have problems with brightness, contrast, saturation, and even temperature, you can fix all of these through editing your photo on your smartphone. I’m sure all smartphones have built-in editing apps, make use of them. Avoid downloading apps just to get new filters to wash out your photo. Relying on filters can make your photos look almost unrealistic and too manipulated. Editing, on the other hand, will retain the photo’s uniqueness. Plus, you can customize your own style in editing instead of using predetermined looks that filters offer. Using filters isn’t bad, but travel is a luxury and your travel photos might be better off reflecting your own sense of style and original creativity.
Travel photography shouldn’t intimidate you. It is something everyone can easily get on board with because we all have access to good cameras thanks to our smartphones. You should take advantage of the gadgets you’re accustomed to, to help you make your travels more memorable. Smartphone cameras are efficient enough to capture great moments, as long as you know how to utilize them properly. This may take some practice, but eventually, you’ll develop a good eye for photography and following these steps will become second nature. Enjoy the experience, and keep on shooting!