Taking Better Vacation Photos: 5 Easy Tips for Getting More From Your Camera Phone

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For many people, travel is a privilege, so it’s important to capture and preserve those precious vacation moments the best you can. The good news is, you don’t need a bulky, pricy camera for this– a humble smartphone camera can actually do wonders if you know what you’re doing.

Whether you’re an aspiring photographer or just looking to elevate your Instagram game, here are some easy tips to help you get the most out of your trusty camera phone.

Understand Your Camera’s Features

Phone cameras have come a long way since their introduction, but it’s true what they say – you (usually) get what you pay for. Older or cheaper smartphone cameras simply cannot compare to the newer models.

This is not to say you need a brand-new smartphone to get great photos – although it wouldn’t hurt! – but it does mean that you need to understand your specific camera’s features and which settings can help you capture different types of scenes with the best results.

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Shot with my iPhone

Whether you have a new or older phone model, take a few moments to explore the camera before you go on vacation. Check out various modes, including Portrait for depth, Night for capturing moments after sunset (don’t forget a tripod!), and Panorama for snapping landscapes.

Familiarize yourself with these modes and experiment at home to see when and which mode, setting, and angle is best for shooting different scenes.

Use Natural Light

Light can make or break a photo, but the good news is that you don’t need any special lighting or even flash – actually, it’s best to not use the flash – to make a great photo. What you need instead is natural light.

Veste Oberhaus, Passau
Veste Oberhaus, Passau

This said, not all natural light is suitable for photos. For instance, harsh midday rays are best avoided as they cast unflattering shadows and can result in overexposed images. Instead, take advantage of the early hours of the morning and late afternoon as the light is softer and creates beautiful warm tones. However, if you want a dramatic, high-contrast shot, feel free to use hard light.

Pay Attention to Focus and Composition

Ever heard of the rule of thirds? In photography, this composition guideline positions your subject in the right or left third of an image, helping you balance the elements in the frame.

iphone photography tips from a pro

Imagine your photo divided into nine equal parts with two vertical and two horizontal lines. By placing your subject – whether that’s your partner, a monument, or a tree – along these lines or at their intersections, you can create a visually pleasing photo.

Oh, and don’t forget to tap on your screen to focus accurately – a simple trick that can instantly improve the quality of your photo.

Experiment with Angles

Like light, angles directly impact the aesthetic of a photo. So, don’t be shy to play with angles! Crouch down for a ground-level shot that adds drama, or find a high spot for a unique perspective.

For example, holding your phone camera at a high position – above your eye level – allows you to capture further into the background. A low-angle shot is great for making your subject look bigger and wider.

Changing angles can add depth to your photos and keep things interesting. Even if you have an old phone, finding the perfect angle can make a photo look amazing.

Create a Photo Book

Once you’ve mastered the art of taking stunning vacation photos, it’s time to craft your own photo book. It’s like turning your travel adventures into a tangible piece of art that you can flip through whenever you want.

To create a beautiful photo book, select your very best shots and think about the flow or how you want the story to unfold as you or your guests flip through the pages. Take your time to organize your photos so the “story” makes sense.

You can do this chronologically or thematically, and adding captions or short descriptions is great for providing context. There are plenty of online platforms that make crafting a photo book a breeze, and Mixbook is one of our favorites. It’s easy to use, super-customizable, and makes crafting travel books fun.

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