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7 Tips to Take Great Travel Photos on Your iPhone

By Amy Wright | May 9, 2018

Have you ever returned from a fantastic vacation, only to find that you’re disappointed with the quality of your photos? Instead of artistic representations of wonderful memories, you find a collage of blurred images that just don’t seem to capture the spirit of your trip. You may feel that the only way to get truly decent photos is to invest in a better camera. But it is possible to take great travel photos using just your iPhone!

An iPhone Camera Vs. A Traditional DSLR Camera

A professional DSLR camera will undoubtedly produce photos with a higher image resolution, but you can’t deny that the iPhone camera is practical and convenient. You’ve likely seen a classic “tourist” in the past with a gigantic DSLR camera weighing them down. Unless you’re well trained the use of such expensive equipment and have all the necessary accessories, you may discover that your holiday snaps look much the same as they did when you took them on your iPhone.

So, what’s the trick to taking truly impressive travel photos? The fact is, it has less to do with the equipment and more to do with the photographer. With the advances in iPhone camera technology, many are finding that an iPhone provides high-quality images, but with less fussing around. No need to worry about missing an exciting shot with an iPhone camera – you really can just point and shoot. In fact, many tourism websites, such as Cafe Bus Winery Tours, now use iPhone images as part of their advertising as they are better able to capture a genuine moment.

In fact, with a little preparation and forethought, you can capture the essence of truly wonderful memories. The following 7 tips will help you take great travel photos using just your iPhone.

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Take Time to Do A Little Research

Are you interested in architecture? Cultural displays? Natural landscapes? Decide what kind of things you want to see and then take the time to do some research. Does this particular destination appear at its best at sunrise? Sunset? Does fog generally come in at a particular time of day? Understanding the weather could be a deciding factor in whether or not your iPhone photo is a masterpiece or a disappointment. Bear in mind that doing a little research on the culture of the place you visit could work to your advantage as well. In some countries, photographing certain buildings or infrastructure is prohibited. Understand what will and won’t cause offense, and remember, no travel snap is worth spending time in a foreign prison.

Dust, dirt or grease can all build-up on a camera lens, causing foggy looking images.

Have Your Camera Ready

Just because you’re using an iPhone camera doesn’t mean that preparation is not required. High-resolution images will create large files, so ensure you have plenty of storage, either on your phone or via cloud-based software. Using your iPhone for taking photos will also drain the battery faster, so make sure it’s fully charged in advance, or consider bringing along a portable battery charger in case of emergency. Finally, if your iPhone was tossed in a bag for half the journey then it’s likely the lens will have been contaminated. Dust, dirt or grease can all build-up on a camera lens, causing foggy looking images. Either carry a soft microfiber cloth with you specifically for this purpose or else use an alternate clean, soft piece of fabric (a T-shirt will do in a pinch) to clean the lens.

User holding pinecone

Don’t Get Caught Up in Cliché Shots

Have you ever seen a photo of a friend pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa or sitting astride a camel in front of the Pyramids of Giza? So has everybody else. While there’s nothing wrong with visiting iconic landmarks and taking holiday photos, wouldn’t it be nice if your shots looked just a little different to the 80,000 cliché photos already doing the rounds on social media? Try and think outside the box. Move around, experiment with lighting and angles, and look for opportunities to capture well-known locations from different perspectives. Since you’ve got plenty of storage space on your iPhone don’t be afraid of testing out new shots. If you’re unhappy with how some of them turn out, you can always delete them. But the more photos you take, the more options you’ll have to choose from.

Portray the Local Culture

It’s often the people you meet that really make a place memorable, so why not include elements of the local culture in your travel photos? This could be as simple as snapping a quick shot of a bustling marketplace or a busy road. But if you take the time to interact with some of the locals, you may have an opportunity to take some stunning local portraits. Remember that the polite approach is always to ask a person’s permission before you photograph them; learning a few simple phrases or downloading a translation app may be all that is necessary to break the ice and gain permission. An iPhone camera is excellent for capturing the essence of an environment since people often feel more relaxed having their photo taken on a phone then they would if it was an imposing DSLR.

Want to turn your iPhone photos into canvas prints or framed prints?
Print your iPhone Photos

Include a Subject to Create Depth

Endless salt deserts and white sandy beaches may appear breathtaking in real life, but photos of beautiful scenery often come across looking a little flat and dull. This can be solved by including a subject within the image – either yourself, a travelling companion or a willing local. Having a person in the shot helps to create depth within a photo. It gives your eye a focal point and thereby allows you to better appreciate the scope of the scenery. You can better understand the vastness of a landscape if you have a person to scale it off. If you’re traveling alone, the timer function on your iPhone camera may come in handy with these sorts of photos.

Pay Attention to Small Details

When traveling to exotic locations for the first time, it’s easy to be so overawed by the bigger things that we miss out on some of the smaller details. Look for opportunities to record textures, patterns or colours that are unique to the destination – within the food, the architecture, even the clothing. A close-up photo of intricate latticework on the side of an ancient building makes for an interesting change within a travel album, as well as adding further flavor to your holiday snaps. Extending beyond just man-made things, you’ll find many opportunities to capture small details in natural settings: a unique plant or animal, a shell on a background of sand, or a particular array of pebbles on a riverbed.

Remember That Your Photos Should Tell a Story

The best holiday photos are the ones that tell a good story. The “burst” function on the iPhone is an excellent way to capture micro stories as they happen, allowing you to then choose the perfect moment as a memento. It could be the moment a gust of wind blows away someone’s hat, the second when a child receives a surprise or the flash of recognition in a person’s eyes when they see their loved one at the airport. Having an iPhone at the ready makes it possible to record these interesting stories. While some stories are self-explanatory in a photo, others will prompt questions. This element of mystery (“what’s happening there?” “who is that?” “what happened next?”) will give you the chance to tell some of your travel stories to an interested audience.

Regardless of how artistic you may or may not be, with a little practice, you can come home with an album full of travel shots that no one will ever believe were taken on an iPhone. Don’t be afraid to take the time to frame the perfect shot – after all, momentarily looking like a tourist is preferable to coming home regretting missed photo opportunities.

Want to turn your iPhone photos into canvas prints or framed prints?
Print your iPhone Photos
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