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How to Take the Perfect Travel Photos with Your Smartphone

How to Take the Perfect Travel Photos with Your Smartphone

You don’t have to have a fancy camera to take amazing travel photos. In fact, with the high-quality cameras that are on most smartphones nowadays, there’s almost no need to invest in a clunky DSLR if your photos are only for personal use. However, there are a few strategies you can use to make sure that you capture your travels just as you remember them: immersive and stunning.

 

Use the Rule of Thirds. Let’s get this one out of the way right off the bat. We’ve all heard it ... and we've all forgotten it in the moment of capturing a beautiful landscape. Use the rule of thirds when taking photographs. When your subject is centered, the image becomes static, with nothing drawing your eye or creating a direction. The rule of thirds creates dynamism and energy in the photo.

 

Seek out good light. There’s a reason why sunrises and sunsets create some of the most incredible photos: they emphasize the role of light. But getting up early or waiting around until sunset aren’t the only ways you can utilize this element in your travel photos. Take advantage of interesting angles — beside a building as the sun peaks over the tops of the city or in a café while the sunlight streams through a window. Search for ways to utilize light in ways that create interest in the photo.

 

Wait it out. Okay, you might not need to wait around until sunset to find light, but it’s still a good idea to stick around a little longer than usual. After most of the other tourists have gone home, you'll get a much clearer view of your subject, whether that be a white sandy beach or a historic temple. Just an extra half-hour can make a world of difference.

 

Get candid shots. In a society that’s all about getting the perfect selfie, it’s easy to think that the best shots are perfectly orchestrated. But that’s not always the case. Travel photography is about capturing a moment in time, and sometimes that’s just as much about the laughter and joy of that moment as it is about the setting and location.

 

By all means — avoid the “point and shoot.” We all do it. Especially with high-quality cameras in the palms of our hands, it’s so simple to hold the camera up, say “smile!” and snap a shot. But let’s be honest: those photos are boring. Take advantage of the unique details of your location by using different angles and perspectives: peek around the corner of a brick building or crouch low to catch the texture of a cobblestone street. These minor details are small but powerful.

 

Be friendly. We love a good landscape, but people make up the culture of a place. It’s much easier to ask to photograph a local after you’ve smiled, said hello, and had a conversation. Build trust with a potential subject by asking for directions or a restaurant recommendation before you ask — in their own language — if you can take their photo.

 

Focus on the foreground. This can be something extremely simple: a flower, a glass of wine, an out-of-focus child playing in the sand. Adding something to the foreground of your photo not only ensures that you’re paying attention to the whole picture (and not just the subject), but it also creates depth to a scene that otherwise might look a little flat.

 

Get lost. Some of the best locations are the ones that are found by accident. Of course, you want to be sure that you’re in a safe area of the city, but wandering is a great way to get inspired and find the local culture that can be otherwise invisible in the midst of a busy tourist street. Not only are locals more likely to take interest in you there, but you’re also more likely to find opportunities for unique photographs that you can’t find by simply Googling the city.

 

Skip the filters. We get it; filters are fun, especially for your Instagram feed. But taking photos with a preset filter hinders your flexibility later on. Let’s say you take a stunning photo of the Swiss Alps and later want to convert it to a grayscale image for your living room; if you took the photo with a filter already on it, it’s going to be much more difficult to get a realistic-looking black-and-white to show off in your home.

 

Enjoy yourself. Travel photography is a great way to capture the memories of a trip — but if you’re too focused on the camera to enjoy the trip itself, then it’s not worth it. Don’t be afraid to put down the camera and be in-the-moment. It will make the photos that you do take much more special later on.

 

 

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