How To Take Awesome Vacation Photos With Your Smartphone

By: Andres Torres | Published: 12/27/2019 | 3 Mins

6 tips on how to use your handheld device to capture stunning images on your next vacation.

With the advent of social media and photo-focused websites such as Instagram and Tumblr, posting photos of your vacation has become as important as the vacation itself. After all, the trip didn’t really happen unless it’s documented on the ‘Gram, right? 
It used to be that you needed an expensive camera and countless accessories such as lenses, batteries and stabilization equipment to be able to capture high quality images of your trip. This meant having to lug around a bulky camera bag everywhere you go, which is not the most ideal thing when you’re trying to relax on a beach or explore a new city. 
“The best camera is the one that’s with you” 
-Chase Jarvis
Luckily, we live in an era where the average person carries a powerful device capable of taking high quality photos right in their pocket. The arrival of smartphones has made it easy for travelers to document their expeditions, regardless of their level of expertise. However, a good camera does not a good picture make (thanks, Aristotle). Camera specs such as Megapixels, Optical Image Stabilization, and HDR are important, but they won’t be much help if you are not following the basic principles of photography.
Here are 10 tips on How To Take Awesome Vacation Photos With Your Smarphone:
1. Focus!
One great thing about smartphone cameras is how easy it is to focus on a specific subject in the frame. Simply tap the screen on the person or object you want to focus on, and voila! This will circumvent the smartphone’s auto mode and give you the creative control you need to capture memorable images.
2. No Flash!
Great photos are about finding natural (or artificial) lighting and manipulating it to your advantage. Unless you are doing something that requires flash, such as high-speed photography (not a likely scenario for a vacation), it’s best to turn this feature off, as the bright flash will usually wash out the subject of the photo you are trying to capture. Be creative! Train yourself to find a light source and use it to your advantage. 
3. Take Horizontal Photos!
I understand the default way to hold your phone is vertically, so when you pull your device out to snap a photo, typically your first instinct is to hold it in the vertical orientation. Unfortunately, this practice makes for some less-than-great photographs. By simply holding your phone horizontally, you will have a much wider canvas that will allow you to capture more of what you’re looking at. Horizontal photography also facilitates the use of the rule of thirds, a basic principle of photography that provides you a framing device to ensure optimal photo composition. 
4. Use the volume button.
Have you ever framed your shot exactly the way you wanted it, only to mess it up by having to tap the button on your screen to snap the picture? I have, and it can be quite frustrating. Luckily, there’s a simple solution: take the photo using the volume minus button on the side of your phone. 
5. Stabilization.
An unstable camera is a sure fire way to end up with a batch of blurry photos. There are many ways to stabilize your smartphone camera. If you don’t own any stabilization equipment, hold the phone with both hands and keep your elbows close to your body. Another useful hack is to use a timer so as to avoid having to touch the camera to capture the image. For optimal camera stabilization, invest in a small portable tripod. If you are constantly on the move or on shaky ground, consider using a gimbal to help keep your camera steady. 
6. Tell a story.
Before taking a photograph, ask yourself what story you are trying to tell with this particular image. Great art is created with a purpose in mind, and vacation photos are no different. Focus on the small details that drive home the story of your experience, rather than things that simply ‘look cool’. And, most importantly, have fun! Enjoy your vacation and it will surely reflect in the images you capture. Snap away!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive expert tips to plan your perfect vacation.