Snap Snap: Smart-Phone Photography Tips

The camera on Smartphones from Apple, Samsung, Sony and more, are often the biggest selling points for your phone. These days, you don’t see a lot of tourists with big and bulky cameras, as their phones often suffice. They are too difficult to hold for “Selfies”.

Phones with multiple-camera setups are now the norm for flagship, and even medium range devices, carrying two, three, four, and sometimes even five cameras, not including the front facing ones! And then, the quality of these cameras is just tremendous – to the point that tech experts are now comparing them to professional DSLRs!

Here, we bring you some essential travel photography tips with your camera phone, so you’ll be able to take great holiday photos, capture inspiring and memorable moments, and be the envy of your Facebook friends!

Consider your lighting

Smart-Phone Photography is the art of capturing light – and so you can’t have photos without decent lighting. Use light to your advantage at all times. Try to frame your subjects in front of the light rather than behind them and limit the use of flash. The use of flash in artistic photography is generally frowned upon, as it makes your subjects look 10 times bigger and makes the images look flat.

So, look for natural light (or artificial lighting if you’re indoors), position your subject in front of it, and shoot away.

You also want to shoot during the golden and blue hours. These are known in the industry as the “magic hours”, where the best lighting could be had.

The Golden Hour is when the sun is low in the sky, giving off a warm glow. This can be captured just before sunrise or the last hour before the sunset.

On the other hand, the Blue Hour is when the sun is below the horizon already, but still gives off enough light. This is ideal for some city vista shots or some landscape scenes.

Observing the “Rule of Thirds”

Essential to any photographer’s knowledge is the rule of thirds, which is a general rule about how to compose a photograph. This can spell the difference between a good photo and an awesome, award-winning capture.

Basically, what you do is imagine you have 9 even squares on your screen or viewfinder. Several cameras even already do this for you (just tinker around the menus, you’ll eventually find it). What you do is to place your subject where the lines intersect, which also means you try avoiding placing your subject in the middle of the shot.

Remember though, rules are made to be broken, but you can’t break the rule unless you master it. If you see a better composition that works for the situation, go for it.

“Frame” your subjects properly

Composing is one thing, framing is another. You should make sure that when you take a shot, you’re not accidentally including or excluding anything. If you’re doing a whole body shot, don’t cut off the head or the feet (as it will look and feel awkward). If you’re shooting a monument or a mountain that won’t fit the entire screen, use your judgment as to how to properly frame it. Sometimes, there are things that you can cut off the frame for the sake of aesthetics… but more often than not, a complete view of a subject is better.

Use the features on your phone

Nowadays, most smartphones aren’t just considered as basic “point-and-shoot” cameras. They have up zoom functionalities, 4k recording capabilities, wide angle lenses, macro, and so on.

It’d be best if you spend some time with your phone and tinker with the camera settings before you start snapping away.

If your phone has multiple cameras, then it may be capable of zoom, which will allow you to take photographs of people, animals, or structures from far away.

Do you have a view of a lovely landscape in front of you? Or maybe you want to capture the massive cruise ship docking before you? Check if you have a wide angle lens, which is perfect for these moments! You can also use the wide angle to take shots of people and want to include the background behind them.


Because of their small and light nature, keeping your arm steady while taking a shot might become a challenge, especially if you’re shooting under low light conditions.

Before you take the shot, look for something to stabilize yourself with. You can lean on a wall, or a pole, or rest your elbows on a table. This will greatly improve your stability and give you a great shot without the blurred faces.

Ask permission

Arguably the best tip we can give you is to ask people for permission to shoot. You don’t want to spoil your day in the middle of an argument with the locals whom you just shot candidly. You wouldn’t want strangers taking photos of you now, would you? Generally, areas have rules where there’s no photography allowed. But when in doubt, it always pays to ask. You might even learn a bit about the place or culture, which is always a bonus perk to photography in our book!

Travelling will let you experience the world in a whole other way… while photography will allow you to see the world in a different light, both literally and figuratively, now that you know how important light is.

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