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Travel Tips: 6 Ways To Take Better Travel Photos With Your iPhone

Who doesn't want to have great photos to look back on after a vacation? Photos remind us of our past memories and help us to make connections for the future. In years past there was a huge barrier to entry with photography. But today photography is everywhere. Almost everyone owns an amazing camera that lives in their pockets at all times. However, just having a great camera doesn't mean you'll get great shots. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your iPhone's camera. 

However, just having a great camera doesn’t mean you’ll get great shots.

1. Prepare Your Phone

Depending on how much storage your phone has, you might need to clear off some old pictures to make room for the new ones. How do you check the storage on your iPhone? Head over to settings and tap 'general', then 'about'. Scroll down, and you'll see how much storage you still have available. If you’re close to running out, you might want to delete some stuff to make room for your new travel shots. You definitely don’t want to run out mid-trip and have to figure it out then. 

2. Download Some Photo Apps

While you're thinking about phone storage, examine the apps you'll be using to take and edit your pictures. The stock photo apps do a decent job of allowing you to take a shot and edit it. If you want more control though, download different apps to fine-tune your image. We like the Obscura camera app. It gives you more control over your focus and exposure settings. The interface looks great and it's easy to use aswell. Once you take your photo, Snapseed or VSCO are great apps to edit the way it looks. Those are just a couple of the options though. The App Store is full of photo apps. Do some exploring and find one that works best for you. 

3. Stop Thinking Of Your Phone As Just A Phone

The next step is a mental one. Stop thinking of your phone's camera as just a phone camera.  The last several iPhones have had amazing cameras and the shots you can get with them can be surprising. Don’t feel like you have to buy an expensive “real” camera to get great shots. A high-end DSLR or mirrorless camera will take higher quality photos, but the phone in your pocket is quite capable. If you start thinking of it that way, it will change the way you approach photography with your phone. 

4. It's All About The Light

Golden hour in San Francisco.

All photography is capturing light. The type of light in your environment will greatly affect the color and look of your photo. Start paying attention to the way light affects colors and shadows. If you’re inside, get away from the fluorescents and try moving closer to natural light from a window or a doorway. If you're outside, pay attention to the location of the sun. Generally, you want the sun to be behind the camera to illuminate your subject, but you can also get some great shots if the sun is behind your subject. Experiment and see what you like best.

The time of day will affect your shot as well. The golden hours are the one hour right after sunrise and the one directly before sunset. Shooting at this time of day will produce gorgeous, even light that will look fantastic. Whereas shooting in the middle of the day, when the sun is right above your subject, can produce weird shadows. Light is incredibly important, but you can't always plan out what time you'll be in a location while traveling. It's much more important to capture your memories than it is to chase the perfect light. 

Make good use of shadows.

5. Improve Your Composition

After the lighting is covered, how should you compose the shot? There are rules about these kinds of things and some photographers get very finicky about them. One of these rules is called the "Rule of Thirds."  The basic idea is that you divide your shot into thirds and place points for interests along those lines. You can see an example of this below. It's pleasing to the eye and allows your viewer to interact with the photo in a natural way. Your iPhone can even overlay this grid for you when you're using different camera apps.

The Rule of Thirds grid.

The rule of thirds isn't the only composition guideline. Google "photo composition" for even more ideas. It's good to know composition rules but sometimes rules are meant to be broken. Don't take everything so seriously. What are some other things to keep in mind? Make sure the horizon is straight, not crooked. Nothing stands out quite like a crooked sky. Don’t get stuck shooting in the same positions you’ve seen someone else shoot. Put the camera low, get above or shoot through trees or glass to get unique results. Experiment, be creative and see what comes from it.

Try shooting from unique angles, like above your subject.

Or from ground level.

It’s good to know composition rules but sometimes rules are meant to be broken. Don’t take everything so seriously.

6. Remove Anything That Distracts From Your Subject

It’s usually best to reduce your shot down to the bare essentials. Try positioning your subject away from distracting elements like other tourists, trash or clutter. You want the emphasis to be on your subject, not something else in the background. If an object doesn't add to the story of your photo, get rid of it.

Simplicity draws the eye to your subject.

It's not always easy to clear the area of distractions.


The iPhone in your pocket is truly remarkable. Almost everyone today is walking around with incredibly capable cameras. But it’s how you use the camera that will set your photos apart. These tips aren't a comprehensive list, but they will help go a long way in improving your travel photography. Do you like taking photos on vacation? What are some of your favorite photography tips? Let us know below in the comments. 


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