9 Tips for Taking Unforgettable Travel Pics with Your Smartphone

March 6, 2019 |

9 Tips for Taking Unforgettable Travel Pics with Your Smartphone

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take unforgettable travel pics. In fact, all you need to catalog your journeys is your smartphone. Technology has made that mini computer in your pocket a powerful tool for capturing all your travel moments.

If you want to bring home more than mental memories from your next trip, use these nine tips for taking unforgettable travel pics with your smartphone.

Strategies for Taking Unforgettable Travel Pics with Your Smartphone

1. Find a focus. When you turn your smartphone camera on, it will automatically focus on whatever is in the foreground. If you want to focus on something in the background or in another particular part of your screen, tap on the part of the screen where you want the camera to focus.

While we’re on the topic of focus, try to pick one subject to focus on in each shot. Tapping that subject on your smartphone screen will help the camera optimize lighting and movement for that subject and should result in a better picture.

2. Capture casual shots. Mix in at least a few images that don’t involve people looking at the lens. You’ll get a mixture of posed shots and candid emotions that will make for a more interesting scrapbook or realistic collage of your trip.

Pro tip: “If you’re on a trip visiting many places, take a picture of the name of where you are (i.e., Brandenberg Gate). You may not think you would forget, but once you return, it can become quite confusing to remember. I even take pictures of the hotels and other information to remember upon my return.” — Travel Advisor Lisa Salloum

3. Use a third-party camera app. Your smartphone comes with some pretty good software, but adding a third-party camera app will give you more advanced features like filters, tools, white balance adjustment and the option to shoot RAW (uncompressed) footage that you can perform advanced editing on back home.

4. Practice the principle of fours. With such a powerful tool in your pocket, it’s easy to keep your smartphone in your hand, with the camera app on all the time. The downside to this is that you may not be as present as you’d like on your actual trip and you end up with more pictures than you need. The principle of fours can help you get enough shots to capture the highlights of your trip without being a slave to your smartphone. Make it your goal to capture every setting on your trip with just four shots. Once you have them, put your phone away and enjoy the activity!

5. Use the rule of thirds. Your smartphone has a handy little feature called grids or gridlines within its built-in camera app. Use them to frame out more interesting and dynamic shots. The rule of thirds is the idea that a photo splits into three sections vertically and horizontally into nine total parts. Framing something of interest along these lines results in a more compelling, balanced and engaging shot.

6. Put your phone on airplane mode when you’re getting ready to take a shot. This way you won’t have your perfect picture interrupted by a call, text or email notification.

7. Instead of selfies, ask a stranger to take your photo. You’ll get a better image, meet some locals and just may have a story or two to take home.

8. Don’t zoom. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s better to get more of your surroundings in the frame than to crop it out with your smartphone’s zoom feature. Instead, edit, zoom and crop to your heart’s content when you return home.

9. Embrace empty space. We started on focus and we’re ending on it as well because it’s the most important compositional element of a photo. Empty or ‘negative’ space is just the area around your subject. Including a lot of negative space around your subject will help your eye focus on your subject, which will result in a more compelling, engaging and visually stimulating photograph.


There are many more tips for taking unforgettable travel pics with your smartphone. This list barely scratches the surface. For more tips, check out this list from Hubspot or do a Google search on the topic.

For help planning your next getaway, give one of our travel advisors a call or connect online today. We look forward to helping you find the perfect location for your next photo shoot!