10 Secrets For Taking Incredible iPhone Travel Photos
Summarized with permission from our friends at the iPhonePhotographySchool.
Is The iPhone Really All You Need?
The purpose of travel photography is to document your journey and experiences. Images serve as memories that will last a lifetime, and it’s likely that you’ll want to share them with family, friends and your social media followers.
While the image resolution and quality might be higher on a DSLR or other high-end camera, the iPhone wins on portability and convenience. Not only is the iPhone compact, lightweight and great for taking photos quickly and discreetly, but you’re going to be carrying it with you anyway so there’s no need to take any extra equipment.
The most important aspect of travel photography is to document the story of the locations you visit and the time that you spend there. Your iPhone can easily be the best travel camera, as long as you take some basic steps to prepare for your trip and follow these guidelines when you’re at your destination.
With a little knowledge and imagination, you can take stunning and unique travel photos with your iPhone. So let’s take a look at ten ways to maximize your chances of taking amazing travel photos with your iPhone!
Research Your Destination
Good travel photography starts way before you arrive at your destination. It starts off at home, where you should research the location that you’re visiting. Spend a bit of time finding out about local landmarks, interesting architecture and areas of natural beauty that would make good subjects and locations for your photos. Check what the weather will be like during your visit, and find out what time the sun rises and sets. The golden hours are usually the best times of day for taking photos, especially in hot climates where it can become hazy during the main part of the day.
2. Use the Instagram Community
Purchasing a good travel guide book is important for many people, but it’s also interesting (and free) to check out what the Instagram community has to say about your chosen destination. Open Instagram and search for your destination, the platform is all about the best pictures and not albums.
3. Prepare Your Camera
Before you set out on your journey, set aside some time to prepare your iPhone for the trip. One of the most important things is to make sure you have enough space on your iPhone for lots of new photos. You don’t want to run out of space half way through your adventure! So free up as much space as possible by transferring your existing pictures to your computer. Battery life is also important as you might be out shooting all day with your iPhone. I would advise purchasing an external battery, there are plenty on Amazon – I have had good luck with NewTrent products. If you’re traveling to a location where you don’t need to use cellular coverage, optimize the battery usage by switching on Airplane Mode. This way your iPhone won’t drain the battery trying to keep you connected all the time.
4. Rethink The Cliché Shots
Visiting tourist spots when traveling is inevitable, but you don’t want to return home with your images looking just like the guide book. It’ll be much more fun and interesting if you take unique shots of popular travel destinations. The important thing to remember when photographing popular tourist locations is to avoid shooting the subject just like everyone else has done before you.Shooting from a low angle is an easy way to show a scene from a perspective that people don’t normally see from standing height.
5. Shoot Portraits Of Local People
A great way to capture the essence of your destination is to take portrait photos of local people. If you’re shooting from a distance this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you want to take close-up portraits it’s polite to ask permission first. For a softer approach, I suggest a quick study of the language first. Buy a phrasebook or download a translation app on your iPhone, and learn the basics such as, “hello,” “please,” “thank you” and “how are you?”
6. Use Yourself Or A Traveling Companion As The Subject
Having a person in your travel photos makes the images more interesting. It also adds a more humane perspective to the journey that you’re documenting. A person can act as a focal point in a scene that doesn’t have an obvious main subject, and it helps the viewer to connect with the photo. It’s not always possible to photograph local people, so if you’re traveling with others, ask them to pose in the scene when you take a photo. Not only does this add an interesting focal point to your image, but it creates wonderful memories of the people you traveled with or met along your journey. When you come across a scene that looks stunning in real life, you might find it difficult to convey that beauty in a photo. This is especially true with landscapes and beach scenes which can appear very “flat” without a main subject or focal point. Including a person in the scene is the perfect solution but not always facing the camera, the person is part of the photo not the focus.
7. Capture Small Details
When taking photos on your travels, you’re likely to shoot a lot of wide landscapes, tranquil beaches, and busy street scenes. These all make great photos that capture the beauty and atmosphere of the country. But don’t forgot to look out for the smaller details at your destination. This shouldn’t be difficult as everything you see will probably be brand new to you, and you’ll spot interesting details everywhere you look. Keep your eyes peeled for traditional elements unique to your destination, such as details in architecture, local costumes, materials, food, colors, textures and patterns.
If you’re at a beach or in the countryside, look out for small elements in nature, such as flowers, leaves, pebbles or shells. Get up close to capture the fine detail of these small subjects.
8. Tell A Story With Your Photos
A good photo tells a story, and travel photography is the perfect opportunity to tell interesting stories with your pictures. There are different ways that you can tell stories through your photos. You often need to do this quickly before the moment is gone, so always have your camera ready and use burst mode to take a series of shots in quick succession (simply hold the shutter button down to activate burst mode). Storytelling is all about getting the viewer interested in what’s going on in the scene. A great way to do this is to create some mystery and intrigue so that your audience starts asking questions about the photo.
9. Document Your Entire Journey
Rather than just taking photos once your reach your destination, document your entire journey with your iPhone. This will help you to tell a more complete story of your trip. Airports are great places for photography. Look around at the architecture and try creating symmetrical or abstract compositions. Or capture the hustle and bustle of the airport – it’s essentially like street photography but inside a large building! There will be lots of stories going on at an airport. There will be family members saying goodbye, old friends meeting after many years, business people running to catch their plane, families waiting around during long delays, etc. Photographing planes is another obvious choice at the airport. And once you’re up in the air, you can take pictures inside the plane and out of the windows. Ensure your phone is set to Airplane Mode while flying.
10. Fill Your Camera Roll
Take as many photos as you possibly can! There’s no such thing as too many pictures of your trip. Not all of your photos will be amazing ones that you want to share, but they’ll still be good memories for you to recollect. Traveling can sometimes be the one chance you get to see and experience a specific place. So make sure you experiment with different shooting angles and composition to maximize your chances of getting the perfect shot. You may never go back to that place so this might be your only opportunity. There are many times when traveling that you’ll stumble across an interesting scene or a fleeting moment, so always be ready with your iPhone. If you’re not sure whether to take the shot, take it. Using burst mode is a good option when shooting busy scenes and moving subjects. You’ll end up with a lot of photos in your Camera Roll, but you can select the best ones and delete the rest.
Don’t worry about being seen as a “tourist” who’s taking lots of photos. It’s preferable to return home with an iPhone full of images than to regret not taking many pictures of your trip.