How to Get Better Travel Photographs With a Phone Camera

Phones - the modern essential item. My go to for life.  I am lost without it, worried I may miss something or forget what I am doing.  In reality I survive, I don't really need it.  However, I have it with me at all times and for this reason alone it has been the perfect camera for many events and walks.  When my batteries die on a day shooting I resort back to my phone.  I use it for quick snaps of the kids and for getting images of my camera in use for my blog.  My phone has also produced my only shortlisted image with National Geographic.  Taken in the Lake District I was on a walking training weekend and lugging myself up the mountains was enough without the additional weight of a camera.

Pike of Bliscoe image taken using an iphone and selected by National Geographic Traveller as a shortlisted entry in 2015


In amongst this ramble, what I am trying to say is that you don't need a camera to get good images.  Your phone can do it for you if you know how to make it work for your situation.

All of the pictures in this post have been taken on my phone with no real editing, just to show you that it can be possible to get decent images with a phone!


9 Ways to Get Better Photographs with a Phone Camera


Choose your Subject

Most people use their phones for selfies and snap shots but look around.  Your phone can work in any situation.  Old doors with great texture, a leaf sticking out of an old wall, a piece of seaweed on the beach.  By using your surroundings you can use your phone to get a sense of the environment and convey the moment perfectly.


Rule of  Thirds

As with any camera the rule of thirds is the root of many 'good' images.  Turn the grid on on your phone.  Get objects lined up on the lines or fill one quadrant leaving the remainder of the photo empty.  This simple step can change how you see a landscape and draw the viewer into the landscape.

Rule of thirds in an iphone image can make an image stronger


Just Keep Moving

Don't stand in one spot snapping away.  Move around. Try different angles, different heights and different distances.  Standing still will never change what you see in your camera.


Look Behind

You have a beautiful butterfly in your sights.  Straight away you snap away, pleased with how it looks. Getting home you post it on Facebook and your friends comment.  You have missed the man bent over in the back ground or the sign sticking out the top of the head.  Take time to look at what is beyond your subject, look at the environment and move to get a better, cleaner background if you need to.


The Eye's

If the eye is the focus of your image then the rest will fall in to place.  Always ensure the eye is sharp and in the right place in the frame.  People are drawn to the face and if this is not sharp then the moment has been lost.

A bee taken using an iphone


Burst Out

In larger cameras there is image stabilisation.  A system that prevents blur happening if the camera moves slightly.  Most phones do not (yet) have this option.  Instead you an use burst mode.  Holding your finger down and taking lots of shots all at once will hopefully guarantee one that works.  This is how professionals get decent images.  Lots and lots taken of a moving bird or runner in the hope that one captures the moment.



Look at where the light is coming from.  Have it behind you or to one side.  Using your phone into the sun will confuse it and give you a really bad image.  Take your picture in the morning or evening when the light is softer.  Mid day in the middle of summer gives hash strong light which never looks good.



Why are you taking all of these images?  Memories that need to be seen and shared.  The modern digital era encourages sharing on social media but I still have my albums to flick through and enjoy the moment. I love to produce an annual photobook with my favourite images from the year.  Collecting images online through the year makes it easy in the New Year to hit print and have the memories arrive soon after. Images stored on a phone never to be seen are a wasted moment.  



So many times I hear my friends upset.  All their images are gone.  Never to be seen again.  Stored on their phone which is destroyed or lost.  I have learnt the hard way.  Store your images at the very least in the cloud.  Back up on a regular basis.  Have them all in more than one place.  I have my iPhone images backup automatically to the cloud.  For 79p a month it is hardly worth the thought.  I know they are safe.  I also save everything to Dropbox so I know it is doubly safe.  So easy to set up and the forget about.


Phone - 'yes' or 'no'

I am in the 'yes' camp for photography.  Some of my favourite images were taken on my phone.  I always have it with me, even if it is a quick dog walk with some interesting mushrooms or tree bark to take a shot of.  If you change your mindset then all will be good.  You are never going to achieve the stunning landscape image, but you can come close, capturing one moment in time perfectly.


Want to see more

Have a look at these posts to see more.  All of the images have been taken using my phone as the only camera.


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A phone is sometimes the only camera you have with you. However it is sometimes the best option for capturing the moment. Here are some easy tips to make your images better

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