Taking travel photos keeps getting easier, and that's a great thing, but don't you wish your pictures could be better? Back in the day if you wanted high-quality pictures you needed bulky and expensive equipment. Now, your iPhone camera can deliver bright, sharp and detailed images worthy of a pro. But just because your phone's camera can take great pictures doesn't mean your shot of the Taj Mahal or Grand Canyon will stand out. So if you want your vacation snaps to have that wow factor, here are ten tips from from Janpim Wolf, a photographer with a gypsy soul based in Richmond, Virginia in the USA. She's been kind enough to share her best tips and tricks for taking amazing travel photos using only an iPhone or smart phone.

Let there be light!

traveltip1 Light is the most important thing about photography. The “Golden Hour”  provides gentle, soft diffused light. This happens approximately one hour after sunrise and during the last hour of the day before sunset. Lookup sunrise/sunset times to take advantage of this magical light. If you are taking portraits or Selfies, skin always looks amazing with a warm glow.

Take cover, find shade

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset If you miss out on the Golden Hour, look for open shade. It will help you avoid blown out highlights and the harsh midday shadows. The goal is to properly expose the whole properly picture so you don’t lose any details. Mixed lighting is very hard to edit.

Be an early bird

Processed with VSCO with s2 preset Sometimes the shot you want to get can be cluttered with tourists. If you arrive early you can avoid the crowds and enjoy the space. This will give you time to explore and try out some different angles without worrying about someone photo bombing your picture.

Play with perspective

traveltip4 Instead of photographing your subject matter straight on at eye level, change it up by shooting from above or below for a more unique view. Playing with perspective is especially important when photographing a popular tourist attraction. A photo with a different angle or viewpoint will make your images stand out from all the others.

Dare to be different

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset There is a quintessential photo for every famous landmark. You can create a unique photo by changing the angle, focal point, and the composition. Move around; get closer and then back away, change your direction. Experiment by taking a vertical and horizontal shot of your scene. Is there something you can include in your frame to make it more interesting?

Arranging, organizing and putting it all together

Processed with VSCO with f1 preset Every time you take a picture you are making decisions about composition. The way you arrange the elements of your picture will direct the viewer’s attention. There are many ideas on how to accomplish this that you can research for guidance. One of the most well known approaches is the “The Rule of Thirds. Place your subject one third of the way into the frame rather than in the middle. Turn on your grid in your camera app settings. The best place to put your subject is in one of the four places where the grid lines intersect.

Capturing the essence of nature

traveltip7 Most landscape images look better if the horizon is positioned above or below the middle of the frame. Look for lines that will guide the viewer’s eyes through the image. Converging lines provide depth and pull you in. Diagonal lines work to lead through the image and to the main subject. Curved lines will direct the viewer’s eyes around the frame towards the point of interest. Turn on HDR (High Dynamic Range) to get a perfectly exposed photo. This will help you capture all the details, especially in the sky, it will help capture the shifts in tone that make up clouds. Consider including a person in your landscape, it provides an understanding of scale and gives a sense of perspective. Ask your travel partner, a local or other tourists to help out.

Love the little things

traveltip8 Make your travel story more personal by documenting the little things that you enjoy during your adventure. Photograph the decadent dessert you enjoyed at lunch, a handful of seashells or the intricate patterns carved in the architecture. By capturing these details you are helping create a full story of your travels that your friends and family will love following.

Communicate motion

traveltip9 Capture a sense of movement can provide a dynamic, exciting image. You can photograph people moving such as walking, running, jumping etc. When you are traveling, you might come across moving vehicles that can provide some very unique shots such as a tuk-tuk. Try snapping an action shot with “burst mode.” It will help you freeze the frame and then you can select which image you want to share from the sequence. Try the App “Slow Shutter Cam” to create long exposure shots that mimics what your photos would look like if you used a slow shutter speed on a DSLR camera.

Back it up

traveltip10bTreasure your pictures! Join Dropbox or sign up for a cloud storage plan through Amazon or Apple. In case your phone gets damaged in the ocean, falls from your hands when you reach the summit, or you fall prey to a pickpocket, you will have peace of mind knowing that your images up till that moment are safe and sound.



Bio: Janpim Wolf is an Art Educator, Field Instructor and a photographer.  At a young age, she fell head over heels in love with international travel. She has now succeeded in blending her love for teaching and travel. Since 2014 she led groups of teenagers to South East Asia for cultural exploration and community service focused trips with experiential education companies. She loves seeing the transformation of her students as they become travelers, leaving the tourist mentality behind. The first thing she packs in her backpack is her camera. She documents her adventures using her photography gear and her iPhone to explore new spaces and connect with locals. Website/ Instagram 

Mara Pho

05/07/2018 22:47:18

Those are very useful tips. Thank you

Karin Mira

10/04/2018 09:07:10

I love photos and travelling around so I am always interested in new informations.

Thanks for your comment!

We will review your message as soon as possible.


Your email address will not be published.

Required fields are marked *