How to use your smartphone to take the perfect holiday photos

Follow these pro tips from a photographer and you'll never take a bad travel snap again!

Take advantage of your phone's camera for amazing shots
  • Rachel Gray
  • January 2019

You don’t need to be a professional photographer with the most expensive gear to be able to capture amazing photographs when you’re on holidays. Photographer Kara Rosenlund reveals the secrets to taking happy snaps like a pro…

Simplify your shot

The best photos are usually simple images. So keep the composition basic and always look out for distractions in the picture. For example, if you take a shot of some palm trees and there’s a rubbish bin under them then that will ruin the photograph. Be aware of everything in the frame when you are taking a photo and avoid messy visual distractions.

Clean your lens

You see it so often when people don’t clean their phone lenses as the image comes out hazy and soft. Always make sure the lens is clean with no smudges.

A clean lens will make your photos pop
A clean lens will make your photos pop.

Turn off the flash

Most of the time – except at night – you don’t need the flash and it can overexpose a lot of the highlights and ruin your photos.

Experiment with perspective

You don’t have to walk up to something and just shoot it from where you are standing. You can bend down, you can stand on something and you can move your body to find a new angle. Always take a moment to think about different perspectives when it comes to your composition.

Consider snapping shots from another angle
Consider snapping shots from another angle.

Turn your back on the sun

Most people flock to where the sun is setting because of that iconic sunset allure. But I find the real sunset shots are when you turn your body and look in the opposite direction. That is when all the delicate, dusty pink colours come through.

Use Apps

Have some fun with a few different apps to enhance colour, saturation and contrast. I use Snapseed (available on iOS and Android) for my photos.

Good morning, sunshine!

The best sunlight is in the morning. If you want that gorgeous golden feel, you have to be an early bird and go and grab that light before it gets too harsh. That is how you capture that beautiful twinkly light, without the subject matter being overexposed.

Scenes look best at dawn's light
Scenes look best at dawn's light.

Use portrait mode

Play around and have some fun if your phone has portrait mode, which uses limited depth-of-field. That just means your background is all blurred and the focus is on your subject matter – the person or object in front of you. This is a professional technique and is great for when you are capturing snaps of friends and family when on holidays.