Everything You Need To Know To Take Fab Travel Photos With Only Your Phone

taking travel photos with a phone

Unsplash/Annie Spratt

You don’t need a big, fancy camera to take fantastic photos of your travels. You can absolutely capture your favorite trip moments on your phone if you know a couple tricks of the trade.

Always focus on your subject.

taking travel photos with a phone

Unsplash/Maria Shanina

Smartphone cameras are pretty smart, but they do get confused sometimes. So it’s best to help your phone out and tap the place in the frame that you want to be in focus (AKA, the sharpest, clearest part of the photo), just to ensure the best outcome.

Think about light.

taking travel photos with a phone

Unsplash/Mink Mingle

You can’t always control what time of day you see amazing sights while traveling. But you can try to think about how you use it. For instance, don’t take photos of people with super bright lights shining directly into the camera. You’ll end up with shadowy faces and no background to speak of. Instead, try to take photos of people (and landmarks, whenever possible) when the light is shining onto it and illuminating the scene.

Watch your backgrounds.

taking travel photos with a phone

Unsplash/Ozgu Ozden

When taking photos of large vistas or a bustling square or even a portrait, make sure you’re aware of everything that’s going to show up in your photo. Point, shoot and, since we live in a lovely digital age, check your photo to see what’s going on in the background. If there’s some construction tape or an obnoxious billboard in there, reframe your shot and take another one, minus the unattractive distraction.

Try to shoot the entire picture.

You don't need a big, fancy camera.

Unsplash/Sebastien Gabriel

Taking a photo of a cityscape or a mountain? Whatever it is, make sure the entire thing is in the frame. If there’s a steeple on a church or an antenna on a skyscraper, include the top of the structure in your photo. Or include the bottom of the structure in your photo. Or highlight just the middle section of the structure, if that’s more visually interesting. But whatever part of the building you choose, make it intentional.

Alternately, find a different vantage point where you can capture the entire scene in one photo for the best possible outcome. Just try not to drive your travel companions crazy while searching for the best spot.

Turn off “Live” photos.

taking travel photos with a phone


Live photos are super fun for capturing a few seconds of a moment, but they’re not as crisp as if you turn it off. Think about it this way: A live photo is essentially a mini video. Even if you freeze one of those frames, it won’t be as high-quality as a regular snap. So if you want to get large prints, keep live off.

taking travel photos with a phone

Unsplash/Nadine Shaabana

Wondering what phone will take the best travel photos? It’s no surprise that newer models have much better cameras. We love the Google Pixel 3’s Night Sight feature for taking photos in the dark (it uses special technology to make dimly lit settings look super bright) and the iPhones’ built-in timelapse feature (it captures the bustle of a busy place better than a single still image or normal speed video).


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