Pssst. We have a travel photography contest coming up that has a juicy reward for travellers good at taking photos on holiday. Watch this space! To that tune, we have pro photographer Matthew Teo sharing his expert tips on taking great holiday photos on your mobile phone.
Why would anyone prefer a mobile phone for photography over a DSLR you say? First reason would be the weight and ease of use. It is a lot quicker to whip out your phone from your pockets and snap away at a beautiful moment instead of grabbing your DSLR, powering it up and focusing.
Another reason would be the ease and speed of sharing your images with people. Snap, upload and within a minute the whole world could be audience to your beautiful travel images. The ease of post processing with image editing applications is a huge plus too, no steep learning curve needed! As easy as it sounds, mobile photography can be daunting even for professional photographers. Here are some 10 quick tips to get you started.
TAKING GREAT TRAVEL PHOTOS WITH A MOBILE PHONE
1) Clean your lens!
This is the easiest rule to adhere to yet always the first to be forgotten. I am guilty of this myself, so do bring along tissue paper to give your lens a quick swipe. Our mobile phones are always on the move attracting grime, sweat, stains and thumb prints.
Always always always remember to clean your lens before taking pictures and this simple step will improve clarity of images by at least twenty percent.
2) Use digital zoom if you must
Every article written about mobile photography cautions against using the digital zoom available in your mobile phone. Do remember that the default lens in your mobile phone is wide angle and hence distorts lines and makes them slant. If you can settle for lower resolution images that are meant to be utilized only for social media, the digital zoom is a good solution, especially for architecture shots when you want to get the straight lines.
3) Use a selfie stick and timer
It is always an issue with tourists who want to get a selfie of themselves with their favorite attraction and share those images with friends and family. Being a stranger in a foreign land, it’s not always wise to trust someone else to shoot for you. Especially if you are travelling alone.
Do get a selfie stick and use the timer function to enable full control over the composition of the image. Yeahhh using a selfie stick can be a little embarrassing, but if you want to capture the memories of the moment forever, put your shyness aside and selfie away!
4) Go crazy on perspectives
Find your image too boring? Think out of the box and get down and dirty on your knees!
Simple tricks would be to go down low from a cat’s perspective or to get up on a stool and shoot your subject.
5) Make use of available light
Light, light and more light! It easily makes and breaks an image regardless of background and composition. A personal cheat code would be to shoot from 4pm to 630pm, as the sun is setting. Make use of the sun to create flares and beautiful shadows on your subjects.
Many mobile phones do not function well at high ISO levels at night, so your best bet would be to make use of daylight for your perfect shot!
6) Black and white
Post-processing your travel images to black and white tend to give your images a romantic and sentimental feel. It can be a quick-fix for photos that need too much correcting. Monochrome photos can give your travel images a certain pop.
7) Less is more
Learn to remove distracting elements and background from your image. Simplicity is a good starting ground for photography. A top tip would be to reduce the image to shapes and forms.
Contrasting beautiful light and shadows is another easy way to bring your travel images to life. It is a simple way to bring life to images.
9) Art-direct your subjects
Don’t be shy in approaching people for portrait photos. Get inspired by plenty of images, Have a clear direction in mind and then direct your subjects.
10) Have Fun!
Most importantly, enjoy your holiday and your photography. Shoot plenty of images so you have a huge selection to pick the best from. You don’t want to come back and regret that your best landscape photo is actually blur.
BONUS TIPS FROM OTHER PRO PHOTOGRAPHERS:
“Shoot in HDR mode, in that case you’ll get two photos in which you’ll get to choose later in your camera roll. HDR mode blends 3 shots together with different exposures into one. This is especially useful when in some cases, the sky is over exposed or blown out, then HDR would do the job!”
– Jerald Saw (@jeraldsaw)
“Play around with lines or even symmetry; they are extremely pleasing to the eye, and you wouldn’t need an expensive camera to achieve great results!”
– Shawne Koh (@shawnekoh)
“With faces and made objects, sometimes, it’s best to pinch-zoom in just a wee bit rather than holding the camera/phone close to your subject which could lead to unflattering results.”
– Don Wong (@dwkm)
“Make pictures not based on what it looks like, but rather what it feels like.”
– Alvin Ng (@alvinnzh)
“Make use of the manual exposure function in the iPhone camera. Press and hold on the area you’d like to focus and it will lock the focus and exposure. Swipe up and down to adjust to what you think fits best. This is good for situations where lighting is harsh and the iPhone camera automatically exposes the photo too dark or too bright.
– Jerald Saw (@jeraldsaw)
“Experiment with videos. A simple 30 second rolling video of a journey ride on the back of a camel or in a canoe works better than a single frame picture. Single still pictures evoke moods better, but video brings out the spectacle.”
– Don Wong (@dwkm)
“When using a handphone to snap photos during a trip, do study what lies before you and notice the details, rather than capture an entire scene like a record shot. Try to pay attention to patterns, colours as well as good light which can be used effectively to create mood.”
– Ooi Boon Keong (@kivjawz)
About the Writer
Trained as an artist and formerly a commercial photographer, Matthew Teo has shot campaigns for clients like DBS, Ashley Isham, Lenovo, Casio and British Airways.
Matthew is now a co-founder of Klaud9, a stock image agency that specializes in Asian images.