Who said you needed to invest in expensive camera gear to get started with travel photography? If your goal is to take better iPhone pictures, this post’s definitely for you! Whether you own an iPhone or any other brand, I think we can all agree that smartphones in general are getting better and better when it comes to image quality.
That’s actually the number one reason why you shouldn’t panic about buying a camera right off the bat if you don’t have the budget for it or would simply like to dip your toes in the waters of travel photography and blogging first.
So stop dreaming about that professional camera for now and invest in what really matters: your skills!
In this post, I’m sharing the tips and tools that have helped me take better travel photos using an iPhone (or any smartphone really), including during solo trips!
Ready to up your iPhone photography game? Let’s go! 🙂
Tip #1: Get a phone tripod
Yes, phone tripods are a thing! Using a phone tripod will make you 100% independent and – if you ask me – that’s actually priceless. No need to ask a random person or to convince your travel partner to wake up at sunrise anymore 😉 From now on, you just do your thing!
On top of that, once you learn how to use it properly, you will be able to frame your shot exactly the way you want it!
What to take into consideration when buying a phone tripod?
- Weight: you need to be able to carry it around easily.
- Minimum and maximum height: it needs to be versatile enough to allow you to frame your pictures in a variety of ways.
- Price: the good news is that it’s possible to get a decent tripod for a pretty low price.
I own 2 phone tripod, here’s my experience so far:
Rollei Smartphone Tripod Traveler
- Affordable (around 30 euros)
- Lightweight (600 gr)
- Fairly easy to carry around
- Comes with a Bluetooth remote control (wireless connection up to around 10 meters)
- Limited maximum height (120 cm), which can be pretty annoying and restricting when it comes to shooting self-portraits or close-ups
- I sometimes have a hard time adjusting the head of the tripod
Would I recommend it? Yes. This phone tripod is affordable, it does the job, and it allowed me to take my first solo shots which I was super excited about back then! Here are a few examples:
Haitent Retractable Cell Phone Tall Tripod
- It has the perfect maximum height (up to 210 cm)
- It is pretty narrow which means you can just put it in a corner (as opposed to the Rollei one which is quite wide)
- It is affordable
- It comes with 2 phone holders in case you lose or break one
It is kind of big even when folded which makes it harder to carry around. You couldn’t place it in your carry-on suitcase, for example.
Would I recommend it? Despite the fact that it’s not as compact as the Rollei tripod, this one is still my favorite as it is much more versatile and allows me to style my pictures just the way I want it!
On top of these 2 options, there are many other travel/mini tripods available on the market. And while I find them super practical and easy to carry around, they’re pretty limiting in terms of creativity and framing options, so definitely keep that in mind. At the end of the day, it’s just a matter of priorities and personal taste!
Good to know: if you decide to invest in a regular camera tripod later on, you’ll be able to buy a separate phone holder/adapter in most cases.
Tip #2: Invest in your editing skills
The picture in the middle was taken with my iPhone 11 and the two others ones with my old iPhone 6s. What a difference editing can make, right?
Lightroom is literally the queen of editing softwares and apps for a good reason! Investing a bit of time and energy into learning Lightroom basics will definitely be a game-changer if you’re new to travel photography, including using just your smartphone!
When I started getting more serious about my travel content, I was convinced that I absolutely needed a professional camera. Then I realized that editing is KEY.
I’m not saying that iPhone photos are comparable in any way. However, I do think that it’s good to learn to make things work with what you have right now and it’s just crazy what you can do with only a smartphone and a bit of creativity!
Lightroom Mobile: where to start?
- Transform your travel photos: editing on Lightroom mobile
- iPhone Photo Editing – How to Edit Photos Like a Pro Using Lightroom Mobile CC
- Lightroom Mobile | How to Edit Your iPhone Photography Like a Professional
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Ok, so Lightroom may seem intimidating at first and you might as well ask yourself “Why bother when I can just apply a VSCO filter”? That’s right, but using Lightroom will allow you to have more control over the end result, which is so important!
Tip #3: Take a lot of pictures (and use a remote control)
When I say “take a lot of pictures”, I mean a LOT. But hey, now that you have a tripod, you can take as many photos as you like!
In my case, 1 or 2 good pictures = anywhere between 10 and 50 “meh pictures”. If your tripod is delivered with a remote control (like the Rollei one), the only thing you’ll need to do is keep the remote control button pressed for a couple of seconds to shoot in burst mode.
This way, I can guarantee you’ll find (at least) one you like! One more tip: do not hesitate to switch poses and while shooting in burst mode.
If you don’t have a remote control or just fear that it might look too obvious in pictures, don’t worry! There’s a ton of apps out there that will do the job. I’m currently using that one app called ‘Lightning Lens’ and haven’t felt the need to try any other one.
Lightning Lens allows you to:
- Set a timer (the available options = 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds)
- Activate or deactivate the flash mode
- Activate the burst mode (which allows you to shoot 5,7,10 or 15 pictures in one take)
- Adjust the interval between each picture so you have enough time to switch pose between each shot
Avoid this mistake: when I first started taking pictures alone, I would use the front camera to have a better idea of where I should stand or sit. However, this has a pretty big impact on image quality. Take a few test shots first instead!
Tip #4: Use Halide to mimic professional cameras’ manual mode
Why even bother with manual settings?
The main reason is that, again, it’ll give you more control over the end result as well as better chances of taking good pictures (including in less than ideal light conditions).
This is also a good opportunity to get familiar with the manual mode before you even invest in an actual DSLR camera!
Here’s the 3 settings you’ll be able to adjust in Halide:
- ISO: a higher ISO will capture more light but also add some grain to your picture.
- White balance: the white balance influences the way colors are captured as well as their temperature (cold vs warm).
- Focus: Halide allows you to manually adjust the focus level which will help you achieve that blurry background effect.
My brain basically exploded the first time I read about manual settings. The best way to figure this out is just a bit of theory directly followed by a LOT of practice. However, being an app, Halide is far less sophisticated than a DSLR camera. In other words, you will quickly get the grip of it!
Don’t miss this tip: alternatively, if you own an iPhone 11, take a picture using the portrait mode, then go to “Edit” and adjust the aperture (F+number icon in the top left corner) to your liking: a higher number – let’s say F 8.0 – will sharpen the background while a smaller number – for example F.4.0 – or below will allow you to create a blurry background using just your iPhone!
Tip #5: Learn how to pose for travel photos (so you always end up with a picture you like)
A pose can truly make or break a picture. I can’t keep count of the number of potentially good pictures that I took and that were “ruined” by some awkward pose.
Travel bloggers make it seem so easy, but posing in a natural way is actually way harder than it looks! With time and a bit of practice, you will definitely find your best angles and poses!
If you have no idea where to start, I created a Pinterest board full of pose ideas.
On top of it, here’s a list of keywords you can look for on Pinterest to find more poses inspiration and ideas for your next travel pictures:
- Travel poses Instagram
- Travel poses ideas
- Travel poses ideas solo
- Travel pose photography
In doubt, always take a few shots looking away or with your back turned to the camera, this will allow you to leave with at least one good pic.
Ok, so this was my last tip for better iPhone travel pictures! I hope you found them useful and that they will help you up your travel photography game. More importantly, remember that practice makes perfect!
See you around here or on Instagram @rosesandpostcards
Alison! I really love your blog and the way you created photos, your blog theme’s also great! Could you tell me where I can visit to buy this theme?
Thank you so much 😀 I’ve just sent you an email with the details, but in case you see this comment first, I use a theme called Mia, you can find it here (this is my affiliate link): https://17thavenuedesigns.com/ref/555/
It’s customizable and pretty easy to use. I had no experience when I first installed it, but there are many helpful tutorials on the website.
Have a great day!