DIY Travel Photographer: Camera phone

Location: Anywhere in the whole wide world!

The destination has been chosen and the flights are booked, but you’re not sure you’ll do the trip any justice with your photography skills. Are you afraid of coming back with thousands of boring and unappealing photographs to upload on to your social media, or show your family when they come around for dinner? Don’t worry because help is at hand! I still struggle with capturing aspects of my travels, and am guilty of choosing between experiencing things or photographing things, but it’s true when they say that ‘if you take a picture it’ll last longer’ – and they make great holiday souvenirs.

In this three part series on Travel Photography, I’ll cover the basics of the three main types of photographs you’ll most likely be taking on a holiday; landscape photography, street shooting and camera phones. Yes, camera phones. With just a little imagination and technique, you can get beautiful travel photographs straight from the palm of your hand.

New York Sunset on a camera phone

Using your camera phone

Just about everyone has a camera on their phone, and just about everyone always has their camera phone with them everywhere they go; and in addition to this the technology is improving constantly so if you don’t want to invest in an expensive camera you can start using your camera phone right away.

1 Lighting: Good lighting applies across the board in photography. Early morning and sunset lighting (also called ‘golden hour’) will give you beautiful soft lighting, which makes everything look good. If the sun or light source is behind your subject, then the front of them will be shadowed and can also create an interesting silhouette. If the day is cloudy or overcast, this will give you the most even lighting to work with, and eliminate dark shadows in your image.

Jelena looking out the plane window taken on a camera phone

2. Composition: Here you can consider a range of things in your image including the use of leading lines, symmetry, depth and alternating the angle that you take the photo from. I normally take a few photo’s of the same subject using a few of these for variety, as one will look better than the other. The same golden rules in photography apply to using a camera phone here!

Melbourne's graffiti laneways captured by camera phone

3. Simplify: Photograph a single subject in your image for a different look and feel to the photo.

4. Edit your images with an app: It’s as easy as a simple adjustment of the contrast or color saturation, or make it interesting and use some filters over the top of it. There are a million things you can do with your image all from the ease of your own smart phone.

Night photo of Minneapolis captured on camera phone

Pro’s of using a camera phone

The pro’s of using a camera phone is that it will fit neatly into your pocket or handbag, and you’ll always have it with you, making it portable and compact; and it’s also incredibly discreet. A large DSLR always attracts attention, and it can also be intimidating to your subject to have a huge camera and lens shoved in their face; as well as draw some unwanted attention to you (make sure you have travel insurance). A camera phone is easy to use (no need to mess about with settings), and it’s easy to get people to agree to a photograph  if you let them know you’ll upload them to your social media and tag them – which is a big win for travel photography. Social media sharing of photographs is HUGE! You can have your image uploaded to your social media account and hash tagged faster than you can with a DSLR (unless your camera is wifi enabled) or an analogue camera.

Con’s of using a camera phone

The major con’s of using a camera phone is that the quality is a lot lower than a DSLR, especially in low light situations, and the flash is usually blinding and not flattering at all. However, having said that, there are many photographers using camera phones in professional photography situations like photojournalism because the pro’s far outweigh the con’s.

Yellowstone National Park captured on camera phone

Disclaimer: This is a recycled article (I know, I’m a horrible person!) that I originally wrote and appeared back in October 2014. I used to write a photography blog and although I’ve moved on from writing about photography, I still reference and use the advice I gave on the old blog, even today. Since Siu On and I will be without internet for the next who-knows-how-long, and it seems like everyone is rushing off on their mid yearly travels, I dug up my DIY travel photography articles to help you capture your travels as best as you can.

I can’t just leave you guys hanging now, can I… xoxo Jelena

All images were taken using my Android phone (no kidding!).