5 Quick Tips for Great Mobile Travel Photography

All photos ©Josh Haftel

The first thing I do in a new country is get a prepaid SIM card for my phone. Sure, this means that I’m still connected, but the ability to address Google Maps, TripAdvisor, or Foursquare at any point far outweighs the negatives of being sucked back into the infinite void that is Facebook. Pre-paid SIM cards are available everywhere, and let you use your phone to research photo opportunities and share your next masterpiece in every corner of the globe.

On my last major trip I initially thought of using my phone as a map source to scout for new places to take pictures with my “serious” DSLR rig. However, while my “real” camera remained irreplaceable, I quickly found myself taking more and more photos with my phone. Pointing a DSLR with a huge lens at someone often results in a goofy smile or an angry glare, but doing the same with a phone is far less intrusive.

I found myself shooting very differently with my phone than I did with my DSLR. At the time, square was the only format available on Instagram, which I was using as my primary outlet. This forced me to shoot and compose images with square in mind (which was easy as I had shot a number of series in square format in the past).

Using my phone gave me a newfound freedom and excitement for capturing images, a lightness that I didn’t find when shooting with my DSLR. These images didn’t need to be gallery-worthy, my entire sense of self-worth as an artist wasn’t caught up in them, and they could be less serious and self-aware. I loved and embraced this freedom and found myself shooting more and more. Couple this freedom with a powerful computer and software and you’ve got yourself a serious photography experience. Below, I’ve listed a few handy tips for better mobile travel photography that I learned during my wanderings.


1. Get Close
Small sensors, like the ones found in mobile phones, result in greater depth of field than traditional DSLR and mirrorless cameras. This makes getting separation between subject and background really difficult. However, greater depth of field means you can get much more of the scene in focus when shooting macro than you could with a camera with a larger sensor, so take advantage of that!

You also get a lot more flexibility and forgiveness thanks to the camera being so small and light, and with some of the most recent phones you even get built-in image stabilization making things even better. The innocuous nature of a phone lets you get close and capture images that you might not be able to with a larger camera.

2. Create a Mini-Series
Cities and countries very often have repeating themes, and giving yourself an assignment to find and capture one of those themes can be a fun treasure hunt to pursue while capturing images. This helps you frame the story of your trip while also giving your viewer a sense of the place.

3. Don’t Be Afraid of Weather
It’s far easier to hide a phone than a camera when weather strikes, so be adventurous! Weather makes for interesting photos and cloud cover means that you can avoid the dreaded mid-day sun, giving you far more shooting opportunities.

4. The Human Element
People often make for more interesting photos. They not only provide a sense of scale, but they help add context to your images. Adding people in your shots helps you convey the culture and environment and also increases engagement with your viewer. The best part of shooting with mobile devices is they’re so ubiquitous that people often don’t even notice you’re taking a picture of them, resulting in much more natural shots.

5. Leading Lines
OK, this last one may not be a mobile-only tip, but I’ve found it’s always helpful to have a set of go-to compositional templates that can help when your muse is off sleeping (or whatever they do when they’re not helping you be creative). Leading lines are fun because they help draw the user into your image, focusing their attention on the key portion of your scene.

Josh Haftel is Senior Product Manager for Mobile Photography at Adobe.


your post has helped me and I would love to read more topics like this
I will try some of these Tips! Thank you so much Josh for the great Ideas on taking better photos ..

I found here some tips that can help any photographer using any camera for taking better photos :

Thanks again ^_^