Travel Tips & Logistics

6 Smartphone Photo Hacks Every Traveler Should Know

Simple, quick tips that can improve your photography skills to capture every moment just as you envision it.

Lauren Strnad

The day has arrived...

Your vacation is starting. Bursting with anticipation and excitement of everything to come and wanting the perfect photos to capture everything your feeling. Not just to post on social media, but for yourself in years to come to commemorate on this experience and bring back all the emotion you felt in that particular moment. An experience such as the sunsetting behind a pick-up game of soccer in the streets of Colombia, while eating delicious fruit dripping from your hands as you take a bite. Or devouring the fresh ceviche with friends as you recall spending the day working a local-nonprofit. Event like these and much more are things that happen during a T3H experience. They aren’t just that typical beautiful plate of food, they are the interactions you have with the people of whatever destination you visit, soccer games, and more.

These instances equally special and unique during that specific moment and the only way to prolong it is with the push of a button on your smartphone’s camera, yet most of time the photo doesn’t turn out exactly like you are experiencing it. To not let these moments fade, here are some quick doable tips to enhance every moment just as you experience it using your smartphone’s camera.

Tip #1: Take Photos in Bursts

Hold down the shutter button on your smartphone to take a burst of photos. This allows you have options and sometimes capture a different photo then you originally intended in that same instance. If your subject is a human, and not an object, then them have move slightly while the photo is being taken, creating more possibilities.

Tip #2: The Rule of 3’s

Enable the grid function, so you can see it while you are taking a photo. This is important because you can see the different focal points of the photo immediately. Ideally, you want the subjects to be positioned at the intersections of the grids.

Photo: Beach soccer in Brazil.

Or subjects should be divided into the three sections allowing your eye to easy follow the narrative of the photo without getting lost (photo 2).

Photo: Local boys playing soccer in Haiti.

Tip #3 Clean the Lens

As simple as it sounds, this can cause major issues to your photo. If you have a fingerprint on the lens can make the camera focus on something else, or leave an unwanted smudge changing the photo dramatically

Tip #4 Lighting

Everyone talks about lighting, and how it’s good or bad, but no one ever talks about what makes it that way. Here are some quick tricks to make the most out of the light if you aren’t in a studio with all the lighting possibilities. Natural light when possible, the harsh fluorescent light can make the photo look oversaturated or blur out some details (photo 1). When using the sun as lighting make sure it is always behind the camera, illuminating the subject, the person might complain with the sun in their eyes, but they will thank you later for the photo. When possible try to avoid midday sun because of its natural harshness. Also be aware of shadows such as a tall person standing on the side of the sun, thus transcending darkness over the shorter person and hiding them in the photo. For a more artsy look, you try using no flash in dark situations and only having the natural light from whatever is illuminating. This will give focus to only where the light glows giving more of a contrasting vibe. Using the sun to make the people or objects of your photo into silhouettes, while emphasizing the background or the action of the silhouettes (photo 2). Lastly, you can control the how much light is being filtered with the aperture setting. The higher the aperture setting the more light you allow to filter through, in contrast the lower the aperture, the less light. This would be helpful with photo 1 because instead of the blaring light that takes away from the group, you can less it, allowing the viewer to focus on the group better.

Photo: third half group trip to Ireland
Photo: Soccer in silhouette, on a beach in Brazil.
Photo: Light filtering through trees in Costa Rica
Photo: Strong face light for tigers, on safari in South Africa.
Photo: Natural light and good use of depth of field for group of field workers in India.

Tip #5 Stability

Again this is something obvious, but gets ignored quite frequently. To garner the best stability without a tripod stand up straight, and hold the phone with both hands at chest level, meaning elbows slightly bent near stomach range. Stability is important because it brings clarity to the photo without the risk of shaking and blurring the details. Improvising by putting the phone on a flat surface such as bench, bridge, using portable bean bags increase stability and the quality of your significantly without much thought! Be resourceful with what you see around and capture the moment in all the detail you see with your eyes and more.

Photo: Kayaking in Australia.

Tip #6 Syncing Photos

Nothing is worse than having all these incredible memories from adventures and vacations, but then something happens to your phone. Whether it completely dies, you lose it, or worse it gets stolen. That moment is heartbreaking. So, remember to frequently sync your photos to an outside source, so you aren’t solely dependent on your phone’s storage for all these memories.

Hopefully these smartphone photo hacks will come in handy on your next adventure. To learn more about traveling with third half soccer, click here to check out some of our upcoming trips.

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