We all want to take excellent pictures when we travel, but not all of us are excited to carry around heavy camera equipment everywhere we go. If you don't like how much space your camera and your lenses take up inside your backpack, perhaps now is the perfect time to leave it at home and use your smartphone instead.

 

We don't expect phones to replace professional cameras anytime soon,  but smartphones these days are so versatile, they now offer a plethora of features once only available in point-and-shoot cameras and entry-level DSLRs. Here are some tips on how to turn your mobile device into the ultimate travel camera:

 

Learn Your Phone's Basic Functions

 

Before you begin your trip, it is essential to familiarize yourself with your phone's camera features. Learn your camera's various modes and settings that you can use for different situations.

 

If the idea of taking photos using your phone intimidates you, start with the user-friendly Auto mode that allows you to simply point your camera and shoot. Once you feel more comfortable taking photos and want more control, you can use the Manual Mode to let you adjust the shutter speed, aperture, and other settings to achieve proper exposure.

 

Use all the different settings on your phone and experiment with various photographic styles and techniques. Try the Burst Mode to take action shots, Pano mode to shoot captivating vistas, and Timelapse Mode to capture stunning skyscapes. You can enjoy even more creative features like Portrait Mode which allows you to select your subject in the foreground and blur the background for a professional-looking result.

 

Download Photo Apps

 

Having a smartphone means you get to try fun mobile photo applications (mostly for free!). There are hundreds of apps to choose from, but two of the most popular apps among serious phone photographers are Adobe Photoshop Express for simple photo editing, and VSCO for adding color filters to your images.

 

If you want to edit your images quickly, you can download Adobe Photoshop Express app for free. The app is not as robust as the full Photoshop program on your computer, but it is perfect for editing pictures on the go. 

 

On the other hand, if you only wish to enhance the mood of your photos, you can use VSCO to add a filter or adjust your image's exposure. The VSCO app is free, but it also allows you to buy and add new filters to your collection. 

Bring Phone Accessories

 

There's such a huge selection of phone accessories available out there, it can be a daunting task to look for the stuff you can actually use. But there's no need to be overwhelmed, because these four essential items are all that's required to become a pro at phone photography:

 

Selfie stick
Forget about the bad rap of selfie sticks. They are extremely useful for a variety of situations (other than taking selfies). For example, you can use the detachable tripod that comes with your selfie stick to take pictures remotely. You can also use your selfie stick to 
experiment with different perspectives when taking photos. It not only provides you extra reach, but also lets you shoot from really high or very low angles. 

 

Attachable lenses
We admit, most attachable lenses on the market today are poor in quality. A lot of them are made of cheap plastic and can even diminish your camera's picture quality. Having said that, sometimes it's cool to play with these lenses and get surprising results with their quirky qualities such as soft focus, distortions, and light leaks.  

 

Waterproof Case
Traveling can expose your phone to the elements and different weather conditions. Make sure that your device is well-protected by purchasing a high-quality waterproof case. Apart from keeping your phone safe, it also allows you to document your memories in the most unforgiving situations. With a good case, you can take pictures in the rain or even while submerged underwater.

 

Portable Power Bank

Is your phone's battery running low but you're still not finished taking pictures? Just connect your portable power bank to your device and viola! You can keep shooting even while your phone is charging! What's really magical about power banks is that they allow you to recharge your phone anywhere--and they're small enough to fit in your pocket. Needless to say, this accessory is a must-have especially if you are planning a long day of shooting.

 

Take Pictures

 

Same rules of photography apply when you use your phone as a camera. Always be mindful of proper exposure and composition. Before you go out there, look at some of your favorite pictures (Instagram is a good place to start) and study how they were taken. This will give you insight into how you can approach your own photography. When you are ready, take your knowledge to the streets, start taking pictures, and have fun!

 

 

One benefit of smartphones that most people often overlook is that they are extremely portable and less intimidating than professional cameras. That makes it easier for you to take breathtaking landscape images while hiking, or capture portraits of people you meet on the streets. So don't be shy and take those photos, after all, you're only holding a phone in your hand.

 

Connect To Your Social Media

 

What's the point of taking awesome photographs when you can't share them? One thing your smartphone has that regular cameras don't have is its ability to easily connect to social media. When you use your phone for photography, you can upload images seamlessly to social media without the need to transfer photos from your camera to your computer.

 

Right now, social media is the best way to get discovered as a photographer. There are lots of tips and tricks out there that claim to get you the exposure that you need and deserve, but none of that matters if your images are not any good. Remember to keep taking good pictures, upload only your best images and keep an organized visual theme. If you have excellent content, people are inevitably going to follow you. Before you know it, you will be on your way to becoming the next Instagram Star.