As much as I love my professional camera equipment, when it’s comes to vacations I choose to leave it all at home. With the ease, convenience, and quality of camera phones I’ve made the choice to forgo the bulky gear and travel light whenever possible. Last year when we went to Guadalajara I tested out travel photography with my iPhone only, and I have never looked back! So when we booked our two week Japan trip I knew my iPhone had everything I needed and more to document the trip for not only our memories, but as a way to fulfill my creativity.
When it comes to documenting your travels, whether it’s your honeymoon, family vacation or a business trip there are a few important tips and suggestions to keep in mind.
- See the light. In all honesty this can take years to really learn, but whenever shooting (for personal or clients) I’m looking for 3 types of lighting: backlight, open shade, and window light. These make up my shooting style and are extremely flattering forms of light. When in doubt look for even lighting without harsh shadows. It never hurts to snap a few photos to test the light before committing to a certain spot or angle.
- Photograph the details. From texture to peeling paint on the walls, to the trees above, and everything in between. I’m a big believer that the little details help tell the complete story of your trip.
- Clean your lens. This may seem obvious, but when your constantly taking your phone in and out of your pockets, bags, etc. things are bound to get dirty. If you notice a haze or fuzzy look to your photos quickly wipe off your lens with the clean sleeve of your shirt and you’ll be good to go!
- Avoid zooming in camera. Although this is a nice feature in theory, it drastically affects the quality of your photos. Move closer to your subject if need rather than relying on the zoom.
- Edit as you go. Throughout the day I am shooting regularly but I like to wait till the end of the day, or during a long train/subway/plane ride to select my favorites and edit. I look through all my photos from the day and favorite them by clicking “heart icon” below the photo on your iPhone. This copies all selected photos to your favorites folder and from there I upload them to VSCO. This is my preferred editing app, but there are lots of other great options to play with. Once in VSCO I edit all my photos from the day and export them into my camera stream. From there I select the final edits and copy them into a new folder for the trip i.e. “Japan.”
- Less is more. When it comes to how I actually edit my photos I like to keep the crazy filters and drastic edits to a minimum. I choose my favorite filter (A6 in VSCO) and always lower the amount to about 25-50% strength. This keeps your photos from looking overly processed. Then I usually increase the exposure and contract a little, and that’s it! I apply this same process to all the photos so everything looks consistent and cohesive.
- Rinse and repeat. I follow the above steps every day until the end of my trip. By doing so, my pictures are ready to print and share the moment I return home.
- Print your photos! It’s easy to get sucked back into life and catching up when you return from travels, so I highly recommend you print, order books, and share your photos ASAP. Mpix is a great resource I always recommend to my clients for prints, books, and lots of other photo goodies. Personally, I love to print a book from each International trip we take. It has become a highlight for me and the perfect keepsake, especially since I’m not into purchasing a lot of souvenirs.
I hope these tips are helpful for documenting you next trip! I would love to hear from you in the comments below. What’s the hardest obstacle when it comes to photographing your vacations?