Travel Tips, Reviews, & Giveaways

5 Tips For Taking Terrific Travel Photos with Your Smartphone

One of Georgette's favorite iPhone travel photos.
One of Georgette’s favorite iPhone travel photos.

Vacations are special, often hard-earned, family experiences, that make memories for a lifetime. So naturally we want to preserve those memories with photos. These days, many of our special moments are captured with our smartphones. With the right tips and tools, those phone photos can be frame worthy. 

Playground has asked Audrey Blake Breheney, a professional photographer and instructor (she even teaches an iPhoneography course!) , to help out. In addition to her extensive portfolio, Audrey takes gorgeous photos of her two adorable little girls.

Here are her 5 tips for taking terrific travel photos with your smartphone:

iphone photosAs a professional lifestyle family photographer I can tell you that when I am traveling with my own family, I hardly ever use anything but my iPhone.

When taking a family vacation the last thing you want to think about is lugging that “big” camera along side the suitcases, beach chairs, and lovies. Not to mention worrying about it getting stolen, wet, dirty or mishandled. It’s awesome to have it but the truth is the most powerful tool you can have on vacation is what most likely sits in your back pocket: Your smartphone.

With your smartphone you can capture, edit and share instantaneously with friends and family and with a few helpful hints and some practice, you can create images worthy of hanging on your wall.


1. Hold The Phone

Treat the phone as you would a camera and hold it horizontally when you are shooting. This allows you to use both hands to hold the camera steady creating images without accidental blur. Children move at lightening speed, so a steady hand is of the utmost importance.

taking better iphone photos


2. Tap To Focus

When you’re trying to capture an image of your wee one frolicking on the beach, make sure to tap the subject so that the camera knows to focus there. The iPhone camera has a natural aperture of 2.2 giving you a beautiful amount of depth of field if you properly focus (that gorgeous blur effect behind the image).

taking better iphone photos


3. Stick With the Forward Facing Camera

Even though it is tempting to click the button and see yourself when taking a “selfie,” there are far better ways to jump in a photo with your family. When we go on vacation we make it a point to stop once a day to take a family photo—AKA, I am in it.

To do this I use the Kootek selfie stick ($20 on Amazon prime). It comes with an attachable tripod which I set the phone on and a remote shutter that is controlled via blue tooth. Since I’m not great at hiding the remote and taking a photo, I sometimes use the iPhone timer that comes on the phone when you click the clock. I set it and run into the frame.  Set up your entire family before hand and then jump in!

taking better iphone photos


4. Watch Out for Distractions

When aiming for that perfect photo, make sure to move your children out of a distracting background. Cars, garbage cans, and clutter are a perfect example of this. If you’re photographing them on the hotel room bed for example, make sure to move the stuff off the night stand for the photo. Or if you are getting ice cream with your family, move them away from the giant public garbage can. Often times store fronts have fun colors and beautiful lines and by simply placing your kid on the counter you have the perfectly composed shot (this also prevents them from running!)

taking better iphone photos


5. Shoot During the Magic Hour

The “Magic Hour” is the hour before the sun sets, and/or the hour after the sun rises. This is the time of day you can get those gorgeous and whimsical shots. Everyone looks flattering in this light and the kids can look right at the sun without squinting or needing shades. The entire hour is wonderful to shoot in and with every minute that passes, the sun is moving, creating different lights and flares. You can shoot with it behind you to get the dewy look on the subject that almost looks as though you have a light shining on them.

taking better iphone photos

P.S. My editing apps of choice are VSCO cam and Snapseed!



Audrey Blake Breheney is a full time photographer specializing in Bedtime Story SessionsLifestyle Family Sessions and Lifestyle Commercial work. Her work has been featured in Saplings Magazine, Mozi Magazine, Design Aglow, Photography Masterclass Magazine & Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine.  She is a core member of Childhood Unplugged as well as CMPro. In addition to teaching other photographers about breaking into Lifestyle Family photography at The Define School, Audrey also teaches iPhoneography workshops at the Montclair Arts Museum. She currently resides in Cedar Grove, New Jersey with her husband and two beautiful daughters.

(Photo of iPhone: Flickr)

2 thoughts on “5 Tips For Taking Terrific Travel Photos with Your Smartphone”

  1. I love these tips! So glad you mentioned the forward facing camera instead of taking the usual “selfie” Very few realize that the front facing has is less quality than the forward facing one. It’s convenient for the selfie, but not so much when you really want to capture those important moments with your family (you included!). Thanks for sharing 🙂


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