If you travel often, you probably travel light — which means you’re more likely to rely on your smartphone for pics than a professional-grade camera. We get that. What’s more, we know all about it! While snapping insta-worthy pics on your smartphone seems simple (point, click, shoot), there are ways to make documenting your travels even better. Ready to up your photo game? Read on.

1. Find the right light

If you know your best angle (to the left, chin tilted slightly upwards), then you probably know how important the right light can be. After all, it’s one of — if not the most — important factors in taking an excellent picture. Insta-pros know how to find the perfect lighting for postcard-worthy pics, and so can you! For the best light, head to the landmark you want to shoot in the early morning or in the later afternoon. If you’re indoors, set up your shot so that light is falling on your subject. Even window light can do the trick. This will guarantee optimal lighting and minimal editing.

2. Don’t lose focus

Your phone can really get in there — use this to your advantage! If you want to focus on a particular element of your shot (a plated meal, for example), all it takes is a tap in the desired area. When it comes to taking pictures of people, don’t be afraid to rely on your phone’s facial-recognition feature.

3. Give the rule of thirds a try

This trick is an oldie, but a goodie. By splitting images into nine equal blocks that form a three-by-three grid, photographers can frame shots to their liking. Your goal should be to capture the most interesting parts of your image in the intersection where the imaginary lines meet. Whether you’re snapping friends and family or a mountain range, we’re sure you’ll like what you see. What’s more: your phone probably has this feature. Look for the grid option and get shooting!

4. Take photos in bursts

If you aren’t feeling particularly confident in your photo-taking skills, using the burst function might be the right way to go. Why? Because 18 pictures in a row are sure to hold something good. Once you’ve taken a bunch, scroll through to find the picture. This feature is especially handy for shots with people. After all, there’s no way your friend can blink in every single picture…right?

5. Install a third-party app

If you want to take your snaps up a notch, consider installing a third-party camera app. Non-native camera apps often have a bunch of features similar to DSLRs (professional-grade cameras) with manual settings. While your smartphone’s camera is definitely good for casual shots, an app dedicated to making your pics pop is a great alternative.

6. Avoid the dark, turn off the flash

If you’re hoping to get a semi-obscured, moody shot, think again. Smartphones don’t take the best shots in low light due to limited hardware and lack of slow shutter speed. This means that features you might be used to in digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) aren’t possible. As for the flash function, we suggest avoiding it as much as possible. Why? Because you can’t control the strength of the LED flash on your phone. As a result, pictures taken with flash often end up looking a bit harsh and have a lack of balance between ambient background exposure and flash exposure. No thanks!

7. Know your modes

Don’t be afraid to play around with your smartphone’s camera. The more you explore your camera’s capabilities, the more impressed you’ll find. There’s a world of possibility: from adding filters and tweaking colors to straightening images and blurring backgrounds.

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