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How To Use Your Phone Camera for Gorgeous Travel Shots

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There’s never been a better time to own a phone camera, especially when you’re travelling. Phone camera technology has been making huge leaps in recent years, making it sufficient to leave your digital camera at home and rely on your phone to snap happy memories for keepsakes. But how can you take your holiday snaps from “meh” to “magnificent”? Follow these tips for some ideas.

1. Be an early bird and catch the morning light

Photography enthusiasts often cite the “Golden Hour”, which refers to the period of the day right after the sun rises or just before the sun sets. Light during these precious minutes is redder and softer than the harsh midday light, giving your photos a natural appeal.

If there’s a scenic landscape or iconic landmark that you hope to visit and photograph, plan to be there in the early morning. Not only will you enjoy better light quality, but crowds may be smaller too. While the evening golden hour will also cast a gorgeous glow in your photos, places of interest are also more likely to be filled with throngs of people – and it’ll be harder to get a peaceful and unobstructed shot.

2. Play with the “rule of thirds”

A timeless tip in photography is to use the rule of thirds. This is the compositional technique of not framing your focal point right smack in the middle of your photo, but rather a third of the way up or down (or across). For example, when taking a photo of the sea, place the sea horizon at the top third or bottom third of your photo instead of filling your frame with half sea and half sky.   

On most phones, you can set up a 3×3 grid on the screen to help you visualise better. Framing your subject onto where the lines intersect is another easy and fantastic way to use the rule of thirds.

3. Add details, scale and contrast to the scene

Differentiate your travel photos from others’ by keeping a sharp eye on complementary subjects. Look out for objects that add a nice detail to your photo, such as a bicycle leaning against the wall or a cat napping in a corner. Capturing a person walking alone in the distance can also give viewers a sense of scale on how vast and wide the landscape is. Puddles also create wonderful opportunities for brilliant reflection shots. Pay close attention to your surroundings, think out of the box and have fun getting creative!

4. Use the portrait mode for people photos

Instantly make your photo more interesting by using the “portrait mode” in your phone camera. This feature typically gives your photo a blurred background, which focuses the viewer’s attention on your subject – her facial expressions, her outfits, what she’s holding or about to eat etc. 

By blurring the background, you eliminate distractions and any unglamorous details in your photo, which elevates the look and feel of your photo. Also, always make sure that the person’s eyes are in sharp focus. People are drawn to faces, and if your subject’s face looks slightly out of focus, viewers will quickly scroll away to the next photo.

5. Watch out for unfortunate photo angles

However, if your travel companion is standing in front of stunning mountain peaks, you’ll want to capture every detail of the background. The issue with having every background detail seen clearly is that you will have to check that there are no upright objects (e.g. street lamps, thin trees, traffic signs) directly behind your travel companions’ heads that will ruin the shot. Make it a habit to scan the photo background quickly. Either adjust your subject’s position or your camera angle if it looks like they’ve got something odd growing out of their heads.     

6. Gear up

For extra fun and better results with your travel photos, you can also experiment with add-on lenses and other accessories for your phone cameras. Make your trip more exciting by exploring macro lenses to help you catch better close-up shots, wide lenses for more majestic landscape photos, LED lights for more flattering lighting while on the go and tripods to stabilise your phone and take better night shots of the star-lit sky or bright city lights.

Snap up Etiqa’s travel insurance deals today!

No matter where you’re voyaging and photographing, Etiqa’s got attractive travel insurance deals for you. Travel with a peace of mind when you get comprehensive coverage from our plans.

What’s more, swing by Singapore Expo Hall 4 & 5A for the NATAS Travel 2024 from 1 to 3 March 2024 and enjoy exclusive promotions with Etiqa, the NATAS Official Travel Insurer. Enjoy up to 35% off Etiqa’s Travel Infinite travel insurance plus stand a chance to win one out of two Apple iPhones worth S$3,600! Free gifts with every sign-up, while stocks last. See you there at booth 4H35!

This policy is underwritten by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd. (Company Reg. No. 201331905K), a member of Maybank Group.

This content is for reference only and is not a contract of insurance. This policy is protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme which is administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC). Coverage for your policy is automatic and no further action is required from you. For more information on the types of benefits that are covered under the scheme as well as the limits of coverage, where applicable, please contact us or visit the General Insurance Association (GIA) or SDIC websites ( or

Information is accurate as at 28 February 2024.

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